World Cup game costly at Little Italy bar
Pricing forces patrons to spend minimum amounts per hour when Italy played England
It was a frustrating game for Portuguese fans at Cafe Diplomatico when the team lost its World Cup match with Germany 4-0. But it could have been worse: Italy could've been playing.
When Italy played its World Cup against England, the Little Italy bar and restaurant instituted a minimum hourly charge for each of its patrons — a spending minimum to match the surge in customers wanting to watch the World Cup game.
On Saturday, as Italy took on England, the bar instituted a minimum charge of $15 per person per hour.
Co-owner Rocco Mastrangelo explains the bar can't have people just sitting in the seats. With the hourly pricing people won't "come here at 12 o'clock, and wait for the game to start, and sit here and warm a chair," he said.
The Cafe Diplomatico patio was full, regardless. But that doesn't mean everyone is OK with the pricing model.
"I don't think really that's fair," said Gina Pinto, in her Portugal tank top.
"I guess it encourages people to drink a little bit more, because you're not going to eat $15 per hour, every hour," said Paul Aiello, who works down the street. "I'm against it. You usually have regulars that go to some of these places, so if I go to some place every day, I don't expect to pay a cover charge all of a sudden."
The bar also erases any previous tab at the start of the game and expects patrons to start spending. So a table that eats or drinks at 3:30 p.m. is cashed out and will have to get another round of food or drinks when the ball is in play at 4:00 p.m.
With a large pizza costing $14.50, that may mean multiple rounds of food and drinks per person, per hour.
Mastrangelo said it was a one-time policy and the cafe won't be doing it again this World Cup.
- An earlier version of this article indicated the prices would be in effect every Italy game. Cafe Diplomatico said its World Cup pricing will not be continued every Italy game, and was a one-time pricing policy.Jun 20, 2014 10:58 AM ET