Hoping to watch Sunday’s Euro 2020 final from the patio of a Toronto bar or cafe?
Get ready to wait in line. And in some cases your chances may still be slim.
Starting 3 p.m. this Sunday, Café Diplomatico is fully booked. Hungry soccer fans can still try their luck by walking in, but unless you reserved a spot ahead of time and agreed to a minimum spend — about $250 for a table of four and $350 for six — you won’t be guaranteed a seat to watch the Euro 2020 final between Italy and England.
Rocco Mastrangelo, Café Diplomatico’s owner, said that normally the Little Italy cafe would see 600 people on the final match of the Euro regardless of which team made it, topped off with a street party at the end. This year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, Café Diplomatico runs on 40 per cent capacity.
Though he will be serving less people than usual for Sunday’s match, Mastrangelo is happy to serve people beer and sandwiches while watching the game, just like the old times.
“It was horrible being locked down and having an empty restaurant — there was no energy in the air, so I think (the game) is the right medicine,” Mastrangelo said. “We’ve been working hard, but it’s great to see a lot of my regulars, great to see people enjoying themselves, having fun.”
Like Café Diplomatico, AC Ranch Sports Bar expects to see mostly Italy fans stopping by to watch the final. The restaurant, located on St. Clair West, only has seven tables and will seat customers on Sunday on a first come, first served basis, which was the case for earlier Euro 2020 matches.
“A lot of people have been getting here hours before game time (to) try to get a spot,” AC Ranch manager Claudio Alaimo said. “Outdoor dining is like gold, they’re very hard to find, especially during these big events.”
Alaimo still frequently gets calls from people who want to make reservations and he tells them that they’ll have to start lining up by 11 a.m. if they want to secure a seat — four hours before the game begins.
Colin Buerger, manager at Hemingway’s, also advises people to line up before 11 a.m. to better their chances of snagging a seat at the restaurant’s rooftop patio near Queen’s Park. It’s been so hectic that Hemingway’s stopped offering reservations for the finals: Tables are now first come, first served. The odds are slightly higher since it can seat up to 300 people.
Buerger expects a long line nonetheless — he noticed that the patio’s been almost twice as busy this year compared to previous Euros and mostly attended by England fans, partly because Hemingway’s has recently put more focus on showing soccer games and partly because people just want to go out now that COVID-19 restrictions are looser.
“I’ve told so many people to just be here early — that ‘earlier’ is getting earlier and earlier,” Buerger said.