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Buffalo soccer bar Mes Que featured on Travel Channel, unveils World Cup plans

Dedicated soccer supporters don't have many demands when it comes to watching a match at a pub, but there are a few considered non-negotiable.

The bar must sell beer, the sound must be amplified for big games and it must be accepted that supporters will sing, shout and probably curse louder than most patrons. For some bars, that's actually a lot to ask.

With the World Cup kicking off June 14 with hosts Russia taking on Saudi Arabia, the Travel Channel spotlighted 10 great American soccer bars.

Gracing the list is North Buffalo bar Mes Que, located at 1420 Hertel Ave., which serves as the home bar for FC Buffalo fans, regularly televises English Premier League and international matches, and has even hosted popular podcasters-turned-TV stars "Men in Blazers."

"From the Buffalo chapter of the American Outlaws (supporters of the U.S. men's national team) to the many English Premier League supporters groups, they have all become our 'adopted family,'" said Mes Que co-owner Howard Gartenberg. "This article is really a tribute to them, to Buffalo, and to all who enjoy 'The Beautiful Game.'"

As the Travel Channel notes, Mes Que - pronounced "MESS-kay," means "more than" in Catalan and begins the slogan of La Liga powerhouse FC Barcelona - "Mes Que un Club."

While Canalside joined the fray in airing games during World Cup 2014, Mes Que presented outdoor viewing - shutting down Hertel Avenue for one U.S. match - and reaching capacity quickly for most other matches, even non-U.S. games.

The News' Aaron Mansfield described the scene, below.

Local venues brace for more World Cup fever on Thursday

Although the United States did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Mes Que attracts a diverse clientele - Buffalo is a bastion of immigrants and refugees, after all - as well as mainstream soccer fans merely intrigued by a world tournament that takes place once every four years. As in 2014, Mes Que will televise every minute of every match for 2018.

Gartenberg unveiled three of the bar-restaurant's plans for World Cup 2018 viewing:

Weekday World Cup Happy Hour: From 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays during the tournament, the happy hour will offer a chance to catch-up on the day's action. It’s intended for those who might have been working, were unable watch live, or anyone who just wants to trade conversation and opinions with like-minded passionate fans, Gartenberg explained.

• Carlsberg Passport Program: For every time a Mes Que patron watches a match at the bar, they'll receive a stamp on a distributed "World Cup Passport. Prizes will be awarded to the patron with the most stamps after the final.

• Journey's End donation: For every goal scored during the World Cup, Mes Que plans to donate to Journey's End, a West Side charity organization that serves refugees. According to Gartenberg, Mes Que's donation will help fund Journey's End's soccer program, which establishes and sponsors refugee teams in the area.

Outside of World Cup time, the bar-restaurant opens early on Saturday and Sunday mornings - serving alcohol, too - to attract English Premier League fans from late August through mid-May.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United matches typically draw the biggest crowds, although Buffalo supporters groups exist for many of the other top-flight clubs. Given the TV ratings for Buffalo in the past, the interest is legitimate.

Proving they did a little research, the Travel Channel also highlighted Mes Que's cocktails, which rotate seasonally and occasionally have soccer inspiration - like the spicy Luis Suarez. (You can make the bite joke). For this World Cup, the bar plans to debut a few Russian-inspired cocktails.

Cultivated by former bar manager Rachel Wright, the beverage program was detailed in The News' feature story here, while News contributor Michael Farrell elaborated on the bar's atmosphere here.

U.S. Soccer fans cheered on the national team in the World Cup against Belgium at Mes Que in 2014. Now, the Hertel bar receives some recognition. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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