By Intern Drew Lenihan
The Catamount, on the corner of Water and Shelby streets, has been a loyal drinking hole to Santa Fe for almost 15 years now. Sadly, after all these years it will be closing its doors later this summer, but not until the 2010 World Cup is viewed from the Catamount's bar stools one last time.
Many people have fantastic memories there watching and hooting and a hollering for their favorite teams, regardless of sport. During Brazil and North Korea's match yesterday, one bar goer exclaimed to me, "I watched Michael Phelps win all his gold medals here; I was here when Zidane headbutted Materazzi," he said referring to the infamous 2006 World Cup Final. "It's too bad it's got to close." Unfortunately I am not one of those people with good memories of Catamount sports watching.
While the Catamount has amazing potential to house and quench soccer hooligans' thirst; I wasn't able to see the appeal of the place to a soccer fan. The staff was overtly uninviting, kind of a "Oh you're here to watch soccer, not buy our crappy food" attitude and the server pretty much ignored my table once I had order my appeasement plate of 3.85 chips and salsa.
In theory, it's great the Catamount is upholding the sanctity of the World Cup and remaining open until it is over. In practice, the staff acted like they wanted out of there and didn't care what's happening in South Africa this month.
Most tables were empty, except for one group of Brazillian yellow-and-blue-clad college students who were enthusiastic until the stagnant atmosphere of the place seemed to suck the fun out of them too, even when the Samba Boys found their rhythm and practically danced up and down the field in the second half, chasing North Korea back to the DMZ with a 2-1 win.
I have always been a huge Brazil fan and I should have been a lot happier, but the Catamount was about as authentic as the North Korean fans, who because of the repressive nature of their government are not allowed to leave North Korea and go to the cup. As a result, all "North Korean" fans at the game were Chinese actors hired by Kim Jong Il's regime. The physical setup of the Catamount's downstairs was just about as homely as a North Korean holding cell.
The couple of TVs were awkwardly positioned and the main upstairs bar, complete with 10 enormous TVs, pool tables, and drink specials wasn't even open. Brazil easily beat the team of Kim Jong Il puppets—rumor has it that the North Korean dictator hand picked every player on the team—and as the teams trudged off the pitch, Brazil to party, North Korea to meditate to their dictator's photo, I too got out of the Catamount before the waitress could frown at me again. My message to the Catamount: The World Cup is a party; stop being such poopers.
The Catamount Bar and Grille: Overall Score 3/10 Golden Boots
This will be an ongoing blog series with a new entry or two every week about a different restaurant or bar to watch the action. If you have any suggestions for Santa Fe world cup venues by all means e-mail us at email@example.com and put “world cup” as the subject.