The best place to watch the World Cup in New York

From the The World Cup started in Novemberthe most attended watch parties in New York City have taken place behind a nondescript door on Chrystie Street.

kyle martinoA soccer speakeasy created by former MLS player and broadcaster, ‘s Football Cafe has hosted more than 3,000 fans, including celebrities such as comedian Andrew Schulz, “Billions” actor Fisher Stevens, Steve Nash and his former mother-in-law Susan Sarandon, who is an investor.

“I wanted to create a UN clubhouse with the number 1 sport on the planet in the most diverse place on the planet,” Martino, 41, told The Post.

On the first floor is a DJ, a merchandise stall selling items from independent designers, and a huge screen where the games are played, while upstairs is a long bar, a handful of TVs, and a space with Persian rugs and a hodgepodge of sofas and chairs that feels like your quirky, well-to-do friend’s living room.

Investor and Martino's former mother-in-law Susan Sarandon in front of Adam Dressner's Maradona masterpiece.
Investor and Martino’s former mother-in-law Susan Sarandon in front of Adam Dressner’s Diego Maradona masterpiece as King Henry VIII.
Courtesy of Kyle Martino’s Soccer Café

Initially, the guest list was built by word of mouth. Those who stumbled upon the Football Cafe instagram page, who now has 8,200 followers, could text 917 to get past the bouncer. Then, when word got out and fans knocked on the unmarked door, things got a little easier.

“We started letting them in if we had space,” Martino said.

The businessman plans to eventually turn the place into a private club that revolves around football, art and culture.

The house was packed at Kyle Martino's Football Café on Chrystie Street.
The house was packed at Kyle Martino’s Football Cafe on Chrystie Street for a recent game.

“I always wanted a SoHo House for soccer. I hoped someone else would do it and no one did,” said Martino, a member of Soho House. “I’m an impatient person, so I did it. Football is a beautiful lubricant that I’m surprised social clubs haven’t used yet.”

In 2019, he opened a club on the lower floors of his Greenpoint townhouse, which quickly ballooned to 180 members. It was too big so she turned it off and went to find a space. Seven months ago, he put up a “For Lease” sign at 141 Chrystie St., across from Lion’s Gate Field at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, where Martino’s Street FC football league plays. It was a fortuitous place, but the landlord kept ignoring it.

A group of fans poses outside the door of Kyle Martino's Football Cafe
A group of fans poses outside the gate of Kyle Martino’s Football Café.
Gogy Esparza

Martino showed up every day for 30 days to convince him to let him into the building.

“It was an empty building. No one had been there for years and he was storing avocados there. The place was graffitied and there was a hole in the ceiling.”

Four months ago, he signed the lease and brought in Victoria’s Secret CEO Martin Waters, Sarandon and former ESPN honcho John Skipper as seed investors.

He ran to get it in shape before the World Cup, using his own furniture and memorabilia, including a New York Cosmos jersey signed by Pelé. He even brought his huge sofa from the living room to anchor the second floor.

Then he commissioned the local artist adamdressner to recreate historical paintings featuring the heads of soccer superstars, including a spectacular rendering of Diego Maradona in the body of King Henry VIII.

Kyle Martino rests on the second floor next to a painting by Adam Dressner.
Kyle Martino rests on the second floor next to a painting by Adam Dressner.
Pedro Gomoc

He has also enlisted the help of a prolific streetwear designer. diego moscosoniwho has designed kits for Venezia FC.

On Sunday, the final between France and Argentina it will be a full house including Martino; his ex-wife, actress and lifestyle blogger Eva Amurri; the three sons of him; Amurri’s new boyfriend and his mother. Space will be limited, but they are selling $45 tickets, which includes a free drink. They sell beer, wine, and snacks like breakfast burritos, burgers, and avocado toast from the team behind Jackdaw in the East Village.

On the roof wall is a mural by the famous Mexican street artist Bebo.
A mural by Mexican street artist Golgo is on the rooftop wall of Kyle Martino’s Football Café.
young john

After the final whistle, Kyle Martino’s Football Café is likely to close while they look at the more permanent iteration. And while plans are still in development, Martino said the building will have a small restaurant open to the public. It is likely that he will start the social club with 50 charter members and continue from there.

“I’m trying to fill this space with people who found out what’s going to happen next,” Martino said. He wants to keep the World Cup momentum alive and build towards 2026, when the event will take place here in North America.

The pop-up boutique has products from up-and-coming designers.
The pop-up boutique has products from up-and-coming designers.
young john

“[The United States] It’s way behind in many ways, but who cares? We have every right to love this game like anyone else,” Martino said. “The 2026 World Cup will be the biggest sporting event of our lifetimes. It will show that gaming is part of the social fabric of this nation.”

Their ultimate goal is to open locations in various US cities before the next games.

“I’m willing to put a flag in the ground.”

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