Only the jerseys have changedHey, are you one of those people who went to the Rocky Mountain Tavern last weekend only to turn around and leave after realizing that your friends who’d been running the place had disappeared? Were you shocked and dismayed that the walls of the Canadian-themed bar had been divested of hockey jerseys in favor of soccer jerseys?
If so, the bar’s new owner, Wayne Gold, would like to welcome you back and reassure you that the convivial atmosphere, cheap beer and free peanuts will remain. And he’d like to point out that, though he will be renaming the bar, it will retain its Canadian bona fides, as he himself hails from the Ontario city of St. Catherines.
How Mr. Gold ended up in charge of one of Itaewon’s newest and most popular bars is an interesting yet obscure story. Hitherto an English teacher and founder of the job site englishspectrum.com, Mr. Gold got word a few weeks ago that the tavern needed a new owner-manager; its founder, Corry Day, had quit in a dispute with the major investor. Before long, Mr. Gold’s friend, Max Kim, had persuaded him that they should take over.
Mr. Gold then found himself, with Mr. Kim as a partner, about to reopen a bar whose walls had been stripped bare. So he e-mailed a bunch of his friends from the soccer league he plays in and asked them to donate jerseys. Hence the soccer coup.
In the week since the change, the bar’s main clientele has been Mr. Gold’s soccer team, the Seoul British Football Club, which competes in a local amateur league and has players from Romania, Morocco, Congo, Cameroon and the United States, as well as Canada, England, Scotland and Ireland.
If you’re female, beware of the Moroccan player, Robbie, who sometimes helps Mr. Gold behind the bar. Dangerously handsome, Robbie used to play pro soccer, as a goalkeeper, in his home country before a knee injury ended his career. Now he uses his big brown eyes to break hearts like he used to use his quick reflexes to thwart shots.
Besides Adonis-like Africans and wall-hung jerseys, the bar will likely take a few more soccerish turns. In contrast to Mr. Day’s plan to show hockey games on the big projection TV, Mr. Gold plans to show English Premiere League matches. (A sense of fatalistic justice may be at work here, since the National Hockey League season is melting away due to a players’ strike.)
As for Mr. Day, he plans to take his hockey jerseys to a new, as-yet-undetermined location for the second incarnation of the Rocky Mountain Tavern. He deserves credit for making the first version so popular so quick. Time will tell if he can work his magic elsewhere.
Mr. Gold, meanwhile, needs a new name for his bar. He’s thinking of calling it the Hat Trick, but a more soccer-specific name seems more apt. He’s open to suggestions; if you’ve got one, drop by ― it’s in the alley behind the Hamilton Hotel ― and provide the assist.
by Mike Ferrin