Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

By the dawn's early light: The American is place to be for French World Cup fans

Vancouver's official World Cup gathering place for French fans is stocking up the croissants for Sunday morning's final match
Joe Peters The American
As café manager of The American, Joe Peters won't get off work until 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. Since he'll be opening the doors for French soccer fans three hours later, he plans to sleep at the Main Street pub. A French win will make the sacrifice worth it, he says.

Joe Peters is going to fall asleep on the job on Saturday night.

He might as well since he won’t have much time to sleep at home.

Peters is the café manager of The American, a pub/café/games room on Main Street. The irony is not lost on him that a place called The American has become the go-to place for French soccer fans living in Vancouver.

With France defending its national honour in Sunday morning’s final World Cup game against Croatia, the café is having to rejig how it usually does things.

It closes at 2 a.m. and it takes about two hours for staff to clean up and prep the place for the next day’s customers. Because the final match starts at 8 a.m. Pacific time, that means Peters would leave work at four in the morning on Sunday and have to return at six in order to have everything ready to open the doors at seven a.m. for about 250 French soccer fans who have bought tickets for the sold-out event.

“We were just joking around that we might as well just sleep at the bar,” says general manager Erin Rideout. Later, when she realized that no bar in Vancouver can serve alcohol before nine in the morning, she didn't have to ask most of her bar staff to get there before eight. Peters, however, volunteered to be one of the people who will make sure fans are properly caffeinated and if that means spending the night there, so be it. "It's so fun to be in a crowd with them so I'll be cheering, too," he says.

“It’s been cool to watch [the fans],” Rideout agrees. “The room is so peppy and loud. They bang on drums and jump up and down…. They have been guiding us through this so we have been feeling very French.”


So why have the French chosen a pub called The American as their place to hang out? Is it because their flags have the same red-white-and-blue colours, or they share a revolutionary past? Or is it because Monarch Burgers, which provides the food after 5 p.m., makes the city’s best French fries?

None of the above. Rideout says one of the owners works for the Vancouver White Caps and knows a lot of soccer fans. They'd tried some other pubs but enjoy The American's open space atmosphere. “It’s a very communal, community vibe here… [The layout] really just builds the energy and boosts the fun.”

For the semi-final match, the French fans decorated The American with French colours and paraphernalia. They had to take it all down, however, because they need the decorations for Saturday’s Bastille Day festivities. It'll all be back up for Sunday morning.

“We’re expecting a lot of very happy, passionate people,” Rideout says.

The plan is to open doors at 7 a.m.. Because The American serves a simple menu of sandwiches it has asked Crab Park Chowdery to set up its food truck in front of the pub. Peters has been stocking up on the French fans' favourite croissants and pain au chocolat from Ca Croustille BC.

Since not everyone will be able to fit in The American — tickets sold out in an hour —, the FIFA 2018 French House Facebook group has enlisted a few other businesses to open early for fans.

Win or lose, everyone is invited to Creekside Park next to Science World.

For those who want to cheer on the French team, the France House Facebook page offers these tips on how to do it en Francais. Just hope your mother can't translate..