Starting Friday, the World Cup will be the sport du jour at the Checkerboard Tavern and several other East Spokane businesses.
Those businesses have identified themselves as part of the Spokane International District. With soccer’s world championships about to start and run through July 11, a number of locations in the district will offer live TV games of matches, plus food and ethnic tunes complementing the competition.
In the nearby One World Spokane café, the cuisine will be Chilean when the squad from Chile plays, for example.
One World Spokane founder Janice Raschko said the goal is to help more residents realize the variety and options inside the district.
“We are all in the international district here, so we wanted to do something to celebrate what the rest of the world is doing,” she said.
The district — from Helena to Crestline and from the interstate to the railroad tracks — has been known for years as the East Sprague Business Association. Last year, in a marketing upgrade, members opted for the “international” designation. That choice makes sense, said Holly Martin, community development coordinator with SNAP, who has worked closely on revitalizing East Sprague.
She pointed out that the district now includes Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Russian and other ethnic groceries or restaurants.
For the month, businesses will be hanging a newly designed window poster. It will indicate some or all of the games will be presented on TV screens inside that business.
A set of new banners, to be erected on 17 light poles throughout the district, are also due to be unfurled on the district’s streets in the next two weeks, said Martin.
The banners, designed by Spokane’s Klundt|Hosmer agency, are being paid for through a $3,500 donation from the Avista Foundation.
At the Checkerboard Tavern, operated by Janice’s husband, Keith Raschko, soccer mania begins at 6:30 a.m. on Friday.
“Usually it’s not open at 6:30,” Janice Raschko said. The Checkerboard, at 1716 E. Sprague, will also open on Sundays during the tournament, another break from normal hours, she added.
One World Spokane, 1804 E. Sprague, will have ethnic food specific to that day’s big game.
“When Mexico plays on Friday morning against South Africa, we will have a chef who will prepare Mexican food,” she said.