Growing up, Sergio Martinez spent much of his time in his mother’s Colombian restaurant. The Lehigh Valley eatery was a large presence in his family’s life.
The rest of the time, he could usually be found on the soccer field.
Martinez and his cousin Javier Alvarado were involved in the local soccer community and, as adults, they continue to be avid fans of the sport.
The cousins saw an opportunity to bring together those two major components of their upbringing through the Golazo House, a Colombian restaurant and pub that opened at 123 W. Fourth St. in October.
“We just thought we’d combine the two, to have a place to watch the games and have some good food,” Alvarado said.
The pub allows the cousins to work together at a place that revolves around a sport they love, and its cultural significance allows them to feel closer to their cultural roots.
“We’ve grown up eating Colombian foods our whole lives,” Alvarado said. “Coming from a big family we’re really into the culture. It’s really cool to see people of other backgrounds get in touch with the Colombian food and culture.”
The owners said they cannot decide on a favorite dish, and they have a new special every weekend that they promote on social media. Their empanadas, however, are the most popular dish among customers.
“They’re only a dollar and people seem to be addicted to them,” Alvarado said.
Since the pub’s opening, business has been successful. It attracts a variety of customers ranging from Lehigh students, families and some regulars who come to watch soccer nearly every week.
These regular customers are attracted to the athletic aspect of the pub. Alvarado said they have “soccer hooligan” customers who show up as early as 8 a.m. to watch their favorite teams.
Lehigh student and avid Colombian soccer fan Steven Badillo, ’19, goes to Golazo House every two to three weeks.
“There are TVs all over, always playing a bunch of different games,” Badillo said. “The food is really good and, overall, there’s a very sporty feel.”
Badillo decided to go for the first time to watch his favorite team and try out the food. The community feel of Golazo House has him returning regularly.
Golazo House can also serve as a place of relaxation from the day-to-day for Lehigh students. Mackenzie Anton, ’21, is a member of women’s soccer team. She said although she has not been, she is interested in giving Golazo House a visit.
“A lot of girls on the team, including myself, enjoy watching professional soccer,” Anton said. “Golazo House seems like a perfect place for our team to bond over the sport outside our own involvement and just relax and have fun together.”
Aside from hosting watch parties, Golazo House has hosted several special events since its opening.
One of the biggest events was its Colombian Nights Party, which was held last fall. The restaurant shared aspects of Colombian culture, in addition to food, with their customers through music and dance.
Golazo House also hosts event for the Bethlehem professional soccer team, Bethlehem Steel FC. The restaurant holds watch parties for all its games that include raffles and other activities to entice the community to join in.