Considered Southern California’s home of hockey by many, the Redondo Beach Cafe got its chance Wednesday morning to host Lord Stanley’s Cup, what many consider the most coveted prize in sports.
“It has become fairly mainstream for us to be considered the hockey spot in Southern California,” said Chris Tsangaris, who owns the RB Cafe with his brother Kosta. “Hockey for us is a passion. We love our Dodgers, Angels, Lakers and Clippers, but if there’s hockey, it’s going to go on the TV.”
When the Tsangaris brothers were approached about possibly hosting the Stanley Cup by the city of Redondo Beach and former Kings Jim Fox and Daryl Evans, they admitted they were humbled to even be thought of as a place to host such an event, one that was seven years in the making.
“We had been hosting hockey parties since we opened, and we had a gradual progression with the Kings, watching the team grow and come of age,” Chris, who lives in Miraleste, said. “It was surreal to watch things come together like they did. It was incredible watching the games and seeing the Kings pound the opposition into submission. I’ve never seen a complete playoff performance like this.”
A native of Montreal, Chris came to Southern California on a football scholarship to Cal State Long Beach to play under legendary coach George Allen. After finishing his time there, he went on to play football in the Canadian Football League for six seasons, even getting a chance to play in the Grey Cup, the CFL’s Championship game, his first two seasons.
Chris is aware of the dedication, and luck, that comes with winning a professional championship.
“It has to be the perfect storm to win the Stanley Cup,” he said. “It’s so tough these days to repeat as champions, because hockey is such a violent sport, and there are a lot of different factors that come into play.”
Nearly two months removed from the franchise’s first Stanley Cup victory, Chris admitted he didn’t know what to expect when Wednesday morning rolled around, but knew Kings fans would flock for their chance to get to see the Stanley Cup.
“We know the die-hards are making the time to come out here,” he said. “Parking will be a challenge, but we are prepared for a large crowd.”
And when Wednesday morning rolled around, Kings fans didn’t miss their opportunity to see the Cup, as some arrived as early as 5:30 in the morning for the 9 a.m. event.
One loyal fan, who goes by Andros, made the drive out from Pomona for the opportunity to get his picture with the Cup.
“You have to see it as many times as you can,” the 36-year-old fan said. “It’s so tough to acquire.”
Once the event began, fans were allowed to take pictures with the Stanley Cup for a $10 donation to the Kings Care Foundation. Fans were also given the opportunity to take pictures with Kings alumni including Fox and Evans, who are analysts for the Kings radio and TV broadcasts.
But the day will be one etched into the memory of the loyal Kings fans, as well as the Redondo Beach Cafe.
“We are Canadian-Greeks. We love our food and we love hockey,” Chris said. “For us, being able to combine our passions together with our business has been an enjoyable success.”
The cafe’s menu includes many traditional Greek and Canadian dishes, but also pays homage to Kings of yesterday, including Lucky Luc’s (Robitaille) Original Hot Dog, Penne Lombardi (a pasta dish named after Kings general manager Dean Lombardi) and Daryl’s (Evans) Miracle Smoothies.
And Wednesday was the icing on the cake the Tsangaris family had been baking since it became a hockey hotspot in Southern California.
“Every year, we’ve been frustrated with the playoff results of our Kings. We always had a Kings following and the Kings knew this place was dedicated to Kings hockey,” Chris said. “At the end of the day, we love hockey.”
Nick Ingram is the News’ freelance sports editor. To contact Ingram, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.