The flat-screen televisions hanging around this family diner are all tuned to CTV. The speakers are booming the docile tones of Brian Williams, who has been the voice of the Olympics in Canada for three decades. The waitresses are delivering warm plates of poutine (a Canadian concoction of French fries, cheese curds and gravy), Montreal smoked meat sandwiches and cold bottles of Molson Canadian and Labatt Blue.
If it weren't 65 degrees and sunny outside this café nestled on Pacific Coast Highway, you would think you were on St. Catherine Street in Montreal.
That's just what Chris Tsangaris, 41, and his brother, Kosta, 44, had in mind when they opened up the Redondo Beach Café nearly five years ago.
Well, not exactly.
"When we first opened this place up, we did not have TVs up, we did not have poutine, we did not have Montreal smoked meat," said Chris as he overlooked his packed restaurant during Team USA's 5-3 upset win over Canada on Sunday. "We got a little bored with the menu and started making our own stuff and what we knew for fun, and people loved it."
Being from Montreal, the Tsangaris brothers knew about hockey and food, and once they decided to feature the food they loved growing up and show the games of the team they loved growing up (the Montreal Canadiens), they discovered they weren't alone.
"We didn't know -- we thought we were the only hockey fans in L.A.," said Chris. "The first day we opened up, my brother put up a picture of Rocket Richard on the front counter, and I said, 'What are you doing? We can do the hockey thing, but Rocket Richard?' He said, 'Just leave it up.' So lo and behold, one day Andre Martin, one of the pioneer hockey coaches in the area, came in and wanted to know who put that picture up. That's when we decided to go full bore with hockey."
There isn't a game the Tsangaris brothers don't show or have access to, and much like the jukebox resting below the Canadian flag, they're open to requests. "If a St. Louis Blues fan comes in and wants to watch their team, we'll put it on," said Chris, who played football for George Allen at Long Beach State and went on to play six seasons in the CFL as a middle linebacker. "If you like the Chicago Blackhawks, we're here for you, too."
They'll even begrudgingly show the hated Toronto Maple Leafs. In fact, they have a framed Maple Leafs jersey signed by Ian Turnbull, who is from Montreal but now lives in Torrance, Calif., and has become a regular at the café.
Complaints about NBC's coverage of the Olympics, specifically NBC's decision to put one of the biggest hockey games in North American history on MSNBC, are a nonissue at the café, where they show the Canadian Olympic feed from CTV in high definition, and all the analysis after the game from CBC, TSN and The Score. The only thing missing is a copy of The Globe and Mail in the morning, although that's easily accessible with the free Wi-Fi they offer for those Canadians brave enough to rehash the heartbreaking loss over breakfast.
"When we come here, we feel like we're back in Canada," said Leanne Raad, a 39-year-old native of Vancouver who watched the game at the café with her husband, Samer, 40, and their three children. "This is the place we want to go for moments like this. Part of me wishes I were there, and I wish my kids could experience the spirit of the games since I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Vancouver. Not to be a part of it makes me sad, but to be here is very cool."
The Raads moved to Torrance from Vancouver four years ago. Watching the U.S.-Canada game at the Redondo Beach Café with their Canadian gear and clutching their Canadian flags served as the first Olympic experience for their kids Markus, 9, Joey, 8, and Leilah, 4.
"We said to the kids today, 'This is our Olympic experience,'" said Leanne. "We're going to get our colors on and we're going. This is our Olympics."
While the game didn't pan out as the Canadians who packed the café would have liked, they were at least comforted by the same food and drinks they would have had if they were back home. The Tsangaris brothers have the briskets and spices for their famous smoked meat shipped in from Montreal and always have an ample supply of Canadian beers. They also treat customers with the same trust they would if they were back home. At one point during the game, Kosta took a credit card from a complete stranger at the bar and kindly asked him to remember how many beers he had as he put his card in his back pocket.
"We're Canadians, we're nice and we're good at hockey," said Steven Spitzer, a 54-year-old lawyer from Montreal, who has lived in Los Angeles for 25 years. "This is the only place in Southern California that has authentic Canadian food and hockey. It's exactly the way it is in Montreal. It's like being in Canada, but as soon as you leave the doors you're back in California. It's a perfect combination."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.