Soccer fans find respite from Arthur in Wolfville restaurant

Jennifer Hoegg
Published on July 5, 2014

Soccer fans without electricity and Internet connections in Wolfville had a place to go Saturday afternoon.

Despite the high winds brought to town by post tropical storm Arthur July 5, Joe’s Food Emporium managed to provide supper for a few dozen patrons.

 “We put a generator in and got a few lights,” owner Joe Rafih explained. “My equipment is propane, so we have a fan to get the exhaust away from the pizza oven, shut the fryers down because the main exhaust does not work and just put the essentials on.”

No one seemed to care about the limited menu or lack of hot coffee. While Costa Rica and the Netherlands faced off in a quarterfinal match, candles, utility lights and smartphone screens lit up the restaurant – along with a few big screens connected to the Internet.

Staying open when there is no electricity is not an easy task the longtime Wolfville businessman said.

“Today was a special day,” Rafih said. “I knew a lot of people wanted to watch the game. We had power most of the day… after the first game the power went out.

He gave full credit to his kitchen and wait staff for keeping the restaurant going while managing with limited equipment and manual sales.

“They’re very smart, very hardworking kids.”

The power came back briefly after the game went into extra time – to a loud cheer from the crowd – but the shootout goals and saves brought bigger applause.

Rafih wasn’t as worked up about the soccer game as his customers.

“This is not quite the World Cup,” he said, “Next game’s the World Cup. Brazil and Holland will be the World Cup.” 

Joe’s was the talk of the town through the winter when it managed to remain open during blizzards and snow storms.

“It’s challenging,” Rafih said of the task of operating without power.

“I wish Nova Scotia Power would trim the trees. Since they went to a private company they are more focused on shareholder profit than service,” he said.

“When they were a crown corporation, we never had this problem. Thirty years ago the power never went out. Very seldom. Now it’s almost every storm – leaves, breaking branches, taking power lines out.

“I think Mozambique has a better power grid than Nova Scotia,” he added. 

“They don’t want to trim trees, that’s the feeling I have.”