Bathhouse doubles as sports bar

Bathhouse doubles as sports bar
Photo by Paul Martinka

It’s a soccer spa!

A Russian bathhouse in Southern Brooklyn is doubling as a sports bar this summer, showing World Cup matches in the steamy spa area. The owner of Russian Baths of Brooklyn — which also has a more traditional sports bar in another part of the building — said they show a variety of games geared towards their largely Eastern European clientele, but without taking sides.

“We don’t wear shirts for Russia, Ukraine, Georgia,” said Rustam Zaripov. “We just watch the games and are enjoying the world championship. This is our main idea.”

Located on Gravesend Neck Road, Russian Baths of Brooklyn offers saunas, steam rooms, and swimming, as well as a conventional sports bar. It shows some sporting events of interest to immigrants from the former Soviet Union, including the ongoing World Cup, and this year’s Stanley Cup, when star Russian winger Alexander Ovechkin and his Washington Capitals teammates finally hoisted the Stanley Cup trophy.

On June 14, people came to the Gravesend location to watch Russia crush Saudi Arabia in both countries’ first World Cup match. And the bar will show Russia’s June 19 game against Egypt as well. As the quadrennial soccer championship goes on, Zaripov said fans may be in for some unlikely outcomes.

“There have been lots of surprises already,” he said, pointing to Mexico’s June 17 victory over Germany.

The diversity of its customers and occasional tensions among people from the former Soviet Union are why Zaripov is careful not to let the establishment appear to favor any one country in sports, according to him. Regardless of where someone is from, the business strives to provide a unique combination of wellness services and sports-watching, he said.

“If you want to spend time in a place, drink a beer, go to the sauna,” said Zaripov. “It’s not just a sports bar. You can do everything.”

Russian Baths of Brooklyn (1200 Gravesend Neck Road, between E. 13th Street and Homecrest Avenue, (718) 332-1676, russianbathofny.com).

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.