There are three clocks inside the Polish Club, keeping track of the time in San Francisco, Chicago and Warsaw.
On the walls, red banners with the Polish eagle hang alongside murals of 18th-century Polish nobility, and the air smells faintly of cabbage.
It’s probably safe to say that when most people think of the Mission District, a strong Polish presence is not what comes to mind. But mixed in with the mercados and taquerias sits this large building on 22nd and Shotwell streets. The club was a meeting place for the Bay Area’s Polish community Wednesday afternoon when Poland took on Germany in the World Cup.
“It gives us a great atmosphere to watch the game,” said Jakub Glodek, a Warsaw native who now attends USF. “It’s worse than a bar, because there is no tap with beer. But it’s nice to just sit and talk and watch with your friends.”
About 15 Polish transplants of varying ages took a long lunch to watch the Germany game, seated around three tables as the game was projected onto the wall. When a meeting of Polish World War II veterans in the adjacent dining hall adjourned at halftime, a few more fans trickled over to provide some historical context to the rivalry.
The club is typically used for casual get-togethers and monthly potlucks, and it was obvious those in attendance were comfortable with their surroundings. Several went to the large kitchen to fix sandwiches, while a few brought beer to remedy the lack of a keg. Comments about the game would begin in English (“Come on; OK”) and trail off into Polish diatribes that would draw a chuckle from the crowd.
There was a lot at stake for Poland,especially considering it had suffered a shocking 2-0 defeat to Ecuador in its first game. The team was on its heels much of the match, but drew praise for its sturdy defensive play until stopping time, when Oliver Neuville scored for the Germans to win the game 1-0.
“Oh well, we just weren’t lucky today,” Marek Wrotkowski said. “But it’s a great time to just meet up and talk.”