Phillip Gonzalez didn't think he was going to make it in.
He arrived at Manolo's at around 8 a.m. on Saturday—an hour after many others—to watch Argentina's first World Cup match. At first, the Argentinian restaurant on Miami Beach told him it reached capacity and locked him and several others out as the game began.
But then Manolo's made an exception and let them in. Others weren't so lucky.
Restaurants and bars across South Florida are holding happy hours and watch parties for the World Cup in Russia. Manolo's is doing the same, but it has a new policy that caps its attendance to around 150 people and urges everyone to buy at least $20 worth of food when Argentina plays.
The restaurant has long been a staple for Argentina soccer fans, packing hundreds of them in during each of the national team's World Cup games in 2014. Fans often poured onto nearby Collins Avenue after games, blocking traffic.
But Manolo's manager Gustavo Darosa said the restaurant is turning fans away this year in order to prevent fire hazards and more traffic blockages.
"Fire rescue came in once and told me, 'You cannot have all these people standing here,'" Darosa said. "So we can only let the people in" who can find a chair to sit on.
Fans donning sky blue and white Argentina jerseys on Saturday banged drums and chanted classic Argentina songs like "Vamos, Vamos Argentina" throughout the match. But several said Manolo's atmosphere was more lively when it let more fans in.
"I like the chaos, the raucaous, the sound," said Ernesto Cuavas, who lives around Dadeland. "That's the Argentina spirit."
Gonzalez agreed. But he was just happy to make it inside.