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17th Avenue businesses embracing return of playoff hockey, influx of fans
A banner supporting the Flames outside Trolley 5 in the 700 block of 17 Ave SW on April 15, 2019
Published Monday, April 15, 2019 4:18PM MDT
As the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche continue to battle in their first round Stanley Cup playoff series, bars and restaurants are declaring the return of playoff hockey to Calgary a victory for their bottom line.
“It’s been awesome,” said Ernie Tse, owner of Trolley 5. “The whole street’s been crazy busy.”
Tse says the brewpub has been jam packed on game nights, with lineups until 2:00 a.m., and customers have been attempting to book tables days or weeks in advance.
The growing excitement surrounding the Flames playoff run has been a boon for businesses along the Red Mile following several challenging years. “It means a lot, not just to us here at Trolley 5 but, to all the businesses here on 17 Avenue especially after the construction, the raise of property taxes, it’s been tough for everybody,” said Tse. “Since patio season’s hit we’re right back into full rhythm swing in this building but it’s great to see our neighbours doing so well during this run.”
Tse says lengthy playoff series are great for business but, as a Flames fan, he’d prefer the team made quick work of the Avalanche and any future opponents. “I’d rather them sweep every series and just get to the cup,” said Tse. “If they can get out of (the first round), they’ll go pretty deep.”
Erin Mueller, owner and manager of Naina’s Kitchen, considers the playoff run to be a much-needed positive for the restaurant where ‘absolutely everything has worked against us’ since it relocated to 17 Avenue roughly three years ago.
“Having increased interest in the Flames because of the playoffs and everybody in a great mood and happy and wanting to party and spend money, it’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Mueller. “We’ve always done well before the Flames games but we’re in the middle of rebranding and trying to capitalize on the Red Mile and get (fans) back after the game as well.”
The closures along 17 Avenue for a massive infrastructure project, the increase in property taxes and minimum wage, and the struggling economy contributed to the demise of several businesses in the area and Mueller says Naina’s would have found the same fate if it wasn’t for the restaurant’s landlords. “It definitely brought us to our knees. It has depleted everything.”
According to Mueller, her sales drop approximately 40 per cent on weeks where the Flames don’t play at the Saddledome and it was bittersweet to learn that the series will return to the Scotiabank Saddledome Friday night.
“As sad as I was about the (Game 2) loss it does mean we at least still get Game 5 here in the city so that’s the only upside to the loss,” said Mueller. “Hopefully it just continues right through until June.”
The City of Calgary has announced it will postpone the construction projects along 17 Avenue until after the Flames playoff run concludes, a move Mueller fully supports. “We need all the help that we can get so with the playoffs, let the Red Mile do its thing.”
With files from CTV’s Jordan Kanygin