Success of Canadians Drives Business Boom for Montreal Bars After COVID-19 Shutdown

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MONTREAL – Kevin Beaudry says there has never been a better time to operate a restaurant in Montreal.

MONTREAL – Kevin Beaudry says there has never been a better time to operate a restaurant in Montreal.

The manager of La Cage sports bar and restaurant at the Bell Center, home of the Montreal Canadiens, said he knew customers would return when the government last month allowed restaurants to reopen after COVID-19 closures.

But business at the sports bar, which became a hub for fans during the Stanley Cup playoffs, was ten times higher than expected – thanks to the success of the Canadiens, he said Wednesday.

“We were just thrilled to find our regular guests and to have people sitting down and recruiting our staff, rehiring them and now we have had to bring people out of retirement to come and help us because we are overwhelmed with business. because of the Habs, ”he said.

The hockey team is now one win away from the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993.

At La Cage, patrons are told to show up before 3 p.m. if they want a table to watch Thursday’s game – five hours before the puck drops.

“Canadians have a global history and they have a lot of supporters, not just here, across Canada and we’ve become pretty much the center of Canada here,” Beaudry said. “I think everyone wants to touch the magic of what’s going on.”

Stuart Ashton, general manager and co-owner of McLean’s Pub, located a few blocks north of the arena, said he thinks the success of the Canadiens has helped encourage people who might have been hesitant to go out.

“As a Canadiens fan, it’s exciting. It’s so exciting, I can’t even express it in words, I love it, ”he said in an interview on Wednesday.

Ashton said his business has quickly recovered from losses suffered during COVID-19 lockdowns due to the Habs.

“With the Canadiens, it went from zero to 100, it’s incredible,” he said.

The pub doesn’t take reservations because it doesn’t want to run empty tables with a line at the door, he said.

Ashton said he expected customers to start lining up at 4 p.m. Thursday, which is also Quebec’s national holiday. And while he assumes business will be strong for game day, he said he worries the celebrations will get out of hand.

Santana Enrique, manager of Sports Crescent, a sporting goods store on Ste-Catherine Street in downtown Montreal, said if the Canadiens won at National Day it would be like a “two for one” gift for Montrealers.

“With what Canadians are doing, we completely forget the pandemic, the containment, the curfew, we completely forget, we live another life,” he said, folding t-shirts with the name of the one of the most recent Canadians. stars, Nick Suzuki, on the back.

With many young players making their mark during the playoffs, Enrique said fans are buying jerseys with these new names.

Still, he said, clothes bearing the name and number of veteran goaltender Carey Price remain the bestsellers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on June 23, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press


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