The hockey frenzy is felt in the middle of July when restaurants and hotels in downtown Montreal have been sold out for several days due to the National League draft.
"It's like a shot of adrenaline for our restaurant! Half of our customers [Wednesday] [were] in town for the draft, ”says La Cage Center Bell assistant manager Kevin Beaudry.
The sports brewery hasn't taken reservations for a week.
It is because thousands of hockey fans, but also delegations from the 32 NHL teams, 300 journalists, young players and their entourage are present in the Quebec metropolis for the draft, presented Thursday and Friday, a first since 2009.
It was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be held virtually.
This year, hopefuls and general managers have established their headquarters at the Sheraton Hotel, where 2,000 room nights have been reserved on their behalf.
"The event promises us a better future [...]. We collect half a million dollars. The city lives to the rhythm of hockey, even on July 6th! ” enthused in an interview with LCN the general manager of the Sheraton Montreal, Bertil Fabre.
$8M in benefits
While 30 downtown hotels are at capacity, Tourisme Montréal estimates that the popular NHL event alone generates approximately $8 million in spinoffs.
“You can see that the teams have really organized themselves in advance as a result of this week. We received their reservations three or four weeks ago,” said Alexandre Thifault, butler of the upscale Garde-Manger restaurant in Old Montreal.
As recently as Wednesday, the 60-seat restaurant hosted Blue Jackets players from Columbus, Ohio.
"It's sure that in the middle of the week, it helps us by increasing our number of guests," he continues.
Lack of staff
But all this influx, as welcome as it is, requires staff that restaurateurs do not always have.
"Here, we're all going to work from 11 [am] to 11 [pm] as we're short of staff," observes Massimo Di Rienzo, server at Madisons restaurant, located a few steps from the arena.
The dancers cabaret Chez Parée has provided two additional waitresses on the floor for the next few evenings.
"We're going to see new faces through [the draft]. The entourage of young recruits will surely want to come and celebrate this success, ”says manager Marco Todaro.
– With the QMI Agency
“We are full for tomorrow [Thursday], and we have 450 places. It's going to be a long day"
– Maryse Morin, waitress au Madisons Restaurant et Bar
"In theory, we will have good traffic if the teams decide to have fun"
– Marco Todaro, manager of Chez Parée
“Fortunately, we don’t have COVID to deal with this year. With the relaxation of sanitary measures, it is more and more easy to manage "
– Kevin Beaudry, Assistant Manager of La Cage Center Bell
“All day I saw children with a smile from ear to ear”
– Angelo Aviles, Hockey Trading Card Distributor