Empty seats and a lonely bar devoid of the usual sound of cheers, or boos, will be the atmosphere at local Scarborough bars – at least for the month of October.
The continued suspension of work in the NHL has led to the cancellation of at least the season’s first two weeks of games. Bars which generally expect a boost in business when the season begins are already feeling the losses.
Steve Reddy, manager at the Tara Inn Pub on Kingston Road, admits that although the season should have just begun, he is already feeling a decrease in business compared to previous years and feels it will only get worse.
“We are really going to have to rely on food sales this season, which is a shame and will be a challenge,” Reddy said. “We normally have a lot of guys come in to watch on game nights and for some drinks but that is obviously not the case this year. All we can do is hope the lockout doesn’t last too long.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ season usually fell apart towards the end in recent years, with the team failing to make the playoffs since the 2003-2004 season. It is now, at the beginning of the season when local fans are still optimistic about the team and excited to go out and watch the games.
Joanne, manager of the Stone Cottage Pub on Kingston Road, is disappointed that the lockout has delayed the start of the NHL season.
“With the season just beginning and the Leafs not completely blowing it yet, people really want to watch the games,” Joanne said. “The Stone Cottage is normally packed on game nights and that obviously brings in a lot of business as far as drink sales are concerned.”
With more than 20 games this season already cancelled, Scarborough bars are patiently awaiting the green light for the season to return, along with their much missed customers.
Chris Fusis, bar manager at Shoeless Joe’s on Morningside Avenue, also feels as though his business is suffering and is counting down the days until games resume.
“Without them playing, there is going to be a definite negative effect on business and I can only hope that it ends soon,” Fusis said.
The league’s entire preseason was cancelled, and the official start of the regular season, which was scheduled for October 11, has been pushed back. Bar owners and customers alike will be forced to wait until at least October 25 until they can join in their celebration of another Toronto Maple Leafs season.