WASHINGTON – Restaurants and bars near the Verizon Center are anxiously awaiting the return of the Capitals, now that the pieces are in place to salvage most of the NHL season.
The NHL and the Players’ Association have a tentative agreement in place that will likely preserve about 50 games this season. The two sides are still working on a memorandum of understanding that will be put to a vote.
But during the 113-day lockout, local bars and restaurants in the Chinatown and Penn Quarter neighborhoods say business has dropped 10 to 20 percent on nights when the Capitals were scheduled to play.
“It has been noticeably slower,” says Michelle Stewart, a bar manager at Fado Irish Pub. “We have felt the pinch.”
Should the adjusted schedule proceed, the Capitals would be home for about 25 regular season games. The league is telling teams that they should be ready to play by Jan. 19, which is when the shortened season is most likely to start.
“We’re very, very excited to have them back across the street,” Stewart says. “But more than the business we’re genuinely excited to have a bunch of the fans come back.”
Bartenders and servers, who rely a great deal on tips, are especially ready to see Caps fans return to the neighborhood.
“The pregame rush is something that we budget for in the schedule, it’s something that we staff extra people for,” says a bar tender at RFD, who gave his name as Taylor.
“It gets us a couple extra shifts a week, and they are shifts when you expect to come in and take home enough money to be satisfied with,” he says.