DENVER — Denver is expecting local businesses to bring in up to $60 million during the NBA Finals as the Denver Nuggets attempt to win their first ever championship.
The restaurant industry accounts for a big chunk of where that money is spent, so it's no surprise that establishments like the Celtic on Market, a sports pub less than a mile away from Ball Arena, is preparing early for the crowds.
"Obviously, we have to order in more beer, more liquor and kitchen staff. We need to up the amount of food that we have. So there is a lot of preparation for it," said Noel Hickey, the pub's owner.
Like other establishments, the Celtic on Market is hoping for the same economic boost they saw last year during the Colorado Avalanche's Stanley Cup run.
"That was huge because in June and July are two slower months in downtown. That extra boost in business is amazing," Hickey said. "The Avs really kept our year alive."
However, according to the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA), not every establishment may be able to accommodate Finals crowds like they were last year.
"Labor shortage and inflation have continued to get worse since 2022," said Colin Larson, CRA's government affairs director. "That's why, frankly, you're seeing a lot of these restaurants cutting hours, cutting times of service. You've maybe noticed that some of the service has been a little bit slower."
According to the association's latest survey in December 2022:
- 50% of owners reduced their hours of operation on days the restaurant is open
- 43% said they closed on days that they would normally be open
- 50% said they stopped operating at full capacity
- 76% said they have positions open that are difficult to fill
In the meantime, the City of Denver is once again taking note of the economic opportunity for restaurants and bars.
The city is waiving it's 30-day permit process for bars and restaurants who want to expand the area where they're allowed to serve alcohol.
"Now if those bars and restaurants want to temporarily expand the areas on their property where they can serve alcohol and host these watch parties, they can do it without having to do it 30 days in advance, so we can help Denver celebrate," said Eric Escudero, the city's licensing department spokesperson,
The city is encouraging bars and restaurants to apply for an expansion permit as soon as possible.