Some bars and restaurants are struggling to keep up with Stanley Cup Final crowds due to understaffing

DENVER — The crowded downtown streets were a welcome sight for restaurants and bars during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday.

“It’s created an incredible amount of traffic in this area,” said Brandon Hanson, catering manager at Union Station.

The Venice Ristorante and Wine Bar saw huge numbers on Wednesday, according to owner Alessandro Carollo.

“We made about $20,000. Usually we make $12,000 to $13,000, it’s almost double that,” he said.

Behind the scenes, the night came with some struggles.

“We’re scheduling everyone for six days. We’re pulling a few servers from Venice to Greenwood Village,” Carollo said.

Carollo’s three restaurants have been understaffed for some time.

“We need servers, bartenders, people from the back of the house,” he said.

Carollo says he hasn’t been able to capitalize like he’s used to at a restaurant that’s served big names over its two decades, including numerous Denver Nuggets, Avs and Broncos players.

“The challenges are like right now, especially during this Avalanche final, there are a lot of people outside that I would like to open up for lunch,” Carollo said.

Carollo is not alone. Nearby restaurants, like Jinya Ramin, had their own struggles on Wednesday.

Kitchen manager Phillip Reed said the crowd was “side by side”.

“The tables [were] full. The bar was full. We didn’t have enough service to go out,” Reed said.

In the week leading up to the first game, over 200 catering positions were advertised on Craigslist.

In a statement to Denver7, Colorado Restaurant Association spokeswoman Denise Mickelsen said in part, “Eight out of 10 operators tell us they’re understaffed, and with Avs games driving more business in restaurants and bars, the situation is aggravated.”

Over the years, Carollo’s Restaurant has become one of downtown Denver’s most well-known Italian restaurants. Despite the restaurant’s staff shortages, Carolla says he is dedicated to providing excellent service to his customers.

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement