Eventually employees at Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant in downtown Toronto had to start turning down reservations for this NBA All-Star weekend.
The namesake eatery of the living hockey legend is booked and bustling this weekend, as is the case for many bars, restaurants, and hotels cashing in on the city’s hosting of the biggest names in pro basketball.
“This weekend we have a lot of bookings for Saturday and Sunday ... (and) it’s all about the (NBA) All-Star game,” said manager Michiho Morrii, adding that the restaurant is “pretty much” at capacity for both days. “We’re ... busy, and the ... All-Star game has definitely impacted us in a very positive and busy way.”
According to general manager Lael Reiken, around 400 patrons will pass through the restaurant’s doors over the weekend. This All-Star weekend will mean an overall spike of at least 30% for eateries in Toronto’s downtown core, as well as a positive “ripple effect” for restaurants throughout the GTA, says James Rilett, VP of Restaurant Canada’s Ontario office.
“Even people who are coming in to go to the event are not all staying downtown, so there will be a ripple effect for (establishments) farther out from the downtown area,” he said.
Like Gretzky’s restaurant, Shoeless Joe’s sports grill on King St. W is hopping this weekend.
“Starting Saturday at 5 p.m., we’re booked,” said owner Carlos Gavilanes.
By mid-day Saturday, the lounge and bar area of Gavilanes’ eatery were already starting to fill with partrons who quickly turned their attention to All-Star coverage being shown on several large screens.
Greater Toronto Hotel Association president and CEO Terry Mundell says getting a downtown hotel room this weekend would be tough.
“It’s a huge, positive impact for us,” said Mundell. “We know there are some rooms still available, (but) it is limited availability.”
Mundell said that in February 2015, downtown hotels saw an occupancy rate of around 63% — a normal number for that time of year. He expects that number will be significantly higher this time around.
“It’ll be interesting to see what it is in February this year. The All-Star game will clearly move that needle,” he said.
Earlier this month, Mayor John Tory talked of the NBA All-Star weekend being worth $100 million in spin-off benefits for Toronto.
Source Terry Davidson, Toronto Sun
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