Local Vancouver pubs feeling the hurt from the NHL lockout

Empty Bar
The bar at Vancouver’s East Side Craft House sits empty, showing how local businesses have been affected by the NHL lockout. Photo: Clayton Paterson

The current NHL lockout has devastated fans across the map, but the ones who are really suffering are the local pubs and sports bars.

Without hockey on to drive people to the bars to share a plate of food and a pitcher of beer, local establishments are feeling the squeeze.

How badly have these bars been affected by the NHL lockout?

“In the past there would be two or three games a night to drive business in the pub,” said Matt Kettlewell, manager and partner at East Side Craft House. “Now we see business down around 30 per cent.”

Kettlewell added that many pubs downtown that are closer to Rogers Arena are experiencing even more drastic losses of business, around 50 per cent in some places.

“Usually we would close around 1 a.m., now we have to close at 12,” said Ray Lawn, manager at Hudson’s Landing Pub. “There’s just no one in here after 11 anymore.”

Lost business leads some bars to create new promotions and special event nights

Some pubs are promoting special event nights in an attempt to bring in a steady flow of customers throughout the week.

Kettlewell said that his pub would be running five special event days throughout the week, including karaoke, live music, comedy nights and music bingo.

“With the Canucks it was free entertainment, free business,” said Kettlewell. “Now I have to spend more money for entertainment… it won’t make [up the difference], for sure.”

Not just the pubs that are hurting

Kettlewell added that it’s not just the pubs that are hurting, but also the suppliers and repair and maintenance staff employed by these businesses.

The servers at these pubs have had their shifts cut down as the pubs no longer need the extra staff.

Empty Table
Servers are having their shifts cut because there aren’t enough customers coming in to justify extra staff being on every night. Photo: Clayton Paterson

“We used to be a packed house for all the games,” said Kimberly Corbett, a server at Hudson’s Landing Pub. “It’s terrible.”

“I just don’t feel the need to go to a bar when there’s not a game on,” said Mike Chan, a local hockey fan. “I used to go downtown with a whole crew, now we just drink at home.”

With the hope that this NHL season is not entirely lost, there is still optimism in these local pubs. In either case, they will continue doing their best to conduct business as usual.

Reported by Clayton Paterson


In this video, we talk to local pub and sports bar employees about how their business has been affected by the current NHL lockout situation.

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