DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche taking home the Stanley Cup could not have come at a better time for downtown Denver businesses.
The Colorado Restaurant Association reports the rising cost of food and alcohol have made it difficult to overcome pandemic-related debt. Food and labor costs have skyrocketed since March 2020, higher gas prices have hurt around 68% of small business recovery efforts, and local operators owe an average of $180,000 in pandemic-related debt. Eight out of 10 restaurants also say they are short-staffed.
With all of the challenges the service industry is facing, the additional revenue from the Avalanche games, along with the Colorado Avalanche 2022 Championship Parade and Rally on Thursday, can make a huge difference for local businesses.
“Our restaurants are packed, our streets are full. The energy is great," said Kate Barton, managing director of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “Thursday will be a starting point for that continued energy as we head into the summer.”
The Downtown Denver Partnership monitors daily pedestrian data downtown. When the pandemic hit, there was a huge decrease, but numbers have steadily increased since last year. During the Stanley Cup Final, Barton says they saw spikes in foot traffic on game days.
“The last couple of years, undoubtedly, have been hard," said Barton. “A couple of weeks ago, we had our best day in downtown since 2019.”
On Friday for Game 5, the Downtown Denver Partnership recorded almost 280,000 people downtown.
“Having people around is really the anecdote to any issues that we've seen. So, we want people to come back, know that it's safe downtown and really make sure that you're helping to support our businesses who need it more than ever," Barton said.
Right Cream is a Denver-based ice cream shop that was born out of the pandemic. David Right started making ice cream after he was fired from a real estate startup and got a new job with lots of time to spare at home.
“Would basically have people meet me in the parking lot of King Soopers or different grocery stores around town to get the ice cream out of my trunk. Getting a lot of strange looks from people in the parking lot wondering what I was selling out of my trunk, but I promise it was just ice cream," Right laughed.
Now, making ice cream is Right's full-time job. The shop recently moved to a location in The Dairy Block, sharing a space with Foraged Restaurant. He creates unique flavors, to say the least. Every week, Right has a curated menu with new pints available for purchase. They also do scoops and sundaes out of their window.
“One that was pretty recent was the Gamer Girl Bathwater, which was strawberry Nesquik ice cream, strawberry Pop-Tarts and vanilla bean marshmallow fluff," Right said while making more ingredients for his upcoming flavors. “Our most popular flavor is by far our cookies and cream. Everybody makes it, cookies and cream, but ours is a little bit different. It's Oreo ice cream, Oreo toffee and our almost too salty caramel, and we make all that stuff in house, too.”
Right says there have been more people walking around downtown during the Stanley Cup Final. He plans on creating a special sundae for Thursday.
“Absolutely. This is the best time to be downtown, for sure," said Right. “Probably some peanut butter cup action in there. Maybe a nod to Blink-182, the song somehow. Maybe a rose something in there."
The Colorado Avalanche 2022 Championship Parade and Rally is set for Thursday. The rally starts in Civic Center Park at 9 a.m., and the parade leaves from Union Station at 10 a.m.