Arena District restaurants expecting ‘unprecedented’ crowds from NHL All-Star Weekend

By Evan Weese Courtesy of Columbus Business First
The NHL All-Star Game means many more mouths to feed for restaurants in the shadow of Nationwide Arena.
By Sunday night, after the 5 p.m. game wraps up, as many as 140,000 visitors will have traveled through the Arena District neighborhood to visit the outdoor ice rink, giant snow slide and other attractions around the city’s first showcase of the National Hockey League’s top players.
“I don’t know what to expect, but it’s going to be crazy,” said Alec Meizer, a manager at Ted’s Montana Grill across from the arena on West Nationwide Boulevard.
The upscale burger joint set up an enclosed and heated tent to satiate extra diners.
Across the alley, Jimmy John‘s sandwich shop will have additional staff on hand for those wanting a quick bite before or after any of the weekend’s events, General Manager David Conley said.
Conley told me they’re used to heavy traffic around concerts and big events at the 18,500-seat Nationwide Arena and he plans to keep the restaurant open several hours past its typical 10 p.m. closing time.
Managers at the eateries along West Nationwide Boulevard are anticipating foot traffic similar to what comes with the city’s Arnold Sports Festival & Fitness Weekend, but the NHL All-Star weekend is a new test.
“This is unprecedented,” said Boston’s Gourmet Pizza franchisee Tim Emery. “We’ll probably be 30 percent above a really good week.”
Emery said the sports bar will open an hour early Sunday, at 10 a.m., amid what he says will be its biggest week in his six years.
“Closing times vary, but I imagine it’ll be 2:30 a.m. every night,” he said.
Up the hill, Rodizio Grill Managing Partner George Chaposky said he’s already seen an uptick in business thanks to the Winter Park ice rink at McFerson Commons park.
“That’s been great all week,” he said. “It’s bringing people in from the suburbs to downtown.”
Emery acknowledges Boston’s is fortunate to be the first restaurant people see as they slip off skates and walk north toward Nationwide Arena.
“We’ve seen skaters here the last five days,” he said. “I’m thinking about investing in a rink.”
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