By Rebecka Calderwood
With the end of the NHL lockout, many hockey fans are excited, while others ready to boycott the 48-game season, which starts this weekend. But for many students, the return of hockey gives them a reason to head back to the Ram in the Rye.
“I know they have the pub nights and all the student union events, but that doesn’t appeal to me as much as a Saturday night – Toronto versus Montreal game – at the Ram with a bunch of my buddies does,” second-year film student Lucas Ford said.
Fellow film student Jacob Thompson said he used to go to the Ram several times a week, but without hockey, this number has been turned into five times over the entire fall semester.
“This year the lockout just made this place not as cool to come to,” Thompson said.
While general manager Eric Newstadt said he’s hopeful to see a boost in activity during game times when business is usually slow, the lack of hockey fans may have only hurt profits by two to three per cent.
“We’ve been generating a lot of business based on the fact that we’re non-profit and student-owned.”
While it’s a small percentage, the Ram has seen yearly increases in its sales, which Newstadt estimates to be a two to four per cent increase over the past three years. But he hasn’t seen this growth for the current school year.
“Our basis is pretty much where it was last year.”
Daniel Gans, who has been a server at the Ram since last February, said working during games is a huge advantage for reasons beyond boosting his tips.
“Everyone is so intense,” Gans said. “You can feel that everyone wants his or her team to win and it’s fun to be around something like that.”
Sometimes the games can be distracting for Gans because he says he “can talk about hockey all day.” But he said that it can also help better his customer interactions.
So while some customers may be bitter about the NHL lockout and ready to boycott this season, Ford and Thompson agree that their frustrations will disappear as soon as the puck drops on the Ram’s big projector screen Jan. 19.