Alberta bars can open early for Olympic bronze medal hockey game — but most won't

Sports fans hoping to watch Canada's men's hockey team compete for Olympic bronze early Saturday morning will have the chance to do so with a cold beer and a crowd — that is, if they can find an open bar.

Out of 20 restaurants and bars contacted by CBC News, only 2 will be open for the 5:10 a.m. game

Alberta bars and restaurants can extend their hours to show the bronze medal game between Canada and Czech Republic Saturday morning. (Larry W. Smith/EPA-EFE)

Sports fans hoping to watch Canada's men's hockey team compete for Olympic bronze early Saturday morning will have the chance to do so with a cold beer and a crowd — that is, if they can find an open bar.

Alberta restaurants and bars can open at 4:30 a.m. Saturday and start serving liquor half an hour later, Premier Rachel Notley said in a tweet Friday.

But out of 20 central and northern Alberta bars contacted by CBC News, only two said they'll open their doors for the game at 5:10 a.m.

Jezzy Letros, the general manager of The Pint on Whyte Avenue, said he wasn't even aware bars could open early until he was contacted by CBC News. He wasn't alone in that.

Notley's tweet shortly after 3 p.m. Friday was the only public announcement of the extension of liquor licence hours, according to the province.

"My customers are either unaware or uninterested because nobody's talking about it," Letros said, adding that the absence of NHL stars on Team Canada has likely contributed to his patrons' disinterest.

He said opening at 4:30 a.m. for the bronze medal game between Canada and the Czech Republic isn't worth the hassle.

Opening early would also put additional demands on the business, as staffing the bar for the event on such late notice from the province could require up to 25 people, he said.

"And obviously minimum wage has gone up quite a bit, so if there's not demand and staff is here, it's a little different story than it was back in 2014." The Pint was open for the men's gold medal game in Sochi that year.

"When the demand is there, it definitely creates a better atmosphere, but I just don't think it's there this year."

The manager of The Pint on Whyte Avenue says the hype for the men's bronze medal game doesn't compare to when Canada's men's and women's hockey teams competed for gold at the 2014 Olympics. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

One Edmonton bar to open bright and early

Kelly's Pub on 104th Street will be open, regardless of the number of people who might want to catch the game.

Bartender Peter Mason said the downtown pub submitted a request for extended hours to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. It was accepted with Friday's province-wide approval.

Mason said bar staff want to show their support for Team Canada, even though they aren't fighting for gold.

"Because this is a niche crowd and it's a one-off, it's worth it for us to make an event out of it and have some fun with it," he said.

Two out of 20 bars contacted by CBC News say they'll open at 4:30 a.m. so patrons can watch Canada's men's hockey team compete for Olympic bronze. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Mason said he hasn't heard of any other bars or restaurants that will also show the game live.

"We decided we're not concerned about what other bars are doing," he said. "Whether they wanted to open up or not, we didn't care. It's all about us and showing support for the people who want to come down."

Out of the 20 restaurants, bars and pubs contacted by CBC, Podollan Pub in Fort McMurray was the only other establishment that will be open for the game.

The following Alberta bars confirmed they won't be open for the bronze-medal game:

  • CRAFT Beer Market, Edmonton
  • The Cavern, Edmonton
  • Hudsons Canada's Pub, all Edmonton locations
  • On the Rocks, Edmonton
  • The Canadian Brewhouse, all Edmonton locations
  • The Pint, Edmonton
  • The Underground Tap & Grill, Edmonton
  • Sherlock Holmes Pub, Edmonton
  • 1st RND, Edmonton
     
  • Browns Socialhouse Clearview, Red Deer
  • Chillabong's Bar & Grill, Red Deer
  • Fionn MacCools, Red Deer
  • Toad 'N' Turtle, Red Deer
     
  • Blackhorse Pub, Fort McMurray
  • Live Bar & Grill, Fort McMurray
  • Townhall Public House, Fort McMurray
     
  • Crown & Anchor Pub, Grande Prairie
  • The Den Pub & Carvery, Grande Prairie
  • Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery, Grande Prairie

About the Author

Anna McMillan

Journalist

Anna McMillan is a reporter, web writer and associate TV producer at CBC Edmonton. anna.mcmillan@cbc.ca

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