RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the Carolina Hurricanes begin their quest for a Stanley Cup on Monday night, businesses across the Triangle are gearing up for watch parties in hopes of a long playoff run.
"Monday is usually pretty slow in the restaurant industry. Tonight, we've doubled everything, doubled the chicken wings, doubled the brisket, doubled our staff. So, like I said, we've been here 14 years. Fifth year in a row with the Canes going to the playoffs. So we're pretty good at this," said Joe Lumbrazo, co-owner of Backyard Bistro, across from PNC Arena.
At Carolina Ale House in Glenwood South, the restaurant hosts official watch parties for road games but is expecting a strong crowd Monday night.
"It's really fun seeing these first-time guests that will come out at times and then create these raving fans. So it's really important that we create a great atmosphere and a great experience for them," said Carolina Ale House District Manager Ryan Coyle. If the series extends to a Game 6, they plan to host an outdoor watch party.
In 2019, the first year of the Canes' current postseason streak, Visit Raleigh reported that the playoffs had a $7.9 million direct economic impact on the area, a figure which could be topped this year.
"It's hotel stays. It's spending in restaurants and bars. It's retail, not only what happens in the arena and retail, but what happens in the rest of the city. I think a lot of times the fans that are coming in from other markets whether it be a Canadian market or a Northeast market, may have some notoriety with the city at this point. But if they don't, they're out exploring. They're out kind of taking in the true Raleigh experience. That could be through food, that could be through other attractions," said Loren Gold, Executive Vice President of Visit Raleigh.
Tourism officials are hoping the playoffs could help the area continue to build off the success of this year's Winter Classic, which set a merchandise record for the event.
"These global events, if you will, or at least national and semi-global events do bring a lot of recognition to the city and in turn bring a lot of money to small businesses (and) entrepreneurs," said Gold.
It's also an opportunity for fans, friends, and families to connect.
"I got up at three in the morning -- a horrible, horrible time of the morning -- and jumped on a plane from Syracuse through JFK and got down here by about 10:30," said Chris Gruttemeyer.
"And I woke up at six and drove up here (from Charlotte) to the airport to pick him up," said Chris' dad, Keith.
Hockey has long bonded the father-and-son, who have been Canes fans since they relocated to North Carolina.
"(Chris) grew up in Greensboro. And we were big hockey fans. We played hockey together all the time and always went to the Monarchs games in Greensboro. And then when the Hurricanes came around, we converted over to Hurricanes fans," said Keith.
Chris booked several flights near the end of the regular season for the playoffs, as the Canes didn't clinch the division until the final game against Florida.
"It's literally just this constant text conversation about "Oh, you see that" or what about this and that. Our relationship grows with that," Chris explained about following games together.
"(Chris) started playing roller hockey when he was like 6. And I never played hockey. (When) I grew up, I spent some time on Long Island, so I was a big Islanders fan during their dynasty years. I just loved hockey. And we'd played street hockey, but I never actually had wheels or blades," Keith recalled. "And so, when he started getting into hockey and getting into roller hockey, at 40 years old, I decided, 'OK, I'm going to learn how to ice skate and I'm going to learn how to get roller blades.' And he and I played on teams together in roller hockey, and he was in the ice hockey league, on the travel team, and all that sort of stuff. So it's always been that connection point for us."
As the pair enjoyed lunch inside Backyard Bistro ahead of Game 1, the excitement of experiencing the start of the playoffs together was palpable.
"It's been awesome," Keith said.