Downtown Raleigh businesses gearing up for NHL Stadium Series game: Capitals vs Hurricanes

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Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Downtown Raleigh preps for business boost from Fan Fest
Businesses and festival organizers are hoping Fan Fest reminds people that downtown is a great place to eat, drink and spend your dollars.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fan Fest is just days away.

Businesses and festival organizers are hoping it reminds people that downtown is a great place to eat, drink and spend your dollars.

"Everybody is just buckling up, caffeinating, getting ready for a big weekend," said Chris Powers, owner of Young Hearts Distillery on South Wilmington Street.

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He decided to open Tuesday night for Valentine's Day even though he's usually closed.

"It feels like people are ready to come out, go out to dinner and celebrate things again, which we're really excited about," he said.

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Powers' restaurant is just a block off Fayetteville Street where Friday's Fan Fest will take place.

Jennifer Martin is the executive director of Shop Local Raleigh, which is organizing the "local" fan fest to celebrate 25 years of Canes hockey.

Then the Carolina Hurricanes take center and national stage Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium against the Washington Capitals.

"It's just an opportunity to be part of something really big in our town without having to be part of it over at the arena," she said.

They are still looking for volunteers for Friday night, which speaks in part to the staffing shortages across the hospitality industry.

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The Marriott City Center downtown said it will be fully booked for the game but it is struggling to staff food and beverage, which means they can't keep certain places open as late as they want to.

"This market has proven itself as being fully capable of hosting major-market, marquee, premiere NHL events, and I believe we'll prove that this weekend," said Scott Dupree, chairman of the organizing committee. "This is the 37th outdoor hockey but most people in the building, it's going to be their first time, and I think that's what has made this such a fascinating event and why there's been so much buildup over the past year."