Businesses get boost all along rally route

By Laura J. Nelson
Globe Correspondent / June 19, 2011

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As the Stanley Cup crept from the TD Garden to Copley Square yesterday, thousands of boisterous fans strode into businesses along the two-mile parade route to eat, drink, and be in the shade.

For Back Bay restaurants that get the bulk of their traffic during the weekday lunch rush, bigger crowds meant overflowing trash cans and longer bathroom lines — but a substantial bump in profit, too. Restaurants near Copley Square saw as much as a 60 percent rise in business yesterday, some opening early to accommodate hungry paradegoers.

“When our kitchen staff showed up at 10:30 this morning, there were already people waiting outside, so we just went ahead and let them in and started serving,’’ said Joshua Smith, the executive chef at Tico on Berkeley Street, a restaurant and bar that typically opens at 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays and serves most of its clients in the evening.

By 11:15 a.m., almost 200 people crowded the bar and a swath of the restaurant that opens to the outdoors, an increase Smith said was almost 100 percent.

Managers at the nearby Panera Bread, which opened three weeks ago, knew the parade‘s peak hours would be a trial by fire for unseasoned cashiers and kitchen staff.

“We called in the power hitters from other Paneras nearby to add to our team,’’ general manager Caroline Trainor said. “We needed to move people through quickly and efficiently.’’

The nearest cash register showed more than 600 people had made purchases by 11 a.m. As Trainor spoke, the line for food stretched out the door and onto Boylston Street.

The closer a business was to the end of the route, Trainor said, the worse the rush probably was. Fans near Copley Square waited almost two hours longer than those who watched the parade’s start at the Garden.

“We’re a little worried about the alcohol situation, because people sure like to drink on days like this,’’ said Michael Hart, the manager of Fire and Ice Restaurant on Berkeley Street. A half-hour before the kitchen opened at 11:30 a.m., fans in Bruins gear nursed beers and cocktails, and Hart predicted a crowd of a few thousand by closing at 11 p.m.

Eating and drinking continued after the parade ended.

The Boloco on Boylston sees peak business during lunch and dinner hours, but manager Marie-Inez Bernam said her restaurant served breakfast to more than 100 people.

“It’s been hard to keep the place clean,’’ Bernam said as she emptied the trash. “We’re busier than on any other Saturday I can remember.’’

At almost 1 p.m., the line was out the door, where it almost converged with a crowd at Finagle-A-Bagel.

“We’ve been go-go-go for seven hours, and it hasn’t slowed down at all,’’ said Finagle-A-Bagel manager Paul Pereira, who added that more than 1,500 customers had come through since 6:30 a.m. That’s 50 to 60 percent more than a typical Saturday.

“We’ve never seen business like this, not even during the marathon.’’

Laura J. Nelson can be reached at

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