Bars all over Calgary were closed at 2 a.m. on Sunday only to open again for the 5 a.m. puck drop at the men’s Olympic gold medal game in Sochi.
Saturday night, tables were already full for pre-game festivities at the Bull and Finch in the S.E. community of Douglas Glen. Servers and bartenders worked long after last call to get ready for 250 hockey fans who would arrive Sunday morning to the smell of scrambled eggs and Canadian bacon combined with the sound of a freshly cracked beer.
At the opposite side of the city, patrons packed Jamesons in N.W. Brentwood. Servers said reservations came pouring in there as well as soon as the bar announced its decision to open early. Lindsay Reynolds, a long-time employee at the pub, said with the intense demand it was difficult even for her to secure a table for the early morning game.
Reynolds was among thousands of Albertans who enjoyed the early morning game from their bar stools thanks to Premier Alison Redford who announced on Twitter Friday afternoon that all bars across Alberta would be allowed to open and serve alcohol at 5 a.m. without having to apply for a special liquor license. She urged Albertans to drink responsibly.
Some staff at the Bull and Finch said they didn’t sleep between the bar closing and re-opening, but instead pushed through until the end of the game when Canada won gold against Sweden in a 3-0 shutout.
Tony Balakas, manager at the Bull and Finch, said he was initially concerned that customers would come to the bar in the morning after staying up all night and would still be “in party mode.”
Photo by Alyssa Quirico“There were a couple rowdy tables but they were more just excited about the game,” he said. “No one was intoxicated. It was more about having a couple beers and some breakfast and watching some hockey.”
According to a recent Calgary Sun article, Finance Minister Doug Horner said the Alberta government plans to work with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission on possibly relaxing liquor laws in the future, after reports from police that Albertans drank responsibly Sunday morning. No major incidents were reported as a result of bars serving earlier than usual.
“It was definitely worth it. We weren’t making piles of money but people in the community were coming up and saying ‘thank you so much for being open,’” Balakas said.
For a recap of some of the best moments from the Sochi Winter Games visit the Calgary Journal’s Storify page.