Devils’ first playoff appearance since 2012 will bring economic boost to city of Newark

By Tom Bergeron
Newark | Apr 16, 2018 at 7:05 am
From our print edition

Amma Mensah has worked in the restaurant business long enough to know one certainty: Monday nights are slow.

But that won’t be the case tonight at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on Market Street in Newark.

The New Jersey Devils have their first home playoff game since 2012, which means the restaurant will be jumping. That’s what happens when an arena — the Prudential Center — is right next door to your business.

“It gets super-busy hours before the event starts,” she said. “We’ll have an hour wait. That never happens on a Monday night.

“It will be steady until the game or the concert starts. After that, it slows down, but the atmosphere is just better. And when it lets out, we get more people coming back in.”

Mensah, a manager at Dinosaur for six years, said she couldn’t estimate how much more business the restaurant will get tonight (and then again Wednesday), but she knows it already has plans to bring on more staff to accommodate the need.

As great as making the Stanley Cup Playoffs is for the Devils, this year’s postseason activity will be a reminder of some of the additional economic activity the city earns by having the arena, which opened in 2007.

Mensah’s just happy the Devils are back in the postseason.

The Devils made the playoffs in four of their first five seasons at the Prudential Center — including a run to the finals in 2012 — but haven’t been back since.

“We were excited when we heard,” she said.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que isn’t the only Newark business that will benefit this week.

Redd’s Biergarten, also adjacent to the arena, said it expects to sell 300 bratwurst, 400 Bavarian pretzels, over 500 pounds of wings and 40 kegs of craft beers from all over the world during each home game.

And the economic benefit reaches past local restaurants.

A sellout crowd usually brings an additional 2,500 parked cars to the area (each at least $15 a pop). There also will be increased use of New Jersey Transit.

The Prudential Center itself will add to the employment in the area.

A typical event night requires 250 people to work a five-hour shift. A playoff game, with an expected bigger crowd, may force the arena to hire even more temporary workers.

How long this extra economic boom will last depends on just how long the team survives in the postseason.

It will host Games 3 and 4 of its first-round series with the favored Tampa Bay Lightning tonight and Wednesday. And it will host Game 6 next Monday, should that be necessary. After that, it depends on whether the team wins the series.

Establishments such as Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Redd’s Biergarten can only hope the run will last longer. But after five years of no playoff crowds, they say just a sampling of the extra business is worth it.

And comes with only one downside.

“It gets crazy when it’s really busy,” Mensah said.