|Stormy and Ron the Ref referee a game of musical chairs during intermission activities at Canes Cool Bars |
You've made plans Wednesday night to meet your buddies after work at the Carolina Ale House.
You've always enjoyed the sports-themed atmosphere, but this evening, something feels different. Making your way through the crowded parking lot, you see a large, red Carolina Hurricanes truck, and the Hurricanes "Hog Hauler" van.
As you enter through the large wooden doors and the hostess stand, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. You hear the familiar voice of Ron the Ref over the Ale House's speakers. It sounds like he just gave away an autographed photo of Eric Staal! You think to yourself, "ah, so this is a Cool Bars."
The Hurricanes are holding a total of 10 Canes Cool Bars tour stops during the 2005-06 season. Canes Cool Bars - the "coolest" place to gather with fellow Caniacs to watch Hurricanes road games - is on a rotating tour schedule of the Triangle's Carolina Ale Houses.
"If there is going to be a single host of the Cool Bars tour, the Carolina Ale House restaurants are really the ideal environment," said Lili Bennett, a four-year member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Storm Squad. "The food is fantastic - you can have a sit-down meal with family and friends and have access to the TVs. Or, the bar is large enough that if you prefer to just watch the game and have a few drinks you can do that with a large group, or just one or two people."
Cool Bars offer Hurricanes fans a unique way to enjoy a Hurricanes away broadcast.
"It's great because (customers) feel like they are in the game, even though they're out at a restaurant," said Brian English, manager of the Carolina Ale House's Durham location.
|Storm Squad members will be on hand at the Carolina Ale House's Brier Creek location to meet fans and cheer the Hurricanes on to victory over Washington Wednesday at 7 p.m. |
Storm squad members agree that the atmosphere mirrors that of the RBC Center on the night of a Carolina home game.
"The Hurricanes do a lot of things that they do at a game, so it makes it like we are there," Storm Squad member Candace Perrou said. "Now, I don't just have to look forward to home games, but I can look forward to the away games as well.
"Cool Bars expands the opportunity to feel like you are a part of the Hurricanes team."
The average fan's favorite part of Canes Cool Bars is a chance to get all the cool "stuff" from the pros.
At each Cool Bars, the Hurricanes raffle off almost 30 collector items, with prizes ranging from sweatshirts and jackets, to hats and authentic autographed action photos. Proceeds from the raffles go directly to the Kids 'N' Community Foundation.
"My favorite part of the night is selling the raffle tickets and visiting with as many groups of our fans as possible," Bennett said. "Not only is it a great deal for our fans to win the cool prizes, but knowing that the proceeds are going to Kids 'n' Community Foundation makes it extra special."
Another crowd favorite is the Hurricanes mascot, Stormy, who makes a special appearance at each Cool Bars event.
"Everybody likes having Stormy come around," said Jonathan Savage, manager of Carolina Ale House's Cary location. "It's kind of like a circus, and everyone's involved.
|Canes Cool Bars offer fans the opportunity to watch hockey, play pool and eat some great food at the Carolina Ale House. |
"It's fun, it changes the atmosphere of the restaurant and it's very exciting," he said. "It's as if you're at the game."
Similar to home games at the RBC Center, the Hurricanes use intermissions to play interactive games with their Caniac supporters. Taking first place in events such as a frozen t-shirt contest, musical barstools, or a restaurant-wide game of trivia will also score you a nice prize.
"One of the funniest memories I have was of one fan who entered the frozen t-shirt contest and insisted on giving me a hug in his cold, wet t-shirt." said Bennett. "Another time, I even got an intro Tae Kwon Do lesson from a season ticket holder."
Leaving the Ale House after another thriller on the ice, you notice the large, 'Canes Cool Bars banner and take note of the next date. You definitely don't want to miss out!