Downtown Allentown bustling every night

Date: Jan 15, 2015

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A new era started in Allentown a few months ago with the opening of the PPL Center. The hockey arena brings in thousands of visitors into the downtown on event nights. But what happens when the team's away?Owners of establishments downtown say, "business as usual." On Thursday night, a steady crowd strolled along Hamilton Street, some peeking in shop windows, others heading inside a restaurant for a bite to eat.

One local resident said that's become a familiar sight since the opening of the arena. "Just walking around tonight with our dog, it's pretty clear people are still around downtown," said Geoff Brace. Brace called it a nice change, and said he hopes more visitors will frequent his neighborhood.

The Roar Social House hosted a pleasant crowd at its bar, kicking off its first night of Happy Hour. The restaurant's owner said it will continue those specials Monday through Friday. While there were still quite a few open tables around six o'clock, the owner said more were expected to show. "At the present time we have 35-40 reservations for this evening," said Don Saylor.

Most of the eateries downtown had a similar crowd--steady, not packed. They credited much of their regular night business to the local professional crowd.

But still, visitors are venturing in from outside city limits. "Even just walking down the main street now, you can tell it's totally different," said Katie Truhe who came in from Emmaus with her family for dinner.

The Hamilton Kitchen and Bar said its business is also solid throughout the week. Even when the arena is empty, the owner said it still locks in about 120 reservations a night. On weekends, that figure climes to about 400, he said. "We have a great clientele that comes all week long," said Don Petridis.