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8 Steps To Open A Sports Bar

8 Steps To Open A Sports Bar

Do you dream of spending your days catching every sports game on television and hosting your city’s biggest fans all while munching on classic bar food and washing it down with beer? If you answered yes, it’s likely that you’ve at least considered opening a sports bar at one time or another.

If you’re getting more serious about it these days (desk job got you down, perhaps?) or you’re just curious about what it might really take, look no further for your how-to guide.

Here’s what we’ll cover:  


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1. Concept first

What are you going to offer that the competition doesn’t? Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a magical place that doesn’t already have a sports bar, you’re going to have to figure out what sets you apart from the competition. 

Will you keep it classic and authentic in a way that the other bars in your area don’t? Will you feature games that are hyper-local or cast a wide net and become the go-to place for all things sports? 

The first, and perhaps the most important, step is figuring out your restaurant mission statement and value proposition. What sets you apart from everyone else?  


2. Then the menu, of course

Closely tied to your concept will be the food and drinks that you serve. Will it just be wine and beer or will you venture into liquor and maybe even craft cocktails? (No one says that craft cocktails and sports bars can’t go together.) Will itbe just straight bar food or will you offer original twists on the classics or will you go off in a completely unique direction? 

Once you know what you’ll be serving up, you can start some early stage restaurant marketing (think social media) and begin to build the hype. 


3. Location, location, location

If you’re going to have a sports bar, you’re going to need a place to put it, plain and simple. Figuring out the right location for your future sports bar means analyzing the locations of the competition, the composition of various neighborhoods and weighing what you can afford. 


4. Restaurant licenses and permits

Once you have the building, you have to get all of the necessary licenses and permits required to run a bar or restaurant. Think liquor licenses, food permits and business registrations. 


5. Find your bar POS system

While this step might seem more specific than our other tips, the choice you make about your bar POS system can actually make or break the process. It’s the heartbeat of your business, the central portal where it all happens, from payroll calculations to online food orders and everything in between. 

This is one place where you don’t want to go wrong. The main factors to consider are the cost of a POS system for a sports bar, the key functionalities you need and whether or not you can integrate your POS system with the other technology you’ll be using (like iPads for your servers and a kitchen display system for your kitchen staff). 


6. Invest in entertainment equipment

What do all sports bars have in common? Sports. That means you’ll need large, high definition televisions and an impeccable sound system that makes your patrons feel like they’re in the front row of the big game while they’re sitting at your bar stool. 


7. Hire and train your staff

Finding the right staff is no small feat. They’re the face of your sports bar, the people your customers will get to know and hopefully grow to love. From interviewing to scheduling and professional development, there’s a lot to consider. Make sure you have a plan in mind for all of it before you start putting ads in the newspaper. 


8. Make sure to market

Even after your big launch, your work isn’t over yet. You have to keep the buzz going and the key to that is a rock solid marketing strategy. From creating social media profiles to responding to dissatisfied customers on Yelp, managing the reputation of your sports bar is an essential, ongoing process.

Of course, there’s a lot more to opening and running a sports bar, but these are the big steps. If you reached this point and think you’ve got what it takes, the only thing left to do is act on it. Just don’t forget your POS system. It’s the key to any successful sports bar. Talk to our team of hospitality experts to learn how Lightspeed can help. 

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