How To Open a Sports Bar Business?

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how to open a sports bar

At some point in your life, the thought must have run through your mind – ‘let’s open a cafe or a sports bar.’ What’s better than having a business and being able to enjoy all sports at the same time, with other likeminded sports fans – while making money at your job!

If you are still on the fence and need more information to make a concrete decision, let’s help you out with some pointers.


Here are The 11 Key Things to Consider Before Opening a Sports Bar.

1. Differentiation

With every business, there is a threat of competition – some more than others. If you have a brilliant idea, maybe someone else had a similar idea before you and there’s already an establishment providing similar services. Before opening a sports bar, you have to answer this pressing question – ‘Why should a paying customer choose you over other sports bars?’

You can differentiate on your products i.e. great quality food, great selection on the menu or services – amazing bartenders, less wait time, great ambiance etc.

Competing on price and trying to undercut a competition can get out of control quickly if the competition engages in a price war. Both the businesses will run into ground by trying to undercut each other. Let’s avoid getting into the death spiral of price wars, and focus on product and services differentiation for a sustainable advantage.

2. Location

Where would your bar be located? Is it in an attractive place where sports fan would gather to watch a game? Is there a natural advantage that the location has in terms of how many people pass by? What is the average age of the people living nearby in a 1 mile radius? What is the average income of the neighborhood?


All of these data points can help you gauge how successful your bar business might be.

Also, how far is your nearest competitor? It will determine whether your bar will get all the attention or you will have to split it two ways (or three, or four ways..).


how to open a sports bar

3. Rent or Buy

So you picked a location, now are you going to rent the place or buy it outright? A lot depends on your budget and your conviction in the success of your bar business. If you buy it, you will save yourself some money that would otherwise go out to someone else, however buying a commercial space might not be suitable for everyone.

4. Paperwork: Permits and Licenses

For any business, you will need to make sure you have the right paperwork. You will need all necessary federal, state, city permits and licenses before you start your operations. Since you’d be serving food and drinks, you will need to ensure you have appropriate permits for them too, for example you might have to apply for a separate liquor license too if you intend to serve liquor in your bar.

5. What’s on the Menu?

A critical decision you’d need to make is this – will you go for a smaller menu and execute on super high quality OR will you offer a wide selection of items to cater to everyone’s taste?

Can you do both – i.e. wide selection and super high quality on each and every item? You’ll have to evaluate your strengths and pick a path accordingly.


6. Let’s Talk Sports

A sports bar mandates high quality screens on which the customers can watch the games. Follow these two rules for providing an amazing experience to your customers.

  • The bigger the better
  • The more the merrier

7. Hire the Best

Depending on the talent pool available and the budget you have for staffing, hire the best you can afford. Be it a chef or a server or a bartender, better employees enhance the experience of the customers – and guess what – customers return and bring their friends and family along next time. Do not discount the importance of hiring and training great staff.

Remember, A’s hire A’s, and B’s hire C’s. Make the best decision for your business, and while hiring – RAISE THE BAR!

8. Ordering and Payment System

How are your customers going to place orders and pay? Do you intend to place ordering terminals (iPads) at every table so that customers can send orders directly to the kitchen, or do you want to take the traditional route and let a waiter collect orders from table to table? Ordering terminals might save you on the costs in the long run and can also be doubled up as small entertainment screens on which you can place some pay per use content like games or trivia.

The customers can even pay for their table’s orders on the terminal itself using their credit cards – further saving staff time.

9. Spread the Word

All new businesses need a little push initially. How will you get your first set of customers? Consider creating a social media buzz – local facebook groups or an active sports fan club can be a great place to start spreading the word.

If required, you should also be prepared to spend some ad dollars on google ads or instagram ads to get some eyeballs and hopefully convert them to footfalls into your bar.

10. Build a Community

Consider building a community around your brand – engage with people on social media, host fun events on days when there are no sports to watch (can’t have game everyday, but the business needs to make money and generate cash flow to stay operational). An engaged community will support your business in a sustainable manner.

11. Factor in Real World Risks

All the planning can be done immaculately, but no business or entrepreneur is 100% immune from the real world risks. There are execution risks involved as well. Expect that not everything will go according to your plan. The success of your business will also depend on how good you are at thinking on your feet when a curveball is thrown at you. Have a plan, but be adaptable to ensure success for your business.


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how to open a sports bar business

Updated: November 18, 2021 by FinPins