Recently there has been a change in the way sports bars are run. The old model of sports bar was essentially a man-cave with a liquor license. Neon beer signs and frat boys and old farts screaming at the TV. A burly bartender who maybe took a little book served up commonplace swill and defrosted burgers. There are still plenty of those joints to watch the game, but the new model of sports bar separates the men from the metrosexuals.
The new sports bar embraces women and is run more like a regular restaurant/club. The food is well thought out and good…and pricey. The drinks are made by mixologists or hot bartenders. The prices keep some serving as a sort of door policy against the old guard coming in wearing their team’s smelly jerseys. On a big game day reservations are a must.
The busy season of sports is upon us. Pro and college football bring all the boys to the bars, and these days, the girls too. Monday Night Football packs them in and nowadays, with good food, speciality drinks and bottle service, the steady revenue streams have made this a bigger business. I feel like saying "Duh, why didn’t we think of this before?"
One of the most successful of these new sports bars is Bounce Sporting Club, with two location: one in the Flatiron District and another on the Upper East Side. As their website proudly announces, it is "reinventing the NYC sports bar."
The hospitality business evolves and once one guy or gal shows us the way, the bandwagon gets very big. Tonight, Bounce will celebrate two years of booming business. I caught up with proprietor Cole Bernard, who used to own, operate and promote regular clubs around town, and asked him a few question about Bounce and the new world order for sports bars.
How would you describe Bounce Sporting Club?
It’s a hybrid concept that caters to all different types of customers, ranging from corporate to the young general market crowd.
How dependent is the biz on actual events? Do pro and college football make for a busier season?
For most businesses in the hospitality, food and beverage world, the fall season is definitely one of the busiest times of year. Everyone is excited to have football back and it makes for a great atmosphere where customers come to watch the games and have a good time. Football season is definitely one of the busiest seasons at Bounce followed by March Madness for NCAA Basketball.
What’s different this year from last year at Bounce?
In year two, you can expect a lot of new elements that you didn’t see in year one, ranging from an updated roster of DJ’s to special performances to unique presentations. We will also be updating the menu and adding some new and different items. For example, on Sundays this season, our DJ lineup is ready to kick off. The season features some phenomenal talent, including MOS, Reach, Ross One, Mick Boogie, Sinatra and Dalton. I like to describe it as the "ultimate way to watch football."
Do you miss the "regular" club life?
Even though it’s a different environment, I still get a lot of that same energy from Bounce. Since we cater to such a wide variety of clientele, you will see many table clients that you would see at the most popular nightclubs at Bounce on a Saturday or Sunday for one of our day parties. We are definitely different from most sports bars. From the minute customers enter the venue, to the minute they leave, we want them to feel comfortable and excited about joining us no matter what day of the week or time of day.
image: Bounce Sporting Club