Kevin Moll, president of Denver, Colorado-based Restaurant Consulting Services, says customers are confused about the identity of sports bars. “Are they a bar that serves food, or do they specialize in alcohol? Is it a place to drink and watch sports or a place to get a meal?” he says.
To develop its competitive edge, every sports bar has to conduct “specific market research of what they can offer that other eateries don’t,” Moll says.
American tastes are constantly in flux and most sports bars became “same-old, same-old,” Moll adds. Stibel agreed, saying, “If you’re not innovating, you’re old news.” Sports bars need to introduce new “sauces or beers” or lose their customers, he says.
Many sports bars are viewed like a fraternity house for millennials or an after-work drinking place for guys. And that left women, who compose 51 percent of the population, and families feeling left out.
“If a sports bar wants to be busy, it should market itself exclusively to female clientele. You’ll get guys automatically,” Moll quips.
To adapt, sports bars need to modify their menu, Moll says. Offer chicken wings sautéed in lemon or olive oil as an alternative to fried chicken wings and quinoa as an option to fries.
Glory Days Grill, which has 34 eateries (21 company-owned and 13 franchised), mostly in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Florida, refers to itself as a “grill and bar or a sports-themed family restaurant,” says Gary Cohen, its Gaithersburg, Maryland-based executive vice president. But it has been growing, adding four outlets in 2017, and will add five by the end of 2018.
Cohen prefers not to describe it as a sports bar because of the negative connotations, “like pub grub and fried foods, and a bunch of guys standing around and yelling at a TV.”