In November 2019, Drew Gates debuted 3rd Base LA just off Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip. With offerings like Fried Brussels Sprouts, Philly Cheesesteak Sliders, and Shrimp Pasta, the concept was positioned as an elevated alternative to the usual sports grill. Still, the in-person experience was a vital part to business so when COVID struck mere months after the restaurant opened, the brand found itself with challenges aplenty. But as Gates points out, renovations, prime real estate, and a parking lot patio helped 3rd Base make it through to the other side.
We saw a void in the market for sports lounges that cater to the people who would enjoy something other than just the fried food that you will see in a normal sports bar. We wanted to make sure that people weren’t just coming for the games. Food was the most important ingredient for this concept. People are always looking for higher quality food, especially in Los Angeles, which has become sort of a foodie town.
Just getting the place to open was a very proud moment. It’s sort of like raising a child and watching the child take its first step. It takes so much work between designing the menu and the space, working out all the operational challenges, and then hiring and training people and getting them on board with the mission. The previous tenant was there for 15 years. The space was old, so we had to rip everything out. We also had to redo the plumbing and electrical.
We opened in November of 2019, and then everything shut down in March. Thankfully we have access to a parking lot that’s right in front of our building, so we were able to set up an outdoor dining patio, and that really saved us.
Then there were all kinds of strange rules. We couldn’t turn on the TVs last January and February even in the outdoor setting. I think it was because the Super Bowl is in February and people go out to watch the games and [L.A. county] wanted people to stay home to watch it.
Location was the key. We’re in the heart of Hollywood. It’s a heavily populated residential area, and there’s a lot of foot traffic. We also spent quite a bit of money on updating the exterior of the building to attract some of that foot traffic. After that, digital marketing, social media marketing, and influencer marketing came together to expose the brand to a wide enough audience to sustain the business.
Word to the wise
Finding the right location and negotiating a good lease are very important. Depending on how much work needs to be done, working with the right general contractor could make or break it. We also work with attorneys who help us get permits through faster.
It’s about getting a team of people that you trust together in the beginning. Once you open doors, a whole other set of challenges arises, but before you cross that bridge, you need to get the doors open.