One of my biggest gripes about San Francisco isn’t the sky-high rents, the total lack of summer, or even the techies who are ruining, well, everything. It’s the fact that SF has great sports teams and great bars, but not a single great sports bar.
What qualities make up a “great” sports bar? For me, it’s the following:
1. Lots of HD Flat Screen TVs
It would seriously shock you how many bars go to the lengths to put in a sweet TV setup only to then have a row of beer taps that completely obstruct your view if you’re sitting at the bar.
2. The Ability to View Several TVs from a Central Location
Listen, that’s great that you have 15 TVs or whatever, but if I can only see one football game when I’m sitting in the middle of the bar, then you’re doing it wrong.
3. Comfy Seating
I don’t need heated leather seats or anything (I mean, I do if it’s a car but that’s a whole other story), but if I am going to plunk my ass down in your bar for anywhere from three to seven hours, then make sure my fat ass isn’t going to slide off of your bar stool.
I went to a bar recently to watch the NFL playoffs and they seriously played music for the entire game. They also had the sound on, but refused to turn off the music. I promise, no one wants to hear “Fire and Rain” while watching grown men destroy each other. And I don’t just want “sound,” I want loud sound. If I’m going to leave the comfort of my home to watch the game, I want to be able to hear what the announcers are saying.
Full bar. Including a decent wine selection.
This is where most sports bars in SF fail. They’ve got the TVs. They’ve got the sound. They’ve got the beverages. But they don’t serve food. Sure, you can bring take out in to most of them, but once I’m settled in, I don’t want to get up to do anything but pee. Also, I’d like more options than nachos, fries, wings and the token “healthy” choice, which is always a hummus platter.
7. Great Service
I think great service is pretty self-explanatory, but in a sports-watching situation (especially football), there are a few extra things I look for. Mainly: Make sure the game is on before the game starts. Don’t make patrons ask you where games will be or to change the channel. Clearly label each television with the morning and afternoon games so that people can find their seats based on this information. Also, never say to someone, “I can’t believe how long you just hung out in here!” after she just left you a 35% tip. And yes, that happened to me the other day.
8. Good Lighting & Clean Bathrooms
So the latter is probably obvious, but the former, not so much. My favorite sports bars are ones with tons of windows and natural light. But not light that glares off of the televisions, duh. If I’m going to spend hours inside a bar, I don’t want to feel like I’m in a cave. I’m all about avoiding that “walks out of the bar at 4pm and blinks and squints crazily because what is that sunshine thing doing still awake?” feeling.
9. Super Girlie Décor
Think pink walls, chandeliers and a “softer design.”
A new sports bar in Manhattan, however, thought those things were just what were needed in order to attract a female following. Campeón, a bar serving up 36 flat screen TVs and Mexico City-style street cuisine, didn’t want women to feel like they were sitting in a “a men’s kind of club.” So instead of just creating a bar that was, oh, I dunno: gender neutral, owner Ken Sturm decided the spot needed fuchsia walls, mirrors shaped like suns, and signature cocktails that are all, you guessed it: pink.
I’m pretty anti “pink” in sports in general (sorry ladies, but your pink jersey is lame; you’re supposed to show your support by wearing your team colors, not the color you think is cute), but a sports bar using pink for all of the décor because they think THAT’S how they’ll get girls inside? Listen, that’s fine that the owner wanted to make his bar “not like Hooters” (his words, not mine), he just went to an extreme that, personally, I find a little sexist and insulting.
I am not the only one. When word got out about Campeón’s reason behind their décor decisions, the ladies took to Twitter to complain.
The restaurant responded saying the pink walls were inspired by Mexico, not Barbie, and I’m thinking that I need to go back to Mexico to investigate because the last 10 times I was there I didn’t eat in a single restaurant with a bright pink color scheme.
To be fair, the owner did point out on Twitter that the restaurant also has exposed brick walls (yawn), but even those have pink tiles in them, so his backpedaling isn't quite working.
Frankly, had the owner never said he was gearing the bar toward women, I don’t think a single person would have noticed.
All he needed to do was ask any female sports fan who would have told him that making a bar feel like a champagne lounge was an unnecessary step to getting female patrons through the doors. Rather, Sturm could have and should have just focused on the part of his concept that was awesome: yummy Mexican food, good drinks, tons of TVs, and sports.
Sold! Margarita on the rocks. No salt. Pass the chips and guac, please. Oh, and do you mind turning up the sound?