Sports Bars are the Best Franchise Option

August 2023

If you’re planning to open a restaurant, there are dozens of options – but when you envision your future restaurant, it’s easy to picture a sports bar. The sports bar is ubiquitous. In fact, we’re willing to bet you’re close to one right now! It’s a classic gathering place, a watering hole where folks can meet and cheer on their favorite teams. Regulars know their favorite sports bars inside out and backwards, love the experience of knowing their waitstaff and bartenders by name, and being welcomed with their favorite drinks and meals.

Opening a sports bar is about more than making that daydream a reality – it’s a sound business decision that can be a serious income for savvy investors.

Happy guests "cheers" in a sports barThe Economics of Opening a Sports Bar

Opening a restaurant is, first and foremost, a business, so let’s start with the numbers. A sports bar is an excellent investment in an uncertain industry, and there’s a reason Barrel House is built on the model of the upscale tavern.

Growth Rate for Sports Bars

The growth rate for sports bars through 2029 is through the roof. Based on research from MarketInsightReports, the “Sports Bar Market size is projected to accrue voluminously… registering a phenomenal CAGR of 6.1%” from last year through 2029. This incredible compound annual growth rate speaks to the strength of demand for sports bars around the country, especially as interest in dining out remains strong post-Covid.

Sports Fans Love Sports Bars

Global Sport Matters recently conducted a study and concluded that “[s]ixty-six percent of the overall population of adult respondents named food service spots as one of the ways they consume live sports on linear television — scheduled broadcasts viewed by the audience at the time it airs — outside their homes.” Additionally, “68 percent responded they “like to view (sports) with others” and that was the reason for their out-of-house TV.”

This is a huge segment of the market, all looking for a favorite sports bar where they can become a regular and enjoy their game of choice. And the diversity of sports seasons is another major advantage of opening a sports bar

Sports Bars Are an Evergreen Business Choice

There aren’t many restaurant models that maintain constant popularity year-round. But the sports bar is an exception to this rule.

Why? Well, put simply, there’s almost always a sport on. Whether it’s football season, basketball season, hockey season, or baseball season, there will be games to show. And that’s before you even begin to consider sports with smaller, but equally dedicated, followings.

How to Make a Sports Bar Succeed

Sports bars are a growing market for a reason – people love them. But standing out in this competitive industry can be a serious challenge.

The sports bars that succeed are the ones investing in R&D and innovating their business model. That’s a priority for Barrel House, between our commitment to using the best in new technology and our marketing team’s investment in staying on top of what guests want most.

We’ve discussed the benefits of opening a franchise location extensively in the past. And many of the most successful sports bars are, in fact, franchise locations. Barrel House’s secret weapon is turning each location into a fixture in its local community – because after all, that’s a big part of a sports bar’s appeal.

A man and woman enjoy a beer and wings in a Barrel House sports barWhy People Love Sports Bars

Sports bars are beloved by their patrons for many reasons, all of which the Barrel House business model is built to enhance.

Sports Bar Favorites: Food, Drinks, and Entertainment

One major advantage of watching the game at a sports bar is the number of amenities available. All Barrel House locations have a wide variety of drinks available – from guests’ favorite canned domestic beers, to local beers on tap, to a full bar with a bartender available to make cocktails you just can’t replicate easily at home.

Beyond the drinks, the food at Barrel House is a cut above, as well. We have plenty of classic choices, like a hearty burger, but also offer great appetizers that are easy to share, spicy foods for a challenge, and a wider variety of foods to meet everyone’s dietary preferences and needs.

And, of course, each Barrel House is designed to ensure everyone can see the game on a sizeable screen, so everyone can cheer (or groan) together as they watch the game.

Building Community at Sports Bars

Another reason so many sports fans prefer to watch their favorite sports at a bar – the sense of community. Sitting near fellow fans builds camaraderie just the same way attending a tailgate or game can. And sure, the opponents fans might be at the same sports bar, but heckling them is all part of the fan experience.

This sense of community is a huge boon for your business. At Barrel House, we’ve seen how guests can connect within the restaurant, and these guests are infinitely more likely to become regulars. When your restaurant is a community hub, it becomes the default gathering place for fans, earning you their loyalty and repeated business. If your location becomes the de facto place for fans of a certain team to meet, you can also predict busy nights, and staff accordingly to ensure guests have a consistently great experience.

Sports Bars are the Best Place to Watch the Game

If your town doesn’t have a major sports team, it makes sense that local guests wouldn’t buy a ticket to their team’s games. But even if it does, many fans prefer watching from a sports bar to attending the game in person. Between ticket costs, parking fees, and the inflated prices for subpar food and drinks, attending a game and getting a meal can be extremely expensive. In contrast, there’s no cost to walk through the doors of a Barrel House location. The food and drinks are going to be of superior quality, and a better deal than ballpark or arena prices could offer. And of course, parking options are far superior at a restaurant.

The other option is to watch from home, or for groups of fans to gather at one another’s homes. But Barrel House offers plenty of comfortable seating, huge TVs with a great view, and a full bar and restaurant for gametime snacks and drinks. There’s no preparation, setup, or cleanup required – fans just pick a time and meet up.

The New Generation of Sports Bars

Think back to the sports bar you imagined at the beginning of this article. What did it look like? A little dark, perhaps, and maybe not as clean as most restaurants. Maybe the bar options were limited to cheap domestic light beers, and the food came from a toaster oven or, worse, a microwave. It’s true that the sports bar industry has a bit of a reputation – but Barrel House is part of the new generation of sports bars, which are breaking that mold.

Upscale Sports Bars

Each Barrel House location is thoughtfully designed to be comfortable (and, yes, well-lit!) for all guests. A variety of seating options cater to large and small groups, and each location includes a patio for outdoor seating during warm weather.

A Barrel House isn’t a formal restaurant – everyone will feel equally welcome in jeans and t-shirt or their work clothes. But we’ve worked hard to cultivate an environment that’s both comfortable, and a cut above the old-fashioned dark, smokey sports bars of years past.

Sports Bar specials - Burger Basket MondaysSports Bars with Great Food

As a more upscale model, we provide great food that goes beyond a sad single-patty burger or frozen mozzarella sticks. Guests can enjoy the game over a tasty Barrel Burger with our signature fry seasoning, or split a flatbread, or enjoy fish tacos. Vegan guests can order a black bean burger (and more!), and guests who bring their kids have plenty of tasty options.

The Best Drinks for a Sports Bar

Our full bar includes fun crossovers like our energy-drink based cocktails, and partnerships with local breweries to make sure your guests’ favorite craft beers are available on tap. With the current cocktail revival, having a trained bartender on hand to make any drink patrons can imagine is a huge advantage.

A Sports Bar That’s for Everyone

In addition to the environment, food, and drinks, Barrel House is inviting to everyone. If non-fans want to tag along for the game, or families of fans want to bring their kids, Barrel House is still a comfortable and fun environment.

This expands your customer base beyond just sports fans, as Barrel House has something to offer everyone, but also ensures that you’re still catering to that core demographic.

Why Is A Sports Bar Franchise Your Best Investment Option?

Put simply, a Barrel House franchise locations meets the needs of both investors and the communities that will become regulars, making it your best option for opening a restaurant.

Between skyrocketing market growth and strong customer demand, a sports bar is a sound investment for any business owner. We’re passionate about opening great restaurants in this space, and if you’re interested in getting started, we’d love to hear from you!