Tom’s Watch Bar builds around the pitfalls of other sports bars, said cofounder Tom Ryan.
It strives to be the ultimate sports-watching entertainment experience. The restaurant is known for its 360-degree viewing rooms, meaning dozens of television screens at every turn. Central to all of those options is an oversized stadium screen, which is “first and foremost the feature of how we bring sports to life for this next generation of sports enthusiasts,” Ryan said at this year’s ICR Conference. Tom’s Watch Bar also allows guests to customize their sound. If they’re not interested in the broadcasted play-by-play, there’s a personalized app letting customers hear a particular game on their phone.
On top of those features, the brand does something most sports bars don’t—forecast its programming two weeks ahead of time. The company chooses games through an artificial intelligence program that takes into account the demographics and popularity of local sports teams. When a customer visits a specific location’s website, they will find highlighted events and a full-blown calendar from Sunday to Saturday.
“This emerging new sports enthusiast customer is really looking for an experience and ability to plan that experience,” said Ryan, who started the chain in 2014 and is also one of the founding members of Smashburger. “If you go to our website, which you can do right now, you can see what’s going to be on all of our screens over the next few weeks and also what’s going to be on our central screen. So that whole approach—having highly curated screenplay—that allows us to forecast and lets our customer bases and families really engage us on their terms. A really important part of the process.”
Tom’s Watch Bar has grown to seven locations in six states and Washington, D.C., and most are nearby a major stadium or arena. For instance, the restaurant in Denver is adjacent to Coor’s Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. In Los Angeles, the concept is across the street from Crypto.com Arena (formerly known as the Staples Center), which houses the L.A. Lakers, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Sparks, and L.A. Kings. Others are based in casinos, like Ilani Casino in Washington State and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.