Operator credits live sport for an uplift in bar turnover
NICO’S Cafe Bar on Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street has made a name for itself as a live sports venue in recent years – which should come as no surprise to anyone who meets the venue’s owners.
Since taking over the unit three years ago, sport has been a major focus for co-owner, and former Motherwell FC player, Adam Coakley.
“I played football professionally and with the other two partners, football is their passion so we tried to turn it [Nico’s] into a venue we would go to,” Coakley told SLTN.
Since taking on the site Coakley claims to have doubled sales, with live sports a key driver for footfall.
The boxing is our biggest night. Box office fights are just brilliant here.
“It can be wall to wall in here when the game is on,” he said.
The customers aren’t the only aspect of the business that’s “wall to wall” during a big football match, with seven plasma screens ensuring the game is visible from any corner.
And for occasions when customers are divided on which game to watch, the venue has two Sky boxes and can split the pub into different zones to accommodate two sets of fans.
However it’s not just equipment that keeps customers coming to Nico’s for live sports. Coakley highlighted the bar’s atmosphere as a key component in its sporting success.
“It’s a real friendly vibe [in Nico’s] and I try and encourage that,” he said.
“We have the commentary on really loud [during games]and we get strips for the staff.”
Coakley said he encourages staff involvement when it comes to live sport to ensure there’s enthusiasm on match days.
“To be honest, I think the atmosphere comes from the people in charge,” he said.
“When the staff are passionate people love that.”
Passionate staff may form the foundation of the Nico’s offer, but a combination of promotion and live entertainment also play a part in bringing in the crowds.
“With Facebook and Twitter we put the fixtures on every day with the prices, and [post] if there’s a quiz,” said Coakley.
On Champions League football nights, the Nico’s quiz is hosted by radio DJ Fraser Thomson, who formerly hosted the Real Radio football phone-in before the station was bought over.
The Nico’s pub quiz is one way in which the venue boosts dwell time, although Coakley admitted that at least part of an evening’s success can be in the lap of the footballing gods.
“Hopefully it keeps them in the pub, but the result depends a lot too,” he said.
The outlet is also no stranger to tempting customers with a double header and despite the venue’s footballing credentials, rounding off a day’s sport with boxing has been a big hit for the bar.
“The boxing is our biggest night,” he said.
“Box office fights are just brilliant in here. It’s mobbed.
“It’s [a] guaranteed [success]. It’s like a penalty kick for us.
“All we do is put on every fight with sound and commentary. It’s brilliant.
“I get texts and phone calls from people of all walks of life who come in.”
For publicans, it’s not enough to have big crowds in watching the screens, you also need to offer the right products at the bar. And on match day at Nico’s, draught is king.
“On match day 80% of sales are draught,” said Coakley.
A free-of-tie Belhaven customer, the draught beer range at Nico’s comprises Tennent’s, Carling, Heineken, Peroni and Guinness; a spread Coakley said was good for customers and sales.
“Different crowds come in to watch the game so it’s good to have a variety,” he said.