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Fast-growing sports bar chain adds outlet

Duane Johnson

Four years ago, Andy Black and Dave

Martin arrived in the Reno area to introduce

a new sports bar known as Sparky’s.

Since opening their first store in

Sparks at 1450 E. Prater Way, business

has boomed for the two entrepreneurs.

Two other locations, in south Reno at

4050 S. McCarran Blvd. and west Reno

at 9570 S.

McCarran Blvd.,

have opened

while a fourth

location soon

will open at

Wedge Parkway

just off of

Mount Rose

Highway in

South Meadows.

“We’ve been

able to expand

quite rapidly in

four years,”

Black said.

In addition to

the current and future Sparky’s, Black

and Martin have added two other local

pubs with longstanding roots in the area.

The two purchased The Little Waldorf

Grill & Saloon at 1661 N. Virginia St.,

and The Doghouse Pub and Grill at

1451 E. Prater Way (next to the original

Sparky’s). After taking over the struggling

establishments, Black and Martin

have since refurbished the buildings and

business picked up considerably.

Black and Martin, both from San

Jose, Calif., are lifelong friends who were

eager to go into business together.

Black, a former probation officer and

Martin, a photographer, eventually

decided to try their hand at opening a

sports bar. They figured it would be a

fairly safe venture.

“We had always talked about it and

we finally went ahead and did it,” Black

said. “We brainstormed all kinds of

ideas. We decided on a sports bar

because food and liquor are always a constant.

People will always go out to places

to eat and drink in good times and bad.”

The partners first looked into start-up

in their native northern California, but

didn’t find the atmosphere conducive to

their business plans. Black and Martin

wanted to have a 24-hour bar and restaurant,

something that was available in the

Reno area.

Other ideas that enticed the two were

Reno’s steady population growth and the

gaming industry.

“The chance to have a 24-hour business

and the gaming was a big part of

coming to Reno,” Black said.

Each location has 15 slot machines

along with other amenities such as pool

tables and arcade games. Each location

has an assortment of TVs to watch a

variety of sports events. Sparky’s also

offers sports packages such as NFL

Sunday Ticket, allowing fans to watch

any pro football game they choose.

Black said the keys to their business

success and expansion is found in the fact

that the locations appeal to variety of different

social groups and offer a diverse

menu as well.

“We cater to everybody,” Black said.

“Sometimes we’ll have Pop Warner football

teams and soccer teams come in.”

Sparky’s District Manager Kim

Benson credits the store’s friendly environment

for its growth.

“We’re a big family-oriented business,”

Benson said.

The amount of business also varies at

each location.

“Every store is different,” Benson said.

“Each store is busy on a different day of

the week. It all depends on what each

business and location caters to.”

Benson said that the company is

geared for locals. It also gives people

another fresh alternative for people who

prefer to not go to large casinos to watch

sporting events.

“Our biggest piece of the pie is

locals,” Benson said. “If there’s a game

showing, we’re going to have a packed

house anyway. Some local people don’t

like the casinos to watch Monday Night

Football or the World Series.”

The menu ranges from Italian to

seafood, and Benson said the menu

changes frequently. Because they are

open 24 hours, they serve breakfast,

lunch and dinner.

“We have a good menu and it changes

every six months,” Benson said.

One food item that has enhanced

Sparky’s reputation is the company’s own

brand of pizza. The thick-crusted pizza is

homemade, baked fresh daily in berth

ovens and delivered to each location on a

daily basis.

To drive sales, the company relies

largely on broadcast advertising.

Other than the opening of the new

store, little significant change is planned

for Sparky’s in the near future. Black,

however, wouldn’t rule out either eventually

another location or buying another

bar already in existence.

Black and Martin mostly want to

build on the company’s strengths, and

they rely heavily on Benson as district

manager and each store’s management

team.

“The most important thing is the

quality of service, which we still need to

continue to work on,” Black said.


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