Fast-growing sports bar chain adds outlet
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.
while a fourth
will open at
just off of
able to expand
quite rapidly in
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
Other ideas that enticed the two were
Reno’s steady population growth and the
“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,”
The amount of business also varies at
“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
“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
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
“The most important thing is the
quality of service, which we still need to
continue to work on,” Black said.
“The thing that I like most about entrepreneurship is I can work toward something that I’m passionate about and be at the forefront of the change that I want to see happen,” said Priyanka Senthil, a senior at Davidson Academy in Reno and co-founder of startup company AUesome.