Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Strange Case Of The "Sports Bar For Women"

The latest mini-trend in Las Vegas seems to be restaurants and bars specifically targeted for the ladies. Eva Longoria's SHe by Morton's is a hip and intimate Steakhouse complete with DJs, dancers on elevated catwalks, and stilt-walkers that's already targeting groups of female friends heading out for a lady's night. The trend will continue with Heraea, a sports bar opening soon in The Palms (if the resort emerges from recent troubles unscathed) designed to appeal to the fairer sex from hip restaurant and bar gurus The One Group.

That's right, a sports bar for the ladies.

On first glance, the idea seems incredibly stupid. By no means am I arguing that women don't like sports or sports bars... in fact, that's what makes it ridiculous. Many, many women love sports, but I've never met one who went to watch a game and wished they had a more girl-friendly option at which to enjoy the Football game. I don't know any women who feel that Nachos and Beer are for boys, and wish they had better options Kale Salad and Cosmo options while they watch the game. The whole idea sounds like it could be potentially sexist even as its intended to be "for women." But then again, maybe The One Group people are onto something.

In an interview with The Las Vegas Sun, One Group CEO Jonathan Segal described his vision in two paragraphs that only sorta traffic sexist stereotypes:  “A couple are planning to go out in Vegas. The guy says, ‘Will you watch the game with me?’ The girl turns around and says, ‘OK, I want to go to Heraea at the Palms.’ And the guy says, ‘OK!’ He thinks he’s making the decision, but he’s not!”

Segal then added  "we have done the research, and 75 percent of all househould decisions are made by wives or girlfriends... and 100 percent of guys think they are in control, so women have learned exactly how to make the decisions while making us think we're making them. This hits exactly to the point of what we're aiming to do here."

Statistics like "100 percent of guys think they are in control," sound awfully unscientific, insultingly portray women as the ultimate manipulators and men and easily duped simpletons, and are basically as believable as stories of Manti Te'O's dead girlfriend (topical! and a sports reference!), but I can see his point. From what I can gather, Heraea will feature upscale food, chic design, and a bit of the restaurant as nightclub vibe that made The One Group's STK at The Cosmopolitan such a big hit. Despite a slogan that teases Heraea will be "where girls go to play," (a tag that might imply the place is the most expensive Lesbian Bar in a major Vegas resort, though if it becomes successful at that I'm sure The One Group will nto complain) the concept seems to be more of a sports bar that ladies who DON'T like sports will be okay with visiting with their husband/ boyfriends. and not an answer to the prayers of women who love sports but hate sports bars... because, again, I'm not really sure that's a demographic that exists. A Portlandia book store like place that is a "safe space for women" this will not be, I'm assuming.

But who knows? Perhaps The One Group is evolving the Sports Bar into something new, something that Sports Bars of the future will have to respond to. Personally, I think a place that pours cold Beer and serves giant plates of cheesy Nachos with your Football is a perfect thing, a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but The One Group's experiment in upscale and feminine friendly Pubbery works, then I'll be happy to say I'm wrong.

And it's also possible it will succeed simply because in bringing in more dudes who would go to a sports bar anyway but choose Hereae because they expect to find more ladies to chat up while they watch the game. In which case, well played, One Group. Well played.

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