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Sports Bar Business Plan Sample

Aimee LevittAuthor

Executive Summary


Everybody loves an underdog. At Underdog’s Sports Bar, we celebrate the uncelebrated - teams that never make it to the World Series or the Super Bowl but who still have their devoted core of fans. Owners Quinton McCracken and Peter “Pretzel” Pezzullo, devoted fans of the Chicago White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies respectively, are excited to bring a new sports bar celebrating the underdogs, not just the constant winners. We want to create a welcoming third space that combines food, beverages, and good company, even in defeat, for the people of Evanston, Illinois.

Mission Statement

Underdog’s Sports Bar’s mission is to create a welcoming community in Evanston, Illinois, that welcomes all sorts of sports fans. 


Underdog’s Sports Bar will feature classic bar food, such as burgers, fries, onion rings, hot wings, and a hot dog bar. Takeout will allow customers to enjoy game day grub in the comfort of their own homes. Behind the bars, guests will find a wide selection of beers from Chicago and Midwestern breweries.


Evanston, Illinois, is the first suburb north of Chicago and also home to Northwestern University, itself the underdog of the Big Ten. Located along Lake Michigan, Evanston combines small-town charm with access to the big city of Chicago, with walkable neighborhoods and a bustling downtown business district. Home to 77,000 residents and easy to access by the Chicago area’s 9.5 million, Evanston offers lots of opportunities for new business ventures.


The bar’s founders will invest in its success, but they will also have to seek SBA loans, outside investments, and business lines of credit to bring this vision to life. 

Company Overview

Bar Concept

Underdog’s Sports Bar is a casual bar concept that focuses on creating a welcoming community for all sorts of sports fans, especially those who love teams that never win. Our menu will feature classic renditions of sports bar favorites, along with seasonal specials and a wide selection of beers and spirits from Chicago and the Midwest.

Underdog’s Sports Bar will make good, comforting bar food and drinks available to eaters on a budget, including students. We will have digital satellite TV to show any sport our customers may want to see, from the NCAA tournament to the World Cup to late-season afternoon baseball.

A sports bar isn’t revolutionary, especially in a college town. But, we will stand out from the competition with an approachable ethos that invites everyone to the bar. The takeout and delivery menu will offer quality and convenience while capturing the growing off-premises dining menu.

Bar Service Model

A continued service model is necessary for Underdog’s Sports Bar’s relaxed and low-key style. Handheld point-of-sale technology will enable guests and servers to work together to create a relaxed and memorable experience. Guests will also be able to order at the bar. Servers will work as a team to provide guests with attentive yet casual service that allows each party to connect and build community over sports, food, and drinks. The bar will offer a place for smaller parties to make connections with staff to discuss food, beverages, and their favorite teams.

Sample Menu

    • Local Chicago and Midwestern beer on tap, plus an extensive selection of bottled and canned brews
    • Classic and specialty cocktails
    • Burgers
    • Pretzels with cheese sauce
    • Fries with a selection of dips
    • Hot dog bar featuring grilled natural casing hot dogs and fresh toppings
    • Onion rings
    • Hot wings with different levels of spice
    • Chili in cold weather
    • Fried chicken sandwiches

Restaurant Menu Templates

Use these menu templates as a starting point for your menu design or to give your menus a refresh.


Design and Layout

Underdog’s Sports Bar will have a combination of large booths, some big enough for parties of six, that line the perimeter of the dining room, each with its TV. The dining room floor will be mostly small tables with a few options for larger parties. There will be a large U-shaped bar in the center. We will decorate with banners and memorabilia from all our favorite underdog sports teams, including the local Northwestern Wildcats. 

The staff will all wear t-shirts featuring Underdog’s logo and slip-resistant shoes. The kitchen staff will wear white coats, but the overall uniform for staff will be flexible.

Management Team

Owner - Quinton McCracken and Peter “Pretzel” Pezzullo have 20 years of industry experience in bars and restaurants in Chicago and Philadelphia. Their responsibilities include financing, administration, hiring, marketing, social media, recipe research and development, shopping, and menu pricing. They will work with an accountant on financial planning.

BOH manager – Responsibilities will include supervising kitchen staff, recipe development, scheduling, ordering, and inventory.

FOH Manager – Responsibilities will include hiring, scheduling servers and bartenders, and expo.

Industry Analysis

Located in downtown Evanston, Illinois, Underdog’s Sports Bar will attract a combination of local foot traffic, visitors to Northwestern University, and sports lovers from Chicago and surrounding suburbs.

Target Market

The population of Evanston, Illinois, is large and diverse, mostly composed of middle-income families and commuters who work in downtown Chicago. With the population's variety of tastes, demand for convenient off-premises dining is growing. We aim to attract locals who work in finance, manufacturing, technology, and the nonprofit sector. 

Many people also stay in Evanston when visiting Chicago, so there is good potential for the restaurant to attract tourists during the spring, summer, and fall. 

Underdog’s Sports Bar aims to serve customers who want a neighborhood bar that offers delicious bar food and a comfortable place to watch their favorite sports. Because Chicago is so densely populated, many are still wary of returning to in-person dining. So we will offer ample options for takeout and delivery. 

Market Positioning

There are several bars in downtown Evanston, but few of them focus on sports or provide an intimate environment for watching sports. Underdog’s Sports Bar seeks to serve the sports fans of Evanston, the north side of Chicago, and the northern suburbs.

In addition to serving bar food and drinks, Underdog’s Sports Bar will sell branded merchandise with our logo.

To generate more community and customer loyalty, we will host regular trivia nights and meetups for fans of specific teams who happen to be playing on a particular day. Bringing fans together will help build community at Underdog’s Sports Bar.

Location Analysis

Evanston, along with the rest of Chicago, is considered a high-growth region. With both traditional infrastructure and a robust public transit system, Evanston sees a steady influx of new businesses, bringing new workers (and, thus, new customers) into the city.

Evanston is home to 77,000 residents, many of whom are employed by Northwestern University or commute to Chicago for work. There is a healthy mix of apartments and single-family homes in the area.

Downtown Evanston is beautiful and walkable, and the location of Underdog’s Sports Bar is accessible to foot traffic. There is ample public parking in the area. Additionally, Evanston is connected to Chicago’s public transit system, so it is easy to reach by the region’s 9.5 million residents.

Competitive Analysis






Underdog’s Sports Bar


Lunch & Dinner


12:00 pm - 12:00 am

Kitchen, Bar, and Takeout

Bat 17


Weekend Brunch, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner


11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Intimidating menu, overwhelming interior

Celtic Knot Public House




4:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Irish pub, little interest in sports


Guide to Restaurant Social Media Marketing

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Marketing Plan

Sports fandom is all about community, and Underdog’s Sports Bar will work to build a community of guests through customer loyalty and personable, individualized service.

Customer Database

When guests order online at Underdog’s Sports Bar, we will collect their email addresses and ask if they would like to sign up for marketing emails. Customers will also be able to sign up for promotional emails on our website and social media pages. Emails will be used to advertise seasonal menu items, events, and specials.

Loyalty Program

Each dollar spent at Underdog’s Sports Bar, including online orders, will be converted into a point for our loyalty system. Customers can exchange points for free food, drinks, or merchandise. The loyalty system will be attached to a customer’s email address. That will allow us to collect emails for our marketing databases.

Community and Charity Involvement

At Underdog’s Sports Bar, we are committed to the community. That’s why we will partner with the Sports Shed, a nonprofit organization that provides sports-related resources to schools and organizations that lack funding for successful athletics. We will use our weekly trivia nights to raise money for the Sports Shed and host equipment drives twice a year.

Underdog’s Sports Bar will sponsor a youth team in the Evanston Baseball and Softball Association.

Public Relations

Evanston has a robust economic development plan, and the city’s chamber of commerce hosts a website that features local restaurants and events in Evanston. The opening of Underdog’s Sports Bar will be featured on the chamber of commerce website and the business will be listed on the website’s “restaurants” page.

Underdog’s Sports Bar will also participate in Taste of Evanston where the community gathers on the lakefront to celebrate the start of fall with local vendors and restaurants. Underdog’s Sports Bar will operate a booth that sells small plates and beer while generating brand recognition.

Advertising and Social Media

Underdog’s Sports Bar is a bar of the 21st century. While our priority is building a local community of sports lovers, we will also use social media to generate interest in the bar. Our space will be decorated with sports memorabilia from underdog teams to generate nostalgia in our visitors. Our Instagram and Facebook pages will be filled with food, drinks, and people-watching sports to amass a local and worldwide following and generate new customers. We will also advertise in the local and student papers.

Additionally, we will rely on local word-of-mouth marketing and consistent foot traffic in Evanston, especially around the Northwestern campus. Our service will be uniquely personable and the staff will be trained to create community rather than just making sales to attract and retain a regular customer base. Our customers will be encouraged to grow the community by sharing their experiences on Yelp, Google, and Instagram.

Operations Plan

Staffing and Training

There are two critical roles to fill in Underdog’s Sports Bar: the BOH manager and the FOH manager. We will also hire about 12 servers and 6 bartenders for FOH staff. For kitchen staff, we will need to hire 8 cooks.

Staff training will take place in the months leading up to the bar’s opening. The owner and executive chef will conduct interviews and hire the BOH manager and FOH manager based on Underdog’s Sports Bar’s values. Then, we will work with the BOH and FOH managers to hire the remaining kitchen and FOH staff.


To recruit skilled BOH and FOH staff members, we will use,, and Evanston’s online job board. Our hiring process will be selective; we want every team member to be committed to building community in the restaurant.

Interview Questions

  1. What are your career goals?
  2. How would your previous employer describe you?
  3. Describe how you work as part of a team. What role are you comfortable in on the team?
  4. What is one of your biggest accomplishments?
  5. When are you available to work?
  6. What challenged you the most in your last job?
  7. What is your favorite food? How would you describe it to a guest?
  8. How do you handle conflict with coworkers?
  9. How do you handle conflict with customers?
  10. What skills do you see as necessary for success in this role?

Job Descriptions

BOH Manager: 

The back-of-house manager is responsible for overseeing BOH operations in the restaurant. Their duties include hiring and training, scheduling, overseeing production, quality control, ordering and keeping track of inventory and leading the BOH staff. They are also involved in marketing and promotion for the restaurant.

FOH Manager:

The front-of-house manager will assist the BOH manager and owners to ensure smooth operations throughout service. Their responsibilities include hiring and training FOH staff, running staff meetings, scheduling, supply inventory, and customer care. FOH managers will also be integral to marketing and promotional campaigns.


Cooks will be responsible for prepping ingredients and will be assigned to a workstation during service to execute orders. Speed and consistency are necessary skills for line cooks. They must also be able to coordinate with the team of line cooks and be able to handle high-pressure environments.


Dishwashers will be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing all cookware and service wear. Additionally, they will help the rest of the staff to keep the restaurant clean and organized.


Our bartenders will work together to craft specialty cocktails. They will also be responsible for prepping ingredients and fulfilling orders during service. Bartenders at Underdog’s Sports Bar will be encouraged to make genuine connections over food, beverage, and sports to foster community with our bar guests. They should be able to answer questions about the food and drink menu and be knowledgeable about dietary restrictions.


The priority of servers at Underdog’s Sports Bar is to create a sense of belonging while guests are in the restaurant. They will use handheld point-of-sale systems and work as a team to ensure all guest's needs are met promptly. Responsibilities include taking orders, running food, collecting payments, and communicating between guests and the kitchen. They should be able to answer any questions about the menu and ingredients, maintaining a thorough understanding of how to handle dietary restrictions.

Work Health and Safety Standards

To make Underdog’s Sports Bar as safe a working environment as possible for everyone, we will implement the following health and safety procedures.

Everyone will wear proper protective equipment and clothing when working in the kitchen. All staff is required to wear slip-resistant footwear. BOH staff will wear pants and white coats while cooking.

To avoid injury on the job, all staff will be trained on how to move heavy objects and boxes, along with how to handle the extremely hot or cold temperatures of the sports bar.

Management staff will work to create safe practices and procedures, removing potential hazards to employees and guests.

FOH and BOH staff will work together to communicate about guests’ dietary restrictions and avoid cross-contamination of products. 

Staff will not be expected to work when ill. Management will help to get shifts covered, keeping the restaurant running smoothly so that the pressure doesn’t fall on ill employees.

Underdog’s Sports Bar will follow all local health guidelines and restrictions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Staffing Model

Underdog’s Sports Bar will operate an open-book management model where the restaurant’s finances are shared with management staff and disseminated to all employees in the restaurant. We will hold quarterly staff meetings to share information about the business’s goals. This transparent model will encourage goodwill with employees. All non-management employees will be hourly employees.

  • Dishwashers, line cooks, and prep cooks will make a base hourly rate of $22/hour. 
  • FOH service staff, including bartenders and servers, will be paid $9/hour plus shared tips. 
  • All employees will be eligible for raises with each satisfactory employee evaluation, conducted once per quarter.

Customer Service Policies and Procedures

Three principles will guide guest service at Underdog’s Sports Bar:

  1. Community. The first goal of customer service is to make each guest feel like part of the community while in the Underdog’s Sports Bar. Staff will be friendly, welcoming, and attentive to guest needs. They will offer detailed answers to questions and invite them to immerse themselves in the full sports bar experience.
  2. Consistency. The kitchen and service staff will work to provide a consistent guest experience even as our menus change seasonally. The bartenders will be warm, patient, and informative during every visit.
  3. Compassion. All guests have different needs, and our service staff will be trained to handle different kinds of customers and various dietary needs with compassion and care. We will ask follow-up questions and make notes in our guest database about dietary restrictions. When conflicts with guests arise, servers will lead with patience and understanding to de-escalate and make the experience memorable.


Underdog’s Sports Bar will work with several local brewers and distillers to source craft brews and spirits. A few examples are Sketchbook Brewing Co., Double Clutch Brewing Company, and Temperance Beer Co.

For restaurant supplies, we will develop a relationship with the local restaurant supply company to have convenient access to the equipment and supplies we need.

Financial Analysis and Growth Plan

Investment Plan

Owners Quinton McCracken and Peter “Pretzel” Pezzullo will each invest personal savings of $50,000, for a total of $100,000 in initial investment. They will also seek a 7(a) Small Business Association for $200,000 and outside investments of $200,000 from business owners and entrepreneurs in the Alexandria area. Total startup funds equal $500,000. $150,000 will be retained for contingency funds and the remaining $350,000 will be used as startup funds.

Outside investors will be pitched a 15% return-on-investment, for a total of $75,000/annually, once the business becomes profitable. The owner and executive chef won’t take a salary until the restaurant becomes profitable, at which point they will cap their salaries at $90,000/year.

Business lines of credit will be sought for some expenses, such as initial orders for equipment, supplies, and ingredients. They will refuse any lines of credit above 5% interest. 

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