July 02, 2007

Shifting Gears On-Premise Opportunities Pick up the Pace of NASCAR's Popularity

When you are in downtown Las Vegas and have to wait an additional 20 to 30 minutes for a cab because of the lines of men and women needing them to get to the day’s nearby NASCAR race, it dawns on you just how much this come-from-behind sport has expanded. It’s now has the second most TV coverage behind the NFL.

The sport now has reached a new echelon of visibility in the bar industry, and it’s no longer relegated to independent operations. Proof positive is the latest venture in racing and revenue achieved by Baltimore, Md.-based The Cordish Company, the large-scale operations and development brains behind leading entertainment districts such as The Power Plant and Power Plant Live (Baltimore Md.), 4th Street Live (Louisville, Ky.), Paradise Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Hollywood, Fla.) and numerous national restaurant and bar concepts.

Setting up shop in Orlando, Fla., The Cordish Company has pushed the envelope with its ultra-modern homage to stock car racing, NASCAR Sports Grille, and the result has taken its operators to victory lane in a few short months since its VIP Valentine’s Day grand opening.

From Paper to Pavement

“We initially were approached in 2005 by the France family, the owners of NASCAR,” says Reed Cordish, vice president of the company. “They had licensed the name to NASCAR Café 11-12 years ago, but considering the latest statistics related to the sport, the idea was to create something edgier, more contemporary – something truly befitting of what NASCAR has become.”

They did just that, rebuilding the old concept from the ground up in Orlando’s City Walk.

“The first thing apparent to guests is that they’re in a very high-quality restaurant and sports bar,” Cordish says. By heavily utilizing the latest in technology throughout the venue, the vision has come to fruition.

Highlights of the 25,000-square-foot NASCAR Sports Grille include a 37-foot media wall, HDTV in every set and interactive plasma TV screens located at each table.
 Another innovation is the speaker setup. They are set around the bar area to contain sound – even while at high volume – so that nearby diners are not disturbed by the din in the bar area and are able to control their own screens and sounds to satisfaction.

Four Walls, Full Throttle

Despite the high-tech nature of the concept, Cordish says technology was the second priority in a list of three focus areas (in order of importance): food and beverage, an incredible technological venue for NASCAR viewing and sports viewing, and a celebration of NASCAR, its history and its fans. With a full-service food and beverage menu, guests who come in to NASCAR Sports Grille to catch a race can enjoy quality fare all day and night.

“At its heart and its core, it’s a great dining experience,” Cordish says, adding that the venue’s five signature steaks are part of what’s driving excitement. “Because the concept got such a quick buzz, it was more about four-walls marketing – making the experience as perfect as possible.”

The high-quality NASCAR Sports Grille achieved $1 million in sales within weeks of opening.

“Considering the immense popularity of NASCAR and the quality of NASCAR Sports Grille, we know this concept can succeed in numerous markets,” Cordish says.          “NASCAR Sports Grille is being pursued by leading projects around the country. It should grow and it will.”

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