By the end of February, the SportClub (750 N. Jefferson St.) will try to drive drinkers, diners and sports revelers to a previously quiet corner across the street from the former George Watts & Son Inc. Parent company Caravan Hospitality Group also operates Panga Bar & Grill in Summit, Wis.; Nomad Nacional pop-up (due to open May 1); and the two locations of Nomad World Pub.
Although the goal is to have an operational SportClub before the craziness of March Madness, the bar’s theme isn’t specific to hoops or to soccer (for which CEO Mike Eitel’s other bars are known). The huge space (5,400 square feet) – plus a patio and sidewalk cafe expected to open later this year – will have a 1950s “varsity feel” that celebrates competitive sport in general and specifically showcases fans.
The drinks will be varied, including not only 30 tap beers but craft cocktails, champagne cocktails and a mimosa menu. The kitchen’s responsibilities are serving lunch, dinner and weekend breakfast – and staffing the order/pickup windows at the concession stand (yes, they’re calling it concession-style food) for lunch, happy hour and late-night carryout. The tenor of the menu is handheld street foods – “domestic favorites to global items,” per the press release announcing the opening.
After a Friday afternoon menu tasting, Eitel said this: “My favs so far are the Korean Popcorn Chicken, the Salchi Papas (deep fried hot dog ‘art’ with fries and hot sauce) from Latin America, and then our invention we’re calling the Panga Hotfish. The inspiration for this menu came from me dragging my kids around the world and seeing what types of street food they liked! For SportClub, it morphed into street food that made it into the concession stands of stadiums around the world. For instance, the food you eat in a stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil or Madrid, Spain is vastly different than what you would find in Memphis or Green Bay.”
SportClub’s kitchen hours-to-be: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-1 a.m. (with a Friday SportBrunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.); Sat-Sun Matchday Breakfast 6 a.m.-noon, with food service continuing until 1 a.m.