1up Lisbon, the location alone is 1up!
Does location matter? Yes and no. This is version 2 of 1UP in Lisbon. The first location was in a not so good neighborhood and also hard to reach and difficult to park your car, but nonetheless, it was successful. This location however, is the opposite. It’s at the boulevard just outside the city center at the harbor. Even non-gamers would just come here for the view and the breeze. Furthermore, it’s a location that’s much easier accessible for tourists, not entirely unimportant in a holiday country like Portugal is. Jo-Jo, the owner of 1UP doesn’t know yet if that will make a difference. This summer is the first at this A-location. Normally, august is a really slow month for 1UP cause the locals are on holiday. The beginning of September will tell if the tourists will have made up for that.
1Up consists of 3 sources of income, the golden rule to run a profitable bar (any bar) according to Jo-Jo’s vision. Spreading your sources will balance the unavoidable downs that happen, as everything, including business, moves in curves. The 3 things 1UP relies on are 1. excellent food&drinks, 2. merchandise (or pc reparation) and 3. gaming income. Sometimes gaming will be slow, but people will still come because of the killer hamburgers and ice-cream and if not, the merchandise (2nd hand old school games, new games and apparel) will cover the basics. Most of the time, the 3 sources interact however. It’s tempting to play a game when you’ve just came to eat and it’s also easy to grab a bite after playing a game. All in all, it’s a smart set up.
Another thing that’s important is charging your customers for the use of the equipment. It’s something Jo-Jo didn’t set out to do, but he soon found out there’s no other way. If you let people play for free, they come in and play all day without spending any money. Besides that, nobody else gets to play because the pc’s are occupied all the time and that’s not fair. Having customers pay, even the little amount of 1,50/hour 1UP charges, gives you a source of income, makes customers respect the equipment and makes sure everybody gets the chance to play. It’s also an easy way to check if things are still working after usage. The controller gets registered to a customer and upon returning, you can check if it still works and then charge the time played.
1 Really cool thing 1UP is introducing I haven’t seen before is digital boardgames. He has had lot of demand for boardgames, so he tried it out, but it wasn’t successful. After 2 weeks most of the games were incomplete and/or broken. Not being satisfied with that, he soon found digital boardgames and ordered some for his bar (they will be there mid august at the latest). A digital boardgame consists of a 1m60 table with a 30 inch tv screen embedded with touchscreen. It works on android and has hundreds of games you can upload. For the same reason as the one mentioned above with the pc’s, there will be a small amount charged for playing, but not too much.
I don’t know if it’s the view on the harbor, the nice weather or the great food, but the 3 nights I was there, the main pose people have while playing a game is this:
it’s all very care free, people come in and out and most of them order the really huge ice cream coups or a hamburger, read: a huge hamburger, fries, salad and sauces, all on a big plate. The thing I really like: the staff uses gloves when touching food. Like in almost all the bars (except Afterlife Barcelona), the bar has plenty of pc’s, PlayStations and big screens, but most of all, a large guitar here set up with all sorts of instruments. Could this be because Jo-Jo had to give up his band to be able to run this bar? Whatever reason, it’s cool!
At the end of the interview Jo-Jo said that anyone that needs tips or help with starting an esportsbar or any bar for that matter, should feel free to get in touch with him (Facebook), he will gladly help you out with advice! Watch the interview to find out what you can do wrong, maybe even more important than all you can do right: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/164404198