The 40/40 Club in New York may garner attention for its owner—Jay-Z, but it has been quick to establish itself as a one of the most dynamic sports bars in the city.
The upscale sports lounge focuses on major sports like football, basketball, baseball and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but it’s also diversifying its promotions. This year, the club hosted its inaugural Kentucky Derby promotion.
“Even though we’ve been around for 10 years, we’re still a venue that’s growing and solidifying ourselves in the sports bar niche in New York City,” says Sheldon Robinson, GM of the lounge and sports bar.
Although the clientele doesn’t normally follow horse racing, Robinson saw a need to promote the event. “From my perception of the event itself, I’ve seen how much it has grown over the years.” Therefore, they decided to partner with Armand de Brignac "Ace of Spades" Brut Champagne for the promotion which included a contest for most decorative hat; the winner won a bottle of the Champagne.
They also offered an open bar for three hours, which was also sponsored by Ace of Spades. With the hat promotion and the Champagne, the Kentucky Derby promotion catered to a growing demographic of sports fans and a coveted demographic—women.
“The design of our sports bar itself lends itself to women and men; it’s comfortable for both,” Robinson adds. “We had 150 people watching the Derby,” he says “We anticipate growing and becoming the premier Kentucky Derby party in New York City.”
The unique sports promotions encourage fans to stop by but the array of primetime sports action is what keeps them coming back to the 40/40 Club. The New York sports bar features New York teams and sports but will also feature big games, like the NBA finals or the Super Bowl. Even big soccer games get primetime position at the 40/40 Club. “We have every package you can possibly have,” Robinson says. Everything from horse racing to water polo matches. If someone wants to watch it, the 40/40 Club has it.
In addition, with Jay-Z as an owner, “we have a lot of celebrity draw,” Robinson said. “We can throw a certain party tailored to a sporting event.” For these events they focus on their five different private rooms that cater to all types of sports fans. Accommodating 20 to 80 guests, fans rent the room to watch their favorite sports team and only have to pay for food and drink.
This means guests can pick and choose the games that are important. During college football season, Robinson says alumni from the University of Maryland or University of Florida come in and rent a private room. “That’s a huge drawing point and gives us leverage,” he said, allowing the 40/40 Club team to focus on two to three big events happening at once.
Sports bars struggle to compete with other sports, which is why Robinson focuses on unique promotions and solid partnerships to keep attracting new business to the 40/40 Club. But the atmosphere helps, too. “The key for us is the food quality,” he says. “Our menu is designed by Jay-Z’s executive chef.”
The club also has a 480-foot screen that is suspended above the bar; stadium style seating that has four different rows of seating to get the best view of the game, as well as state of the art audio/visual capabilities. “A lot of things separate us from other sports bar,” he says.
The lounge seating and comfortable banquettes were part of Jay-Z’s overall goal, Robinson said, to “create a sports bar that’s conducive to his lifestyle, and that’s what you get. It’s warm and inviting, and you get all of that at once.”
The one thing about the 40/40 Club is they’re not just sports bar; they’re a lounge, restaurant and club. We serve great food, which separates us from other sports bars, and we wear many hats,” he says. “It feels like you’re watching the game at home, when you’re not home.”