Whenever we hear about sports bars, we tend to envision testosterone-heavy dens where the beer flows freely, burly fellows jeer and swear at a television screen whenever games are on, and any woman unlucky enough to be on the premises is bound to get catcalled and subjected to sexual harassment.
But a sports bar in Portland, OR, is changing the game: serving as a safe space where women can enjoy women’s sports with their friends or even on their own. This is Jenny Nguyen’s Sports Bra, and it is changing the game for the restaurant and bar scene.
How Did This Come About?
Back in 2018, Nguyen found herself frustrated by how most sports bars never seemed to air women’s sports (live or recorded) and were certainly more than hostile to any female patrons.
A chef by profession, Nguyen had no plans to get into the sports bar business herself and was tabula rasa about what was necessary for owning and running a bar. But in 2021, she sought financing from traditional lenders and the Small Business Administration – a move that was seen as foolhardy given how many restaurants and bars were shuttered for good because of the pandemic. Likewise, Nguyen’s own lack of experience and the novelty of opening a sports bar that was specifically for women made potential investors shy away from the notion.
Undeterred, the chef launched a Kickstarter campaign intending to muster $48,000 to make her plan a reality. She ended up raising $105,135, allowing her to open the Sports Bra in April of this year.
The Bra Today
Today, Nguyen’s venture is thriving. Her staff has grown to 20 members – and it’s a place where people feel safe. The Bra, as patrons fondly refer to it, has a strong family-friendly vibe. Children are allowed on the premises until ten in the evening. The monitors positioned throughout the dining space air live coverage of women’s professional leagues for basketball and other sports. Outside of any sporting season, the monitors run recorded games from content partners that exclusively cover the women’s sporting scene.
Likewise, the drinks poured from the 21 rotating taps at the bar were all sourced from and produced by breweries headed by women. It includes eighteen different beers, two types of cider, and even kombucha for ladies who want a healthier mug to quaff as they cheer their heroines on.