The owners of Bounce Sporting Club wish they were open last year in Chicago when the Cubs broke the team’s 108-season World Series drought. The N.Y. import specializes in big games, allowing customers to enjoy a hip, upscale experience in a hybrid sports bar/nightclub that attracts professional athletes, DJs, and socialites. Bounce is coming to Chicago and is targeting a November 30 opening date in River North at the former Parliament night club space at 324 W. Chicago Avenue.
Co-owners Yosi Benvenisti and Cole Bernard opened the first Bounce in 2011 in Manhattan and have formed a company, BrandIt Hospitality. Every night at Bounce features different programming. Saturdays are big college football days — Bounce hopes to draw Big 10 alums. Another night may feature a popular DJ, band, or hip-hop artist. Bounce’s fingers are crossed that Chance The Rapper may take a liking to the atmosphere. Chance would give Bounce some local cred. Most out-of-town groups depend on a local operator to help understand the market. For Bounce, they’re leaning on Matt Deichl. He ran local clubs Parliament, Enclave, and Cuvée.
River North is popular for bottle-service and dancing, so no new bar can be solely about flat screens and jalapeño poppers. Bounce knows that. The bar food is familiar, but not all defrosted and processed. They may bring a marching band to perform during halftime of a Bears game — something they’ve done in New York during a Giants game watch. They may bring in a dancing robot that’s lit up with LED. Sometimes they’ll have aerialists and other performers.
“Our programming — it’s something a little bit more edgy, a little bit more trendy, I’d say,” Benvenisti said.
The space is 4,500 square feet with a 1,500-square-foot rooftop bar. There will be 143 seats with 29 flat screens. This appears to be the first Chicago project for designer Garrett Singer.
In New York, Bounce is reservations only, but they’re not sure what policy they’ll employ in Chicago. Bernard talked about how professional athletes, like NBA star James Harden, feel comfortable at Bounce. It’s a place Harden can let his beard down and have fun without being over-scrutinized or ending up as fodder for TMZ. Bernard thinks Chicago’s athletes will also see Bounce has a haven. Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara knows about Bounce from his time as a New York Giant.
“A lot of athletes — even your bankers and your Wall Street guys — they treat Bounce like a modern-day Cheers,” Bernard said.
Benvenisti is getting used to Chicago and is moving to the city. He’ll still need some time to get used to some traditions.
“In New York, the Mets fans hate the Yankees fans,” said Benvenisti, a Yankee fan. “But Yankee fans don’t hate the Met fans. I think it’s relative to Chicago when the White Sox fans may not like the Cubs fans, but the Cubs fans don’t mind the White Sox fans?”
Just don’t put any ketchup on those hot dogs. Bounce will give try to give Chicago a sophisticated take on a sports bar starting in November.