The Talk of New York and Los Angeles Arrives on Wilton Drive

Grand Opening Day is Friday, August 14

Hotspots Exclusive Interview

Gay sports fans and partygoers from coast to coast love GYM SPORTSBAR. Their first location, in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, has thrived for many years, and their second location, in GYMSportsBar_logoWest Hollywood, has enjoyed similar success. Now the people in charge of GYM SPORTSBAR are ready to open their doors to the gay community in South Florida.

Mark Friday, August 14 down on your calendar, because at 6 p.m., GYM SPORTSBAR will open their first South Florida location at 2287 Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors. People can expect many food and drink specials throughout the opening weekend, as well as some fun secret giveaways. The only way to find out what’s in store is to stop by!

I spoke with GYM SPORTSBAR own Rick Schmutzler about his coast-to-coast success and what South GYMSportsBar_RickSchmutzlerFlorida crowds can expect from Wilton Drive’s latest nightlife offering in this exclusive Hotspots interview.

Why did you decide on Fort Lauderdale for GYM SPORTSBAR’s next expansion?

I’ve been working in the Fort Lauderdale market for quite a while. It has all the things that I look for when I’m looking for a location. Fort Lauderdale has a great LGBT community, great foot traffic, lots of visitors, and a great sports community. I’ve found that the sports community there is out there but also untouched in many respects. Plus, it’s Fort Lauderdale…it was not exactly a hard choice to open a bar in a beautiful area like this.

Tell us a little bit about GYM SPORTSBAR, for people who may not be familiar with it. What can people expect down here in South Florida?

What people can expect from us is that we’re a classic sports bar…just a gay one. We have lots of large-screen high-definition TVs for people to watch games on. I really love the space that we’ve found in Fort Lauderdale. We’re on a corner on Wilton Drive, and there are very big windows, so we can open things up and the space feels very light and airy. It makes the space feel very welcoming.

We also have a full kitchen so we’re preparing a pub menu. You can get some beers, order some food, and chill out with your friends. We really strive to offer a great customer experience…our staff and our friendly service are our hallmarks and these are things that the New York and Los Angeles communities already love about us.

Have you brought down a lot of your staff from New York to get things going?GYMSportsBar_Copy

For the most part we’ve hired a completely new staff for South Florida, but one of our managers had been involved in the bar industry for the past ten years in New York, and he wanted a change, so he’s coming down here.

Have you reached out to partner with our gay sports leagues and our professional sports teams yet?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. We’ve been more focused on getting everything ready with the new location and doing everything right, so we haven’t had a lot of time to reach out yet. We’ve had great experiences reaching out with our other locations: we partnered with the L.A. Dodgers to promote the “fan day out” in our Los Angeles location. They threw a couple of “Dodger Parties” in the bar. They were really fun to work with and we were delighted. In New York we’ve partnered with the Mets and the Liberty, which is the WNBA team there. I’m looking forward to seeing what the market holds in South Florida.

Was it a difficult process to get the bar ready for opening?

The time we actually spent, from deciding for sure that we were going to open a location down here, to now, was about seven months. We identified a place we wanted, found it was available, and from there we started the opening process. There are so many aspects to opening any small business, let alone a bar or restaurant. You have to make sure your permits and licenses are approved and all your ducks are in a row…it’s a lot. [laughs] And then you have to stay within your budget! It’s like herding cats, but I mean that in the best possible way. I enjoy all of this work; it’s really rewarding and a lot of fun.

What would you say to people to ensure that they check out GYM SPORTSBAR?

I would say that the thing we really strive to showcase is that the bar reflects the community. That’s very important to us. Now you’d think that a “sports bar” would be niche, but we want to offer the same great, welcoming experience to someone who loves sports and comes in to watch sports as we would to someone who just wants to enjoy a good beer. We want everyone to come in and have a really great time.

Hours of operation for GYM SPORTSBAR Fort Lauderdale will be 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. from Monday through Friday, and 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays to start out. For more information about GYM SPORTSBAR, visit gymsportsbar.com or “like” them on Facebook at facebook.com/gymsportsbarfortlauderdale.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.