Photo by CARRIE WISE // Buy this photo
The making of a sports bar
Before and after at Bokamper's in Naples
If you go
Bokamper’s Sports Bar and Grill
8990 Fontana Del Sol Way
Hours: 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. every day
Atmosphere: Sports reign with memorabilia on the walls and games on the more than 60 television screens scattered inside and out. Inside the restaurant, there is a family dining area away from the bar featuring a game room; the main dining area is carpeted and has a fireplace; and the bar includes high-top tables for dining. The outdoor patio has its own bar and tables overlooking water.
Beverages: Soft drinks are $2.39 with unlimited refills. Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and drink specials include well drinks for $2.75, domestic drafts for $2.50 and house wines for $3.50. There are 12 beers on tap and after happy hour the 16-ounce drafts range from $2.99 to $4.50.
Prices: Appetizers include pork sliders, chicken fingers and calamari and range in price from $6.99- $9.99. Bo's Killer B Wings come 11 different ways and start at $8.99 for 10 and go up to $67.99 for 100. Sandwiches, wraps and burgers start at $7.99 and go to market price for dolphin. Entrees start at $8.99 for pasta and peak at $18.99 for filet mignon. Desserts are all $5 and include key lime pie, chocolate cake and traditional cheesecake.
It’s game time at Bokamper’s Sports Bar and Grill.
The beers are cold and the grill is hot. The televisions are on, despite technical difficulties during the first couple of nights of business, and customers, sporting a crayon box of different jerseys, have filled the seats ready to witness the action.
Two months ago there was glue on the floor from torn-up tile and tape on the walls to mark where the 60-plus televisions were to go. About $3.5 million later, what was formerly home to two steakhouses, the Keg Steakhouse and Bar and Sanibel Steakhouse, at Fontana Del Sol Way in North Naples was transformed into a sports bar.
“Our main concern is when somebody walks into Bokamper’s are they gonna have the atmosphere they want,” said Kim “Bo” Bokamper, one of the owners and a former linebacker and defensive end for the Miami Dolphins. “If we have got to spend a little extra to do that, we’ll do that.”
Televisions are a big part of the experience for the 300-seat restaurant.
“We’re not going to hang four TVs on the wall and call ourselves a sports bar. You will know when you walk in the building that we are a sports bar,” said Bokamper.
The cords to send power and cable to dozens of televisions had to be untangled. Electricians had to send power outside by running wire underneath what is now the newly constructed outside bar. This was all part of the plan to get customers close to their games.
“I’m a fan at heart,” Bokamper said. “We’ve kind of put together places where I’d like to be and I’d like to go and watch.”
They plan to add more TVs still and play fight songs on commercial breaks to add to the audio experience. That’s what the management thinks will set them apart from all the other bars and restaurants in town.
“We have eight different sound zones,” said manager Bill Resnik. “We’re capable of showing 16 different sporting events at the same time.”
Just because Bokamper was a football player doesn’t mean they won’t play golf tournaments, the World Series or any other sporting event.
“We’re not only appealing to that football fan,” Resnik said. “We’ll be appealing to that soccer fan, the rugby fan and all other sports. Anything that’s on television.”
It wouldn’t be a sports bar without beer and chicken wings, and the menu offers a variety of those standards as well as salads, flatbreads and entrees.
“I think with our menu we’re about quality food,” Bokamper said. “We’re about good service. We’re about consistent food.”
The staff is also a big part of the team, and it was competitive to get a position here. About 1,000 people applied for about 150 jobs, coming from as far as Orlando, which was a humbling sign of the times for management.
“I had mixed emotions with so many people needing work,” Resnik said. “One part of me was thrilled to have all these people come in, and the other part of me was a little sad to see so many people looking for work in the area.”
Delays were the biggest challenge they faced renovating this restaurant, and finding enough storage space was tough once they were ready to open, which couldn’t be sorted out until the rooms were settled, Resnik said.
The building didn’t require a lot of physical work, but management still needed to juggle the permitting processes, contractors and training the staff before they could open.
“They take time, you don’t get things done in a day,” Bokamper said.
In the back of his mind, Bokamper has some concern that the two previous steakhouses failed in this location, but he doesn’t let that feeling linger.
“We feel good about our concept and pricing, which is totally different than what was in there,” Bokamper.
This is not the first Bokamper’s. The original location opened two years ago in Plantation and provided much of the foundation for opening this sports bar, including a lesson learned from the first opening.
“We had a pretty big response,” said Bokamper. “We had trouble in the kitchen processing orders,” said Bokamper.
In order not to make the same mistake twice they brought in experienced managers and a chef from Plantation to be prepared for the Naples opening. Having that experience under his belt, Bokamper said he felt a little more confident about welcoming guests to the new location.
“We as owners absolutely love it,” said Bokamper. “I think it turned out as well as we could have expected, maybe even better,” said Bokamper.