World Cup Special: We visit the Wild Card in Sheffield – Bar & Kitchen

World Cup Special: We visit the Wild Card in Sheffield

A good welcome goes a very long way, says Jon Howson

Cool bars and independent coffee shops line Sheffield’s bustling Ecclesall Road, but few are as eye-catching as the huge, split-level Wildcard Bar and Grill. Describing itself as a ‘luxury sports bar’, the venue prides itself on offering premium service, Instagramready food and relaxed drinking. Sport, as General Manager Jon Hobson says, plays its part, but it’s not the main attraction. “Anyone can show sports on telly,” Jon says. “You have to keep your eyes on what it is you do differently to stand out.”

All day and all night

Huge video screens tower above a buzzy island bar while the mezzanine floor with cosy blue-leather booths offers more intimate dining options. Memorabilia fills glass-fronted display cabinets, and leather seating, gleaming brass and rose gold-edged tables give the space a clubby, upmarket feel. It’s a recipe that attracts parents and toddlers by day as much as it does friends out for an evening’s fun. And it’s a recipe they’re in no hurry to change, with the upcoming World Cup being a bonus, as Jon explains…

For us, it’s all about the experience

We don’t pack the venue out. Even when the Euros or UEFA were on, we wanted people to come in and really enjoy their experience. Think about how more people can alter your atmosphere. If people are eating at tables, do you want a crowd standing around close to them, just drinking?

If you're having a party, do it with style

It’s tempting to lower standards when you’re at your busiest. But that’s really when you should up your game. Because if you’re welcoming new customers, that’s the time to get your name out and show how important quality is to you.

Food is always why people will come back

Yes, during a big match, people will gravitate more towards hand-held food. Burgers, wings and American-inspired comfort food is great. But elevate it. It’s easy to do it wrong. But it’s just as easy to do it right: make your burgers to your own recipe and shout about them.

A good welcome goes a long way

On busy nights you’ll need to keep an eye on the door. But think ‘meeters and greeters’ rather than heavy-handed bouncers. Reputation is everything. Give people a warm welcome and it really sets the tone for the evening.

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