In the fall of 1993, Keith Robinson (Founder and President of Side Pockets, Inc.) had sold his Bar & Grill located in Overland Park, Kansas and he was looking for a new venture. With the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) awareness program making a strong statement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages, he felt the time was right to open a sports bar / billiards parlor that would put more emphasis on indoor entertainment and less emphasis on drinking. He contacted his friend and pool-playing buddy, Richard Hawkins, and proposed a partnership.
This was a good "marriage" from the start. Each offered qualities the other lacked. Keith knew the bar business and was very adept at the kitchen and food side of the business.
Richard had the expertise to design the layout of the parlor and he knew the people who could put the color schemes and floor coverings in place. Both were good pool players and knew where to find the right equipment at the best price.
Opened in May of 1994, Side Pockets Restaurant, Bar & Billiards Parlor quickly became the "in” place in the Kansas City Metropolitan area for the pool enthusiast.
Their location in the Westchester Square Shopping Center at the corner of 87th Street and Pflumm in Lenexa, Kansas, was the perfect place to begin their operation. In fact, in the October 1994 issue of Billiards Digest Magazine, Side Pockets was named “One of the Top New Billiards Areas in America".
The ambiance is definitely what sets every Side Pockets apart with plenty of clean, level pool tables sitting on plush carpet with the proper lighting and just the right sound level on the juke box. Strategically placed TVs, (including Big Screens), electronic dart boards and several video games all add to the entertainment value. A full service pro shop with a complete line of custom cues, dart supplies and accessories is one of the hallmarks of Side Pockets. The menu offerings, and particularly the daily specials, are extremely good and priced very competitively. Each weekday lunch features a different food special and there is always a free hour of pool for everyone who dines with them between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
There is also a full service bar that can fulfill everyone’s needs, although servers and management monitor anyone who might want to indulge too much. Over-drinking is generally not a problem since it is very difficult to play pool or throw darts if one is a little tipsy.
Pool and Dart League play is promoted and emphasized at all Side Pockets’ locations and numerous teams compete on a weekly basis. These matches usually run Sunday through Thursday night beginning at 7:00 PM. Since most matches take approximately 4 hours to play, Side Pockets has become a destination point with built-in business 5 nights a week. The customers on Friday and Saturday night primarily comprise "date night" business, where couples enjoy the competitiveness of a good game in a safe and comfortable atmosphere.
The newest craze that is sweeping the nation is amateur Poker tournaments. Side Pockets has already become the leader in each market they serve primarily because of the size of their facilities and the number of people they can accommodate. Typically, 3 or 4 times per week, each unit will host an event. Each event has 2 sessions, one at 7:00 PM and the next at 10:00PM. The larger Side Pockets’ units will have over 100 players each session. This influx of customers obviously increases sales which adds to the bottom line in profits.
With the success of the 10,000 square foot Lenexa store, Keith and Richard decided in the Spring of 1997 to begin a new venture: Side Pockets Franchise Systems, Inc. In September of 1997 their first franchise opened in Kansas City, North. This store was much larger with higher ceilings, more pool tables and occupying 15,000 square feet. In May of 2003, a devastating tornado destroyed a large part of the building. But, four months later, the new expanded Side Pockets reopened with additional space that increased the size to over 18,000 square feet.
In January of 2001 the next location opened in Wichita, Kansas. This facility, occupying almost 14,000 square feet, quickly became the biggest and best in Wichita.
In the Fall of 2001, their next Side Pockets opened in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. This facility also occupies almost 16,000 square feet of space and has over 30 pool tables.
In November of 2004, Side Pockets entered the St. Louis market. Their store is located next to Bass Pro Shops at the 5th street exit in St. Charles, Missouri. Already on record pace, this new location is quickly becoming one of the largest volume units in the Side Pockets’ system.
In 2005 Blue Springs, Missouri opened its location with over 16,000 square feet and features 35 pool tables.
Because of their successful business savvy, Keith and Richard have had national publications write full-page articles expounding the success of Side Pockets. And, although franchising has brought them to this level, the emphasis now is in the future expansion plans which calls for opening 38 new corporate stores in underserved markets in the next 4 years.
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