Sports! Sports! Sports! We sit down and chat it up with the owner of Champions Sports Bar, Art DeBaere.
Q. How did Champions Sports bar get started?
Art: I have always been an entrepreneur since I was 8 years old. I always enjoy helping and interacting with others, have been involved in sports my whole life, including playing ice hockey through college outside of Boston. I wanted to combine these elements into a sports bar themed tavern.
Q. What inspired you to create the first official sports bar in Downtown Kenosha?
Art: I was at the right place at the right time, put the business together quickly and made it happen
Q. What makes Champions stand out from other bars in the area?
Art: We open at 6am, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
Q. Why did you choose Downtown Kenosha for your bar?
Art: The downtown was growing and expanding, attracting a diverse variety of patrons
Q. What do you love about Downtown Kenosha?
Art: It changes daily, the growth, weather off the lake, the people we see and activities
Q. What is a typical day like for you as a bar owner?
Art: Always busy, dealing with day-to-day activities, vendors, patrons, Kenosha City Tavern League, local politicians, fellow bar owners, banking, etc
Q: What are some of Champions specialty drinks?
Art: We are basically your shot and beer corner bar, but we also have a nice mix of Long Island Teas.
Q. You recently decided to open up for third shifters at 6am, what went into that depiction?
Art: There was a need in the area for an early morning bar, and listening to our customer’s looking for a place to gather
Q. What can someone expect when they come by Champions Sports Bar for the first time?
Art: A friendly hello, engaging conversation or a quiet place to relax. The mix of patrons make Champions who we are on a daily basis.
Q. You are also on the current President of the Kenosha branch of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, can you tell our reader a little about what the Tavern League is all about and why it’s important to all establishments that serve alcohol?
Art: The Tavern League of Wisconsin founded in 1935 and exists to provide services to members that are not available to them as individuals and to use the collective strength of its membership to accomplish, as a group, goals that cannot be accomplished alone. The League provides its members with services such as legislative and governmental relations, legal information, educational services and promotes the industry on behalf of its membership. That is the Webster definition. At the local level, we help and support each other, teach and exchange ideas and thoughts. There are many proposals and ordinances coming down from the city government. We need to continue to have a seat at the table and offer our concerns and common goals
Q. What made you get involved with the Tavern League?
Art: I was looking to give back to the community, and feel very strong about the Tavern League of Wisconsin and how they help businesses and the local community across the state
Q. What is your favorite sport and favorite sports team?
Art: My favorite sport is ice hockey, with my teams of the Chicago White Sox, Bears, and University of Wisconsin
Q. What advice would you give other entrepreneurs that are trying to open up their own bar?
Art: Be genuine an sincere. Be responsible and adhere to the rules and laws in place
Q. What can you tell us about the great staff you have in place at Champions?
Art: We have a fantastic bar family that have been together for many years. Each being very unique and different in their own way. I love and appreciate each and every one of them
Q. Champions and Lucci’s Grand View have a nice working relationship as you both swap bartenders once in a while, How did this partnership form?
Art: I love having fun and doing crazy things. One night Sarah Lucci and I were talking about how her staff patronizes Champions as we return the favor. We thought it would be fun to swap staffs for a night and have some fun while working another establishment. Sometimes it’s not about the money, sales, or profits. It’s about being humble, giving back, helping others and having fun!!
Q. What’s next for you and the bar?
Art: We have been talking about adding food for many years, maybe finally tackle that project. Besides that, keep doing what works, giving people a safe place to hang out, offer a good value, and keep giving back to the community and helping others
I am extremely grateful and humble for the 12 years of Champion’s, the people I have met along the way, who I consider my good friends and family. Champion’s started out as a hobby for fun money, now has effected many lives and is a place where people gather and call their home as well. Thank you Kenosha!
Champions Sports Bar is located at 719 50th Street
Follow them on Facebook HERE for specials and more.
Don’t forget Champions Sports Bar is open daily at 6am
Edited by Jason Hedman
(This article first appeared in the Downtown Kenosha Magazine Vol.15 #2 – 2022)
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