Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill

Food, Fun, and Football: Premium Dining for Every Sports Fan

The name Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill has a new meaning. No longer do Canadians identify the term with the legendary White Sox outfielder Joe Jackson and the infamous ‘Black Sox Scandal’. They’re thinking of cold drinks and good food! Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill Sports Grill, an Ontario-based premium sports grill restaurant group, is gaining nation-wide attention. Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill offers the comfortable atmosphere and great dining experience every sports fan craves, scandal-free.

The first Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill restaurant opened in 1985 in Toronto, Ontario. The Eglinton Street location operated quietly, initially serving the local community as a sports bar. Yet entrepreneurial investor Fred Lopreiato recognized the brand’s potential, purchasing it within its early years of operation.

Following his signature motto, “persistence is the mother of all skills,” Lopreiato pushed the business to succeed. His efforts worked. Sports fans flocked to his restaurant. Within a few years, Lopreiato decided to expand. Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill locations, then owned and run solely by the brand, sprung up across the Greater Toronto Area.
Lopreiato, realizing Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill potential for greater growth, decided to begin expanding through franchise. Focusing mainly on the Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario, Lopreiato began offering opportunities to willing and committed franchisers. The first franchised location opened in 1991.

Today, a quarter-century later, there are over 34 Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill locations across Ontario. The majority of these are franchises; however, the brand has recently begun developing flagship stores in key regions. Flagship locations offer an extra 3000 square feet more than their franchise counterparts. They are funded through investor partners.

When moving into major new areas, Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill will first install a flagship model. Then, they open the development of franchise model to the surrounding markets. This type of development approach provides Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill with a solid and secure development strategy. Ideally, ten percent of all Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill locations will follow the flagship model.

Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill Style

Those familiar with the Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill brand may have noticed some changes at their local restaurant lately. Over the past three years, Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill has redeveloped their image, transitioning from a local sports bar to a premium sports grill aesthetic. This change has been accompanied by the addition of several key players in the North American restaurateur industry.

In the past few years, Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill has taken on prominent figures such as K.B. Bose, George Hantziagelis, and Colleen Sun to assist in developing the new brand image and direction. The latest core member addition to the Shoeless Joe’s executive team, Danny Grammenopoulos, holds direct responsibility for real estate, and franchising.

“This team has been mandated to expand the brand,” explains Grammenopoulos, “We’re here to revive and change Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill concepts and designs for every viable element.”

In April, the Canadian Business Journal team decided to see these new ideas in action. Upon visiting the Courtney Park, Mississauga location, we were greeted by friendly staff, superior service, and top-notch food. On one thing we all agree – Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill is much more than a sports bar.

Unlike several of its peers, Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill focuses on creating a high-class atmosphere without charging high-priced rates for meals. The sleek mahogany and shining black counters partnered with the wide windows and large television screens will entice any sports fan (and their family) looking for an experience.
The culinary program has taken giant strides forward and now offers premium dining options including Prime Rib Burgers, North Atlantic Lobster and Truffle Aioli. It’s a huge step up from the typical sports bar fare.

The Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill championship management team has also brought in new initiatives, such as the Home Team Advantage (HTA) program. The HTA program allows local sports teams to ‘register’ with their neighborhood Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill. A percentage of every team’s food purchases is contributed to a pool fund which can be used towards a year-end team party… Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill also awards investments in the upkeep and expansion of sports facilities in regions with the highest HTA proliferation.

Part of Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill new concepts focus is on its internal operations. Online training modules are being made available to every employee, not just those at a management level. Staff culture building events like Iron Chef and Bartender challenges and contests are occurring company wide.
As put by Grammenopoulos, “We’re going down to the grassroots level of our company, and re-building from there.”

So What’s Next?

Don’t be surprised when a new Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill appears in your city! This company has big plans for expansion. In Ontario, Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill intends to intensify its presence in the Golden Horseshoe, while beginning to push into the outer eastern and western markets. The flagship Ottawa location would act as a hub for the east, Toronto for the west.

Resident’s outside of Ontario need not worry. Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill is currently offering development and franchise opportunities in areas of Saskatchewan and Newfoundland. The company recently secured a contact in Alberta for future expansion, and is in discussions to soon enter Manitoba and the rest of the Maritime Provinces. The Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill team hopes to build a strong presence across Canada by the end of 2014.