Small Business

Headshots video game bar finds a market in Wichita

Headshots Bar and Grill owner Ryan Revard provides patrons with video games to enhance their bar experience.  (March 26, 2019)
Headshots Bar and Grill owner Ryan Revard provides patrons with video games to enhance their bar experience. (March 26, 2019) The Wichita Eagle

Ryan Revard still remembers the challenges he faced opening Headshots video game bar, a process not unlike navigating a kind of business video game.

Despite having saved money for five years, Revard ran out two weeks before opening and had to put all his food and drink inventory on a credit card. He borrowed $50 from his aunt to be able to make change, the kitchen’s refrigeration system consisted of a dorm-size refrigerator and his staff figured bills by hand for the first couple of months.

“I said if people don’t want this, we’re going to close next week,” Revard recalls.

It turns out people did. Seven years later, Headshots has moved and doubled in size by keeping its focus squarely on what Revard calls the “nerd gamer culture,” which he is proudly part of.

“As soon as they come in, they know it’s for them immediately,” Revard said.

Headshots is a finalist in the 2019 Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Award for Tier II businesses, those with six to 20 employees. Headshots employs about 20 people. Other finalists in that category are Medical Provider Resources and National Screening Bureau.

Headshots features more than 1,000 video games, 500 board and card games and a full bar and kitchen serving what Revard calls “American style pub food,” from nachos and pizza to chicken strips, sandwiches and burgers. Headshots opens at 5 p.m., while the Table Top Java Shot inside it begins serving coffee, pastries and board games at 8 a.m.

Before opening Headshots, Revard attended Wichita State University and a bartending school while working for a local restaurant group and Best Buy. Headshots opened with room for about 120 people. In 2017, Revard moved it to its current location, which holds twice that many in about 7,000 square feet.

One option he offers customers is a $15 monthly “all-you-can game” pass. “I had 75 people signed up the first month,” he said. Day passes are $5.

There are about 50 TVs scattered about with gaming consoles hooked up to them, plus some stand-alone arcade games. Headshots hosts a Super Smash Bros. video game tournament every Friday.

“People want to find an environment where other people have the same interest,” Revard said. “Unsocial people become social people when put in the right environment. That’s the big thing Headshots does for people.”

And “social lubricant” – liquor – helps the process along while keeping Revard in business.

“I tell people rum and Cokes pay the bills. It’s still the beverage and hospitality business.”

Revard notes that a few TVs may be tuned to sporting events instead of video games.

“We don’t just get nerds. We get everybody.”

Revard said his core customer is probably a male in his late 20s to mid 30s but added, “Everybody plays games, or knows somebody who does. We’ve done a birthday party for a 10-year-old and a retirement party for a 60-year-old.”

Revard reaches out to the community by helping sponsor events such WSU’s Hippodrome production and Renaissance fairs. He takes employees on an outing each month — a microbrewery was this month’s destination — and buys them nonslip shoes.

“Half the staff is college students,” he said. “If it’s not fun, they’re not going to stick around.”

Headshots

Address: 2120 N. Woodlawn, Suite 324

Phone: 316-260-4370

Owner: Ryan Revard

Website: headshotsbar.com

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