The Royal isn’t your typical sports bar. The first indication is the doorman out front. And there’s not a jersey or neon beer sign to be found—just 43 LED screens situated among the clean, modern lines of a space that suggests a design hotel more than the ESPN Zone. Belly up to the bar and the place functions pretty much like any other place to catch a game, but if you want a table, bottle service is the thing here. There’s a $250 minimum to sit down at one of the front tables, and prices head north for the more private and exclusive ones in the back.
“We wanted a high-end but fun, cool sports bar,” says Stafford Schlitt, one of the owners, who also directs the Greenhouse and W.i.P. nightclubs in Soho. “Manhattan has other high-end sports bars, but we just didn’t think they cut it.”
For Schlitt and his partners, what puts their new, 300-person Union Square venue a cut above are a club-quality sound system with well-known DJs behind the decks, three different sound zones, a killer lighting scheme, and regular celebrity appearances (think John Legend, Kris Humphries, and Iman Shumpert). The venue offers celebrities and VIPs a private bathroom and a separate entrance.
Adding to the experience is a menu that sees classics of the genre, including chicken wings and nachos, rubbing elbows with more exotic fare, such as a warm, crispy fish bahn mi and miso-grilled eggplant, courtesy of Minetta Tavern alum Daniel Parilla.
For the Super Bowl, the Royal has booked DJ B-Roc of the hot downtown electronic duo the Knocks, as well as a surprise celebrity host.
“We want people to feel comfortable to come and just hang with their wife or girlfriend, but we also wanted to cater to the group of five guys who have been at a bank all week,” says Schlitt. “We have that happy medium.”