Bar owner serves tipplers from near and far
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Bar owner serves tipplers from near and far
Author:xcd   Article source:  Hits:1001  Add time:2009-7-14  
ON a large world map hanging inside X-Ta-Sea Sports Bar and Restaurant in Shekou, pins have been placed by customers in almost every major city in 76 countries, representing where Bill Doubleday’s customers are from.
Given the difficulty of doing business in a foreign country, few expatriate businessmen have carved out a business that’s thrived as long as Doubleday’s. After founding it in June 2002, the 64-year-old from Chicago, Illinois, the United States, has expanded X-Ta-Sea several times. You could say that the bar has knocked down walls as patrons knocked back drinks.
At first, X-Ta-Sea was small, with only 14 bar stools. By initiating “happy hour,” lowering drink prices and ensuring hassle-free service, regular customers began to frequent the bar.
In August 2002, X-Ta-Sea acquired two small adjacent bars, knocked down the walls and put in a high-quality pool table to offer more entertainment.
In December of 2002, another bar was acquired, making room for a second pool table. The business continued to expand despite the SARS scare in March through June of 2003.
In September 2003, X-Ta-Sea expanded again with the addition of another neighboring bar. It allowed for occasional live music and dancing, as well as darts and hand football.
Yet another bar was acquired in October 2004. This time the extra room allowed for a complete interior redesign, including the addition of a shuffle board table, a kitchen and a formal stage for performers.
“My previous extensive business traveling exposed me to many of the best hotels, bars and restaurants in the world,” said Doubleday. “This lifted my expectations and standards for the way things can be done. I wanted to make it a special place for everyone here and sports became the theme.”
The walls are decorated with sports pictures, pennants from professional and college teams and sports jerseys donated by customers. In addition to darts, hand football and pool tables, which customers can use for free, there are three large-screen televisions and a projection screen broadcasting sports events around the clock.
“What I have tried to do with X-Ta-Sea is to do what makes me comfortable at a bar,” he said. “If I can make myself comfortable here, lots of other people will be comfortable too.”
In 2007, Doubleday moved the bar to a new location on the Minghua Ship at Sea World, and the relocation actually improved the business. There are now five 6-foot-wide projection TVs to provide a view from anywhere in the bar and live music four nights each week. Even in an economic downturn, he expects this year to be his most profitable, followed by last year.
“There has been a lot of good word of mouth,” Doubleday said. “Newcomers, regular visitors to Shenzhen and long-term residents know us and visit the bar often.”
But it was not easy to sustain such a business at the start. “It takes time to establish relations with government agencies,” he said. “People who feared new competition could bring you problems too.”
Now working more than 12 hours a day, seven days a week, Doubleday plans to retire next year after finding a competent manager for the bar.
“After retirement, I will travel all over North America to trout fish and play golf,” said Doubleday. “Many of my former customers came from the places I plan to visit. I will meet them when going there and look forward to many happy reunions.”
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