Saddle N Spurs Saloon
Address: 2333 N. Jones Boulevard, Suite 108, Las Vegas
Hours of operation: 24/7
Owned/operated by: Bob Kingston Productions Inc., locally owned by Melissa and Bobby Kingston
In business since: Nov. 1, 1984, and under current ownership since July 1, 2014
Describe your business.
We are a local, family-owned and -operated bar that offers gaming, food and reasonable drink prices. We have two pool tables, a Touchtunes jukebox, 15 high-definition TVs, including a 150-inch projection system for special events, and free Wi-Fi.
Football is a big deal to us, and we will soon be expanding into other sports, such as NASCAR. Our real niche, and where the real magic occurs, is with our licensed night club element, with live music every night.
We primarily stick to the “Americana” musical genres. I define that as real people, playing real instruments, about real life in America. This is characterized most completely in the classic country, new country, blues, classic rock and jazz stylings of music.
Who are your customers?
We have diverse patrons from all walks of life and skin tones. Retired folks come in during the day on weekdays. Blue- and white-collar working folks come in for our 3-7 p.m. daily happy hour. Bikers come in for our bike nights. Basically, down-to-earth American folks, with a few tourists looking for a honkytonk bar.
What is your business philosophy?
We strive to provide a down-to-earth bar with great service, reasonable costs, supportive regular customers and spectacular music with no cover charge.
There was a time when places like ours were practically on every street corner, but now only the best and most popular have survived.
Is it difficult to find musical acts?
Finding the acts to fill the roster is easy because few places today offer the opportunity at all, let alone every night. We are always looking for new talent. The cream eventually will rise to the top, and it is our goal to become the premier small, live-music club in the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Did business dictate that you expand your music lineup?
It is more of a personal decision than a business decision. I have been disappointed with the decline of live-music venues.
Instead of becoming a full-time musician at a young age, I waited until I was in my later 20s to get into it. My father, Jack Kingston, was a Canadian country music pioneer who is under consideration for induction in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. He steered me away from music as a career and encouraged me to pursue my engineering education.
I have worked hard and now am in a position to build something that challenges my business experience and fulfills my desire to support live music and perform myself.
What’s the most important part of your job?
The people — connecting with customers and making their experience the best it can be. Second is making sure the staff can carry the torch when owners are unable to be there. When you are open 24/7, you simply cannot be there for everyone all the time. Third is our entertainment, as we have to provide the best we can afford without compromise. After the people, it doesn’t matter so much because every place is just four walls with a bunch of technology inside it. Quality people serving quality customers always wins.
What is the hardest part about doing business in Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is a transient town with a lot of service industry workers just barely getting by, so they cannot afford to go out much. It is expensive and hard to market to the tourist element. We rely on a lot of word-of-mouth advertising, and with the turnover of folks through town, it can be frustrating building a consistent local following.
Coupled with this is the competition with any of the lounges that offer live entertainment, as the larger corporates generally don’t have cover charges and sell their drinks at a competitive rate because their core business is the casino floor and they can sustain the lounge to operate at a loss; we cannot. People get spoiled easily with cost and quality, while musicians get spoiled with casino lounge pay scales that small clubs simply cannot afford.
What is the best part about doing business here?
Las Vegas offers customers 24 hours a day and the ability for a small club like ours to pull revenue from gaming to subsidize food and beverage and help offset the lack of a cover charge.
Las Vegas has world-class musicians who often will play with acts on a part-time basis that we can book into our club. The average level of musicianship on any given weeknight can far exceed most every other city in North America. Many touring acts come through town, and we are starting to see some well-known musicians from those acts sit in with the bands we have. That helps build excitement and buzz for a small club.
What obstacles has your business overcome?
One of the biggest was performing a complete makeover without closing the bar and risking the regular customers going somewhere else.
Performing professionally over 20 years myself, I have learned how to make shows at our club more appealing and less cumbersome for bands by providing a quality back line of equipment that all the acts can use when they perform at our place.
How can Nevada improve its business climate?
As jurisdictional entities have become more tapped out financially, costs to small-business owners have increased during a time of depressed revenue. If the state were to make operating fees and licenses lower or adopt funding formulas based on revenue rather than flat fees, small businesses would become more financially secure and keep more people employed. I believe that when times get tougher, the easy fix is to levy the surviving businesses to the point of putting them under. When that happens, nobody wins.
What did you learn from the recession?
People have learned more about spending because they have had to. People don’t have the disposable incomes they once did and, if they do, they are more careful with what they do with it.
People always will want to socialize, so bars will always be there to provide that opportunity, but only the ones that offer the most value and amenities to the customer for their hard-earned dollar will survive. Successful businesses have learned this and are reinventing themselves to offer more.
Sometimes I catch my business mind questioning my passion. When I do, I remind myself that I am in this for the long haul and to make a difference in the community.