Denver, CO

Sports on Tap at Tom's Watch Bar

Margaret Jackson

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Tom's Watch Bar opened at McGregor SquareMargaret Jackson/News Break

From Colorado Rockies baseball and Denver Broncos football to Russian face slapping and Inuit ear pulling, the newly opened Tom’s Watch Bar in McGregor Square offers a sport for everyone on its 115 screens.

The brainchild of cofounder Tom Ryan, the two-story, 14,000-square-foot bar and restaurant will show every sporting event you can imagine and is the official bar of the Colorado Rockies. An additional 4,000-square-foot patio has its own bar and screens for guests who prefer to sit outside.

The establishment’s mantra is “All sports, all the time,” cofounder Tom Ryan said.

“We’re seeing the phenomenon of more diversity in who watches sports,” Ryan said. “There’s pro and collegiate, but international sports has gone through the roof as has women’s sports.”

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Inuit ear pulling on one of the bars screensMargaret Jackson/News Break

The bar has 80 taps with 40 different draft selections — all available in a 40-ounce, two-handled stein. Craft cocktails can be ordered “Tom Sized” — cocktails that are 2 ½ size of a normal drink and cut back on trips to the bar.

Ryan, a food scientist who has bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in flavor and fragrance chemistry, created a menu with high-quality versions of traditional sports bar fare. Of course, you can get chicken wings, but at Tom’s Watch Bar, there are five varieties — Honey BBQ Wings, Buffalo Wings, Nashville Hot Wings, Korean BBQ Wings and Jamaican Jerk Wings. Ryan also has created a signature sauce flight that accompanies the french fries. And if you’re a fan of French dip, be sure to try Tom’s Famous Prime Rib Dip: shaved prime rib, havarti, horseradish cream, toasted bricoche roll with a side of demi-glace.

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Tom Ryan hoists a 40-ounce steinMargaret Jackson/News Break

The second level of Tom’s Watch Bar is home to the first-ever AC Golden Tank Room, which serves beer the way expert brewers intended it to be consumed. The beer is poured out of copper-clad tanks and features AC Golden’s flagship beers from Colorado Native, which pair perfectly with the food service for Tom’s Watch Bar.

“‘Drink like a brewer’ is our soundbite,” Ryan said.

The second floor also features Swing Suites powered by Topgolf — state-of-the-art simulator bays that offer customers the opportunity to play a variety of virtual games, including golf, hockey, baseball, football and Zombie Dodgeball. Tom’s plans to host golf leagues in the winter.

“It’s like being inside a video game,” Ryan said.

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Tom's Watch Bar Chief Financial Officer Daniel Holsey winds up for a pitch in a Topgolf Swing SuiteMargaret Jackson/News Break

Tom’s Watch Bar also is available for private events, and many parties already have booked it for the week of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game July 13 at Coors Field.

Despite the challenges many restaurants are facing with trying to bring staff back to work, Tom’s Watch Bar was able to hire 130 fully vaccinated employees without a problem — a feat Ryan attributes to the establishment being new and having such a big bar.

Ryan isn’t a chef and did not study restaurant management, but throughout his career, he’s been successful at bringing new concepts to established restaurants. He joined Pizza Hut in the late 1980s, launching products like breadsticks and stuffed-crust pizza. He joined McDonalds in the late 1990s where he was in charge of menu development and served as chief marketing officer and worldwide chief concept officer. During his seven years at McDonalds, he brought The Dollar Menu and McGriddles to the market.

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Plenty of outdoor screens ensure there's always sports for patrons to watchMargaret Jackson/News Break

In 2003, Ryan partnered with Rick Schaden to focus on new concepts and joined the Quiznos team as chief branding officer. In 2007, Ryan and Schaden created Smashburger, which Forbes has twice named as America’s Most Promising Company. In 2012, they opened Tom’s Urban, which became Tom’s Watch Bar.

There are six Tom’s Watch Bar locations across the country and a seventh is being planned for Minneapolis.

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I'm a Denver-based business writer with expertise in commercial and residential real estate as well as general business news.

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