Skybokx 109 Takes Sports Pubs to Next Level

Mood Media, Bose work with owners to create unique experience for Bay State sports fans.

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Lou Carrier, president of Distinctive Hospitality Group, decided he wanted to make Skybokx 109 in Natick, Mass. “something fundamentally different than anything in this marketplace.” Many of the sports bars in the region, says Carrier, are examples of “the big difference between a fully integrated system and piecemeal projects.”

And, although Carrier was creating Skybokx 109 within the confines of an existing building, “we looked at this as a new build and we had the opportunity to do it right.”

Carrier called on Mood Media to do the job after previous experience with the team from Mood Media and Bose on a couple of his other local properties, The Verve and Hotel Indigo.

“He wanted (Skybokx 109) to be a high-end pub and needed it to have even, consistent, high-quality sound throughout the space,” says Mark Herron, director of audio/video systems design at Mood Media. “This is a sports pub, so it needed to have displays.”

The installation includes a Kramer matrix switcher, Crestron control system and point-of-sale controls for the audio and video systems throughout the restaurant, which also features a small stage where two- and three-piece bands play. In addition there is also a private dining area in Skybokx 109 with an optional separate AV system.

Among the highlights of the installation are Bose DS 100 speakers, Bose DS 12 speakers for foreground music and a PowerMatch amplifier.

Some of the smaller BrightSign displays on the walls around Skybokx 109, which play a rotation of Boston-themed sports clips showing some of the teams’ championship moments, fights and other notable occurrences, are surrounded by photos of Boston sports legends.

The displays use MBox, which is Mood’s digital signage player, and Mood updates the content over the network. Mood will soon be adding small digital signage screens in the lobby, bathrooms and at the hostess stand that will include marketing and promotional content as well.

“They wanted to make sure it has that Boston feel to it,” says Herron.

Keep It Moving!

Carrier put Mood Media through a tough schedule, says Herron, with the project going from inception to completion within 30 days. That meant a lot of nights and overtime for Herron’s crew.

“They were installing the bar as we were installing the displays,” says Herron. “It was all compacted together. It was a scheduling issue more than anything. It’s something you need to know up front so you can make the necessary accommodations. Labor costs more when you’re working later and that sort of thing. Everyone was aware we were on a tight schedule so they were open to the increased costs.

Throughout the compacted schedule, Herron and Bose major accounts manager Glenn Kalinowski had to make adjustments to appease Carrier and his seemingly endless tinkering and tweaking.

“You’re expecting that to happen,” says Herron. “Generally, concept wins out over price.” When Carrier decided he wanted more displays and a different configuration of the screens than the original plan, it meant Herron had to get a larger switcher.

Herron and Kalinowski ultimately talked Carrier out of his vision to install displays at the bar back-to-back without a truss, but only after they hung them according to his wishes and he decided he didn’t like it. When Mood was adding the truss, “there was alcohol in the bar and finished wood,” says Herron.

“These guys were in a position to prove me wrong and this was a sterling example of that,” says Carrier. “It’s about having confidence in people, so that’s why that level of collaboration is critical.”

Don’t be surprised to see Herron and Carrier working together again on another Skybokx in Boston in the near future.

“It’s always good to be able to work with a client and a manufacturer,” says Herron. “That’s why projects come out so well.”

Here’s a look at the finished product, along with talk about some of the food, from a recent episode of “Phantom Gourmet,” a Boston-based restaurant review show: