Top 5 Restaurant & Bar Market Integrators

These market-leading integrators talk system design, customer service, and the upswing of media in restaurants, bars and clubs.>

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If you want to ensure your future bar/restaurant installations go smoothly, here are some tips from the vertical market leaders.

John Lyons Systems in Hollywood, Calif., is in a unique situation: it was “born from a lifetime of experience in entertainment and nightlife.” Owner John Lyons has been involved in the nightlife business for years. He and his brother, Patrick, own the Lyons Group, an entertainment investment firm that as of June 2010 included more than 29 restaurants, lounges and bars in Boston.

The Lyons brothers would open a bar and install the audio, video, and lighting themselves. “People would come in and ask us who did the A/V because they wanted to hire them to do their bar,” John says. “When I told them I did it myself, they wouldn’t believe me. Eventually there was enough demand that I started a side company in 1990 called Moonlighting.”

Lyons says the world of high-end nightclubs is small, “everybody knows everybody. I don’t advertise or look for business. My entire business is based off referrals.” Lyons has worked with the Bellagio, City Center, Treasure Island, Steve Wynn and more.

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Phoenix, Ariz.-based AVDB Group also knows a thing or two about referrals. The Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, Calif., was going through a $27 million renovation, which included the Game Day Sports Bar. Due to previous work with the Sycuan Casino, AVDB Group won the bid for the sports bar and outfitted it with five 110-inch Holodisplays screens with Sanyo PCM 5500 projectors, seven Panasonic 65-inch displays, four Panasonic 50-inch displays, 18 Panasonic 42-inch displays, and four 26-inch displays.

Although installs for John Lyons Systems have ranged from $50,000 to $4 million to $5 million, one thing that always remains constant is the approach to system design. “While I am a nightclub owner, I’ve also been building A/V systems for a long time. I design systems from the point of an owner-operator,” Lyons says. “As a nightclub owner, I wouldn’t want to get gouged if I was buying a system. As the operator, I want to be comfortable using the system.

“I don’t want to be at home on a Saturday night and get a call from a panicked manager about a system being down. So I build systems with a redundant backup that protects the system in case something does go wrong. If one device goes out, it won’t prevent the club from opening up and getting a night out of the system.”


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Knoxville, Tenn.-based DFA Solutions also focuses on usability. Brent Midyett, VP of marketing and relationships, says the 10-person company has found success at sports bars that want that next level of control. “We’ve all been in bars where nobody knows how to change the channel on certain TVs. Or they hooked everything up themselves with DirecTV boxes.”

DFA is a Crestron dealer. Midyett says the in-depth Crestron graphical user interface (GUI) “makes it easy for whoever is working the bar that night  e bar doesn’t need that one person on every night who knows how to control everything,” says Midyett, who adds that DFA will put mailbox numbers on the bottom of TVs so the bar staff doesn’t need a map to figure out which TV is which.

Midyett says DFA often sets up its Crestron systems to automatically turn on/off TVs, lighting, etc. when restaurants/bar open or close. “Having to manually turn everything off gets old.”