By Terry Card
How is it possible to stay in business in Galveston with so many bars and restaurants? It is easy when you recognize that The Sound Bar is the only dedicated Karaoke bar in town. There are others that have a karaoke night here and there, but The Sound Bar is the only one that has karaoke every single night!
The Sound Bar opened on October 5th, 2016 and has become popular with its customers ever since the doors opened. The owner, John Timothy, was enthusiastic about the cooperation and reception given to him by the City of Galveston. Like many new entrepreneurs, he had to self-finance in order to get his operation going.
After being a bar manager for seven years at the Third Coast, it was a natural fit for John to start a bar business. From his time spent writing articles about Galveston nightlife for a local magazine and managing a bar, getting to know other bar managers and owners, he realized that the one bar Galveston did not have was a karaoke bar.
And it has proven to be a smart decision. It is very popular with a diverse group of people who are just out to have fun. As John says, “There are no tears in my bar.” What especially intrigues him is the degree of diversity. His customer base splits very evenly between tourists and locals and is also a 50/50 split between younger and older patrons. The only disparity occurs in the split between male and female. He can only put it down to his observation that women must like to sing more than men. The result is a 75/25 split of female customers to male customers.
The atmosphere is convivial when people sing and very non-judgmental. This induces not only people with great voices to stand on stage, but even gives those who were not blessed with wonderful voices to belt out the songs in their hearts and have a great time!
Located on the south side of Mechanic between 24th and 25th, the location really just happened for him. The building was not on the market, but knowing the type of bar he was trying to create and the space he would need to make it happen, he came to an agreement with the owner that if he would make the building available, John would renovate the space. And change it he did: rebuilding the back and side walls, putting on a new roof and a new ceiling, redoing all the plumbing and electrical, building the bar, and creating an outside patio. This was all before the decorating took place.
John wanted his bar to be Downtown. He loves Downtown Galveston. It is part of his life destination. An unrealized bonus was that the bar is located inside the gates for Dickens on The Strand and Mardi Gras. The revelers at these events, both locals and tourists, once they have paid to be inside the gates where all the parades and bands are performing, tend to wander from bar to bar and restaurant to restaurant during the full day and night as the events unfold. This brings new people to his venue, resulting in many repeat visits.
Also, the location is within easy walking distance of the Strand with all its bars, restaurants, and boutiques; and Postoffice, with its art galleries and coffee shops.
Not only does The Sound Bar have great karaoke shows, but as John puts it, “I am really lucky to have a rock star staff. They are comrades in arms.” A quick perusal of comments on Facebook and Yelp confirm the enthusiasm that customers have for the service they enjoy courtesy of his “rock stars.”
His customers also appreciate the effort he makes to keep his prices as low as possible. He serves draft beer including local craft beer from Galveston Island Brewery. Happy hour is from 4-8pm. The Sound Bar makes great use of its outdoor patio for people who want to smoke. The bar itself is non-smoking, so this accommodates all people wanting to have a night of fun.
Hosting parties and special events is a growing part of the business. He has the space and the layout to hold large gatherings, while still being able to serve other patrons and regulars who are not part of the event. The bar is very clean, and karaoke is a great attraction, providing entertainment both during and after the party or special event. In the last short while, he has hosted a 50th Anniversary and a 70th Birthday party, all the while his younger crowd enjoyed a regular night, intermingling with the older crowd, enjoying their special party. There is no charge for hosting special events, and The Sound Bar will provide food if requested, or the event organizers can supply their own.
Corporations are also beginning to recognize that this is a great venue for hosting events. Recent companies who have hosted parties here include MLSBC Carnival Cruise Lines and Verizon who hosted a sit down dinner from 6-8pm, after which the bar was opened for regular business. John said that 80% of his business is from 8pm-2am, so this one-off event did not interfere with his regular business.
John was born 36 years ago in Bastrop, Louisiana, which is located about 40 miles north of Monroe, Louisiana. He left when he was only three, moving to Texas with his family who worked in the oil business. Like many, he accidently found his calling while putting himself through college working as a bartender. He took to the life and has never looked back.
The opening of The Sound Bar is the fulfillment of his life-long dream. Karaoke allows John’s customers to enjoy themselves in a welcoming environment, and he couldn’t be happier!
The Sound Bar is located at 2411 Mechanic and is open daily, 4pm-2am. Karaoke starts everyday at 9pm. Happy Hour regularly is 4-8pm, but on Sunday Happy Hour is 2-6pm. For more info call (409)632-2168 or go to soundbartx.com.