NORMAN, OK— What do hardcore Oklahoma City football and basketball fans have in common?
Two high profile sports celebrity-themed restaurant/bar venues with AV systems designed and installed by Pro Presenters of Norman, OK, and featuring solutions from Contemporary Research. KD’s Southern Cuisine, a fine dining establishment, is loaded with features such as private dining rooms and stunning electric-glass walls. Wes Welker’s Sports Bar and Grill serves up wings, nachos, and chili cheese fries along with the action.
Both venues are managed by the Hal Smith Restaurant Group, which operates dozens of concept restaurants in Oklahoma and several other states. Pro Presenters has designed and installed AV systems for the hospitality group for three years.
At Wes Welker’s Sports Bar and Grill, so-named for the Oklahoma-bred Denver Broncos wide receiver and return specialist, the featured sport on the video displays is, naturally, football. Dining room patrons want and expect to be able to view all eight NFL games simultaneously.
“Our challenge was to create a stunning visual environment that looked and sounded spectacular but was ultra-simple to use,” said Pro Presenters owner Steve Patrick. “The restaurant owners wanted to concentrate on their menu and servicing their clientele. The AV equipment needs to work without them having to worry about it.”
Planning the daily video programming in this restaurant is as important as deciding on the daily menu specials. “Sit in any chair in the restaurant and without moving your head there will be at least eight TVs within view,” he added. “On NFL Sundays, the mission is simple: Ensure that all TVs are broadcasting different games thanks to the Sunday Ticket. For the remaining 347 days of the year the manager must analyze the sports offerings on multiple networks and plan his layout accordingly.”
The video setup includes eight Contemporary Research QMOD HD modulators distributing a combination of satellite and cable channels to the restaurant’s 33 flat-panel displays, ranging from 60-inch to 80-inch models. “The manager can roam the dining room floor and change any TV from any location simply by using the TV’s built-in tuner to access one of the QMOD modulators,” Patrick explained.The in-house video network is managed with a Crestron control system and an iPad. The sound system features QSC Acoustic Design series speakers driven by four Crown amplifiers.
In the sports bar and entertainment restaurant business, media is king and RF coax is the top choice for HD content distribution, said Doug Engstrom, vice president of communications and technical services for Contemporary Research. “Back in the analog days, video switchers were popular, but HD video routers, wiring, and custom control systems are extremely expensive. For RF, nothing’s really changed on the viewing side; flat-panel TV sets include an HD tuner, and the same coax that carried analog channels works for HD digital channels as well.”
Costs are dropping for channel origination, Engstrom noted. “New dual-channel modulators, the devices that create the channels from satellite receivers, and signage players have cut the per-channel cost almost in half. No additional wiring is needed to control the TVs.”
At KD’s Southern Cuisine, named for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s NBA player Kevin Durant, the emphasis is on ambiance and aesthetics, featuring menu offerings that range from $13 entrees up to an $89 Tomahawk rib eye. The owners wanted night-club quality, separate sound systems, with the ability to control volume, for three zones consisting of the main dining room, bar, and KD’s private lounge. In addition, a fourth zone included the patio area.
“With so much emphasis on rare-stone bar-tops, privacy glass, and award cases, there was really no room for speakers or subwoofers in an environment that ultimately required eight separate zones, presenting us with a challenge,” Patrick described. “Glass-paneled walls separate two private dining rooms from the main dining room. The glass panes are plugged into power, becoming clear when energized. When not energized, the glass becomes opaque, so if a room is rented out for a private party, it can be closed off in this way. These private rooms are separate zones; all three zones in the same room can receive separate audio, just separated by these panes of glass.”
The audio solution began with a Symetrix zone processor to route any one of six different sources to the eight different areas of the restaurant including the three main rooms plus two private dining rooms, patio, foyer, bathrooms, and kitchen. “The dining room’s main background speakers are 22 six-inch ceiling speakers and four eight-inch ceiling subwoofers,” he noted. “The dining room also includes a small performance stage which is powered by six JBL VRX array speakers. Three more JBL VRX speakers drive the DJ booth in KD’s private lounge. And the bar will shake the walls with its 12 Application Engineered (AE) Compact Series speakers and four 12-inch subwoofers all hidden above the ceiling or in the walls.”
For video, KD’s boasts 11 video displays of various sizes. “There was a need to provide a cost-effective distribution system from a variety of sources such as a cable box, computer generated image, or music videos,” Patrick explained. “And when the Thunder are playing live, customers expect to see and hear the game if they are sitting in KD’s restaurant.”
The solution includes six Contemporary Research QMOD HD modulators, one with a scaler for the computer-generated feed. With all the action of NBA basketball, with its fast motion left-to-right across the screen, the QMOD video reproduction is terrific and the devices perform flawlessly on game nights, he said.
The fact that the client delegates system design and installation decisions to his team represents a fabulous integrator/client relationship, Patrick said. “We give them the best price up front, every time, for every project. I want to be their one-stop shop, and this has instilled trust. We also maintain systems in three Toby Keith restaurants in Oklahoma for the same clients, with a new concept Toby Keith venue due to open this summer. The system will include equipment from Contemporary Research as well.”
In the Oklahoma region, every client is asking for bigger TVs—not the 50-inch TVs, he added. Everybody wants a nice sound and playback system, and thanks to the affordability of flat screens, they can save as in the past but with larger TVs.
“There’s no reason not to have HD on all in-house TVs in retail or restaurants. Whenever I see standard definition models in a venue, I know that’s an opportunity.”
Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer living in Boulder, CO.