A Portland bar puts female athletes and fans first
Much like the article of clothing for which it’s named, The Sports Bra was created out of necessity. “There was no place for me and my friends to watch women’s sports,” says owner Jenny Nguyen, who, after years of working at various restaurants and corporate kitchens, decided to remedy the problem by creating her own place in her hometown of Portland, Oregon.
At first glance, The Sports Bra, which opened its doors this past April in an off-the-tourist-track stretch of Northeast Portland, looks like most any other sports bar: There’s a wood bar where customers sip beers, the kitchen churns out burgers and tots, and the walls are decked with trophies, jerseys, and televisions tuned to various sporting events. It all feels very normal—except for one key detail. “It’s definitely a sports bar,” Nguyen says, “but then you look closely, and you’re surrounded by female athletes and women on TV.”
In fact, The Sports Bra bills itself as the world’s first sports bar that shows only women’s sports. “It’s so nice to go somewhere and not have to beg the bartender to change the channel to a Thorns game,” says bar patron Kristin Sunderland, referring to Portland’s National Women’s Soccer League team. On top of that, Nguyen keeps the bar open to all ages until 10 p.m., to help increase local kids’ exposure to professional women’s sports. “That way,” she says, “young girls can see what they can be.”
The offerings on TV aren’t all that’s woman-centric here. While the menu consists largely of standard bar fare, Nguyen works primarily with local purveyors—from butchers to brewers—that are owned or operated by women. “We have 21 taps,” she says, “and everything on the list is either made by a woman or has a woman in operations or management.”
For those looking to share good company this month while watching Alex Morgan score goals for San Diego Wave FC or Sue Bird get buckets in her final season with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, the Pacific Northwest is still the place to be. Nguyen, however, has already seen enough of a response for her to at least cautiously consider expanding. “The place,” she says, “really resonates with people.”