That Sports Bar Unveils New Patio Space and Continues to Draw Locals
Writer / Rebecca Wood
Photographer / Jon Ellegood
Sports bars are known for attracting athletic-minded patrons. Typically, these venues draw crowds by broadcasting major sporting events for their customers. That Sports Bar in Lebanon offers such viewing, but it’s only one of the many attractions for locals to this watering hole and eatery.
For starters, the establishment’s location is notable. It sits in a historic train station off Lebanon’s Smith Road. This red-brick structure, with lantern lights and a cupola, provides vintage charm and beckons to a bygone area. The building’s age is unclear, but Owner Danielle Hoffman says the assumption is that this former depot hails from the early 1900s.
The interior decor takes a contemporary turn. Hoosier sports memorabilia adorns the walls, including a high school scoreboard, basketball jerseys, sports equipment and team flags. Hoffman says she wanted the bar to look “like a scrapbook,” so she reached out to locals to ask for donations of hometown sports relics.
Within the last year, Hoffman has shifted her focus to the bar’s exterior. On the first weekend in May, the bar opened brand-new stone patio space that includes a stage, bar and fire table. The area can seat more than 75 people and offers live entertainment on weekends. “I want this place to create memories,” Hoffman says. A grand-opening celebration for the new patio space is scheduled for June.
According to Hoffman, the food offerings set her business apart from other local establishments. “We’re the only bar in town that serves food,” Hoffman says. “And it’s not just bar food. We make so much more.”
Hoffman says That Sports Bar’s pizza is its claim to fame. She serves her mom’s pizza recipe, created with homemade dough and whole milk mozzarella cheese. “It’s not like any other pizza in town,” she says. The pizza is also served at Western Boone, Lebanon High School and Lebanon Leprechauns sporting events.
The food menu also includes burgers, tenderloins, salads and even a power bowl. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday mornings, with a menu filled with everything from steak and eggs to French toast.
In addition to the edibles, the bar holds weekly and annual events. Tuesdays include Singo, a version of bingo with song lyrics. Weekend entertainment consists of live performances by local bands, followed by late-night DJs and karaoke. That Sports Bar hosts an annual Saint Patrick’s Day party in March, and an adult prom in May. In June the bar participates in the local Summer Fest.
Hoffman says her main goal is to create an inviting, positive and inclusive environment. “I want everyone to feel welcome,” she says. “I want people to feel seen and that they are part of something.”
Hoffman’s entrepreneurial spirit emerged early. At the age of 16 she announced her intention to have her own business. At 21 Hoffman encouraged her mother to co-open a bar in their hometown of South Bend. The mother-daughter pair ran Cheers for seven years together.
Five years ago Hoffman and her husband moved from South Bend to Lebanon. The couple visited Stats, the former bar housed in That Sports Bar’s space, and Hoffman was smitten. “I turned to my husband and said, ‘This place is so cool and has so much potential,’” Hoffman says. “It was a great building with good space. I could see the area including a patio with a bar.”
When the space became available in 2019, Hoffman called her husband and announced they were buying the bar. Hoffman took over the space in January of 2019, and then spent several weeks refreshing the place and making the business her own. In February of 2019 Hoffman opened the doors to That Sports Bar.
One year after opening, COVID hit with its detrimental impact on the economy. “I was in tears and thought I would lose my business,” Hoffman says. “It was the scariest time.”
Hoffman worked tirelessly to keep the business afloat during the pandemic and personally delivered food to customers. She raves about how the community continued to support her business in the middle of a difficult season. Two years later, Hoffman says food sales are flourishing.
Hoffman hopes to continue to expand her business in the community. She hopes to offer a family-friendly restaurant in the future and has her eye on other business opportunities.
When asked about her hometown of Lebanon, Hoffman gushes. “This town is small but I love that we know everyone,” she says. “I like to talk to customers and get ideas. This town is like family.”
That Sports Bar is located at 100 Smith Street in Lebanon. For more information, call 765-481-2235 or visit thatsportsbar.com. Patio space can be reserved for special events.