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Las Vegas cosplay bar plans to expand through franchising

Updated October 7, 2022 - 3:54 pm

A Las Vegas bar dedicated to comic book and sci-fi fans, cosplayers, nerds and everyone in between wants to take its concept to other states.

Millennium Fandom Bar in downtown Las Vegas is accepting bids to franchise its concept of a cocktail bar decorated with elements from pop and nerd culture with daily events like vampire-themed nights and a Yule Ball for Harry Potter fans.

Owner Alex Pusineri hopes of having one Millennium bar per city, starting in Phoenix.

Pusineri said he chose franchising as opposed to opening a second location in Las Vegas or elsewhere because of the type of bar he envisions it to be.

“Most people open two, three, four locations in the city,” Pusineri said. “But I think we saw after seven years in the city, it makes sense (to franchise) because it brings community. Fandom is for everybody, so why don’t we let them have it in their city. Let them have one per city.”

Bar leadership identified Phoenix as an ideal market because of its similarity and proximity to Las Vegas and its strong presence in the fandom world thanks to the annual pop culture convention Phoenix Fan Fusion.

Franchising, a business expansion methodology that doesn’t require the franchiser to own each location, is most common in the food and beverage industry because of the significant upfront capital needed to start a new location, said Leith Martin, executive director of UNLV’s Troesch Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

It’s more common for a business to build a few locations before franchising, but it’s not unusual to franchise off of one, he said.

“The other big thing is that you take locations and you put them in the hands of motivated owners because they have a stake in the location, as opposed to employees,” Martin said. “From a franchiser standpoint, it makes a lot of sense because of those reasons and the capital expenditures to expand all those locations.”

For a new Fandom Bar location, the franchise fee is $95,000, and a franchisee should expect to spend about $500,000 to $1.2 million to open a bar, according to its website.

Pusineri said he hopes the first franchisee will have bar and restaurant experience, but he would be OK with an investor who knows about fan culture. In fact, fandom is critical to a future business agreement, he said.

“You don’t open a sports bar if you don’t know anything about sports,” he said. “This is the stuff we need in life. You go to concerts to listen to the music with other fans and have that experience. Millennium is like that.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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