After a year of operations, the Last Shot Bar in Chalan Kanoa beside the Surfrider Resort Hotel remains a laidback bar that will always be a welcoming place to anyone who just wants to enjoy a drink or two, share a conversation and, if you are game, play a round of darts, billiards, or other games that remind you there is always time to play.
Last Shot Bar turned 1 last April 23 and the journey has been surreal, according to owner Travis Jones.
“After one year of being open here on Saipan, I would say that one of the most insightful things that others could learn from my experience is that this has to be a labor of love and that it is definitely not about the money. Of course, we need the money to come in to stay open but we have to be passionate about what and why we do things the way we do and that happy customers are our best form of advertisement,” he said.
He said that Last Shot Bar celebrated its first anniversary by inviting the public to enjoy Happy Hour pricing and enjoy the music of Marvin De Leon Guerrero from 9pm to midnight. An estimated 90 to 100 people attended the occasion.
Jones has worked as a contractor in different parts of the world and has always dreamed of retiring on a beautiful island and operating a bar where everybody can just relax and unwind. “…I have been asked many times how I work my full-time day job and spend as much time after hours and weekends working at the bar and my answer to them always is, ‘I must really love this place!’” he said.
Jones came to Saipan two years ago and has turned his dream into the Last Shot Bar. “I have no intention of leaving Saipan as I love this island and all of its residents that truly have become an extended family that I was not expecting at all. …My commitment to this community remains the same as when we first opened our door, which was to provide a clean, safe atmosphere where virtually anyone can come in and feel like they belong there as part of our extended family.”
Jones believes that one of the biggest things that keeps his customers coming back—even through the pandemic—is Last Shot Bar’s 100% open air concept. That’s on top of its two dart boards, two pool tables, two outdoor shuffleboard courts, cornhole, and an oversized Jenga.
“We are also working on the drink pong table and are waiting for the arrival of an oversized Kinect 4. Our idea of no TVs to keep our customers active and playing our many games has proven to be very effective,” he added.
He said they are also working with local distributors on new events and is starting back up with bands and working on open mic nights “where any up and coming musicians can come in and play whenever they would like.”
Opening right at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was a calculated risk, according to Jones. “I figured if we could survive whatever this actually turned out to be, we could survive anything. Our business was reasonably steady from April through October, then was hit very hard with the big push to limit hours again right before Halloween. Business fell by roughly 30% to 40%. We were having bands every one to two weeks but had to stop that once our crowds slowed to the point we could no longer justify the cost of the bands,” he said.
Once the travel and local restrictions were lifted, Jones said it was like the floodgates opened up. “We are seeing our party bookings steadily rise and new customers coming to the bar at least weekly, if not daily. Our sales are continuing to rise monthly, along with our team’s overall excitement of watching this business finally take flight,” he added.
Last Shot Bar accepts both public and private parties. His suggestion to customers: For a party of 30 people or fewer, keep the bar open to the public to keep your party costs as low as possible.
“We let parties of 50 or more know that if they want to shut the bar for a private affair, we are happy to do so from 5pm to 10pm, with a minimum bar tab as the cost of the event space.”
So far, their largest event to date has been roughly 100 people “but our occupancy is now at 200 people. Our thought is that we can certainly handle parties of 150 fairly comfortably,” Jones said.
“Not having food was a decision I had made early on and I still stand by today. Our customers have come to enjoy being able to either bring in whatever they would like or order from one of the several restaurants that surround us. We are very happy when other local restaurants are also able to gain business from our customers,” Jones added.
After a year, comments from old and new customers still surprises Jones. “I think the most memorable comments are the new customers entering the bar for the first time. Most are generally in shock to see our over 6,000 square foot facility so brightly painted, with several activities in sight
“We wouldn’t be here unless you enjoy being here with us. We have a huge amount of pride that local customers of all ages have decided to make our southside Last Shot Bar their bar of choice. We remain committed to our locals by keeping our prices competitive and supporting in many other ways. Last Shot Bar is happy to be sponsoring six dart teams and three pool teams this upcoming season. My message to our staff is the same as it always has been: Work hard, have fun, and treat this place like it is your own because someday it may very well be that!”
Last Shot Bar is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm to 2am, but starting June, operations will be Monday to Saturday, from 5pm to 2am. For more information, call (670)588-SHOT (7468).