What if there were a bar to hang out on a Friday or Saturday night where everybody knew your name – and would remember it? A place where there is no pressure to drink and none of those awkward moments when you’re asked for the hundredth time why you aren’t drinking tonight. You can just be yourself, unapologetically, and have a good time without your battle with sobriety becoming the forefront of every conversation.
For Kyle Kuehn, this place is Lights Out, a sober bar that will be located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania coming Fall 2016. “Our goal is to help build up communities all over the country and help people experience freedom from addiction,” Kyle says about his budding venture. We were so excited to discover that sober bars were a thing, so we decided to track Kyle down and ask him more about it.
Thank you so much for chatting with us today! Tell us, how did you happen upon the initial idea for Lights Out?
The Idea for Lights Out came to me while watching the movie “The Fighter” with Mark Wahlberg. At this time in my life I was struggling with alcohol, and during the movie I thought “Hey, a late night boxing gym would help me stay off the sauce, and get in shape.” Over time I realized that boxing would be fun, but the real need I was hitting on was a place to socialize free from the temptations of drugs and alcohol late night. That’s when it changed from a boxing gym to a “Sober Bar.” So the name Lights Out has multiple meanings: 1) It referred to the boxing gym 2) It referred to the time at which we would operate [when the lights are out] 3) and it refers to Matthew 5:16 from the Bible. “Let your light shine before the world!”
We were so excited to find that there are sober bars like Lights Out, but were saddened when we realized there were so little options. Why do you think that is?
Well, I think that is primarily due to the profit margins. Alcohol is just so profitable, and that makes it tough to try and open a bar without those profit margins. This is a rather new concept, and I think once people start to realize they can have a blast without substances it’s really going to catch on and become popular.
“When the Lights go out, our Lights stay lit!” – Lights Out CEO/Founder Kyle Kuehn
Why a sober bar? What differentiates the concept of Lights Out from, say, an open-late cafe?
A cafe’s primary product is coffee. And although we will offer coffee, mocktails, and food; our primary product is entertainment and community. We want to emphasize on having fun with others in your community. Things like karaoke, open mic nights, Improv, Comedy, Speed dating, Dancing…all the fun activities that the bars have monopolized we want to offer to the community in a drug-free setting. Along with some new creative activities. And we plan on staying open much later than most late-night cafe’s. 2am on the weekdays, and 4am on the weekends.
How do you plan to ensure that drinking of any kind won’t be tolerated at (or around) Lights Out?
I have a little over 10 years of restaurant/bar experience. I can quickly identify an intoxicated patron, and the staff will be trained to do the same. The rules are simple: No visibly intoxicated persons allowed……EXCEPT on Friday and Saturday nights between the hours of 2am-4pm. Between 2am-4am on the weekends, we want to invite those that have been drinking to come sober up instead of driving. Instead of getting in their cars drunk and driving to get food. We want them to get food from us, sober up, and they will be greeted with taxi’s outside when we close at 4am. Lights Out wants to aid those in recovery by providing a safe space, while also helping in prevention by teaching youth to have fun substance free, and even helping those who are in the thick of the drinking lifestyle get home accident free and perhaps begin evaluating their drinking habits between 2am-4am on the weekend. That’s part of why Lights Out seeks to open in the center of the city.
Lancaster, PA, today. Where to next?
It’s my belief that every community can benefit from the a late night substance-free environment. Our goal is to help build up communities all over the country and help people experience freedom from addiction. My vision is that everywhere there is a Boys and Girls Club building up and caring for children, there will be a Lights Out doing the same for the adults in the community. I have received numerous emails and phone calls from people in different states asking how they can open up a Lights Out in their town. It’s extremely encouraging, I’ve heard from Denver CO, Seattle WA, Virginia, Florida, Australia. I think communities are realizing that it takes everyone to make the community better, and Lights Out will facilitate that. To answer the question, everywhere. We are going everywhere! Wherever there is a lack of light in the community. Wherever people are feeling hopeless. We will be a beacon of Light and Hope.
Website link for Lights Out: WWW.SOBERBARS.COM
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