Kappa Bar acquires Meltdown Bars, forms world’s largest esports bar chain

Swedish esports bar and restaurant franchise Kappa Bar has acquired French esports bar chain Meltdown Bars, merging the two businesses into Kappa Meltdown Group.

The acquisition, which was completed on March 15th, sees the group become the largest esports-focused bar franchise in the world, with 28 locations across seven countries.

Kappa Meltdown Group
Image credit: Kappa Meltdown Group

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According to a release, the group’s operations in the Nordic region will retain the Kappa Bar identity while current and future international locations will feature Meltdown Bars’ branding. The group announced plans to open 100 venues by 2027.

Specific figures of the transaction were not disclosed. According to Swedish business outlet BreakIt, the details of the deal involved an ‘eight-figure amount’ paid in cash and shares in the newly formed Kappa Meltdown Group.

Robert Dragovic, CEO of Kappa Bar, will become the group’s President, whereas Sophia Metz, CEO of Meltdown Bars, will continue as the group’s CEO internationally.

“Sophia Metz adds international experience, a unique industry network, and a strong model for international expansion,” commented Dragovic. “We at Kappa Bar come in with great expertise regarding conceptualisation and unmatched ability to diversify sources of income. Together, we look to create business synergies in every way possible.

Rounding out the operation is Swedish-based content and branding studio Pixel & Poly, run by CEO & Partner Sia Talebi and partly owned by Kappa Meltdown Group. The studio was founded in 2021 as an in-house communication and marketing company for Kappa Bar and its franchises.

”I am really excited about the acquisition of Meltdown and working to develop the branding and content strategies of the companies.” Talebi told Esports Insider. “It brings me great joy to be a part of the esport/gaming scene as I’m an avid esport-fanatic.”

Outside of its Kappa Meltdown Group creative efforts, the studio provides services for the likes of Live Nation, Mister French Group and LVMH.

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Kappa Bar was founded as a basement bar in 2016 in Gothenburg, Sweden and has since expanded its franchise model to 8 locations across the country. In a 2016 report by local outlet, Gothenburg Post, the bar founders suggested that Meltdown’s expansionary success indicated that demand for the venue and service was high.

Kappa Bar’s partners include endemic esports brands such as DreamHack, ChallengerMode, BenQ, xtrfy and Noble Chairs as well as hospitality brands Diageo, Menigo and Spendrups.

“Meltdown’s journey has been amazing, and I’m incredibly proud of what we have created,” said Metz. “I knew I wanted new partners to take Meltdown further on the journey, and I especially appreciated Kappa Bar’s structure and long-term perspective.”

Metz’s Meltdown Bar was founded in 2012 in Paris, France, inspired by 2011’s Seattle-powered Barcraft movement. The company debuted its franchise model in 2013, making expansions across France, Belgium, Canada, England, Panama and Spain into 2019.

Meltdown Bars’ partners include Logitech, SecretLab, Samsung Gaming Monitor and Very Games.

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The group’s new ownership features Founder of United Esports, Felix LaHaye; former-Heroic Esports CEO, Erik Askered, and current-Heroic Esports Head of Partnerships & PR, Peter Strömberg; Twitch Co-Founder, Kevin Lin; and former-DreamHack owner, Tomas Lyckedal, among others.

Kappa Meltdown Group aren’t the only ones bringing esports and alcohol in the same room. Last year, Belgian multinational beer conglomerate AB-InBev debuted esports bar programme Cooldown in the UK, later collaborating with Pixel Bar in Leeds.

Esports Insider says: With Meltdown’s franchise expansion and Kappa Bar’s relationship with partners and the addition of an in-house content and branding agency, the merger certainly has the teeth to bite into the next market of their choosing. With countries’ hospitality sectors reawakening and lightening of covid-restrictions, a move toward expansion could be seen as a gamble, though likely one the group deems as worthwhile. 

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