28 August 2023 1045 words, 5 min. read

Boulebar: the café-restaurant champion of customer experience

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
Le Boulebar is a café-restaurant where you can play pétanque. The exceptional customer experience attracts crowds. Le Boulebar has opened 9 establishments in Sweden and Denmark, generating sales of €13.5m with 160 employees. A customer experience model we analyze in detail in this article.

At a time when physical retail is suffering, differentiation is essential to attract customers. This is what Boulebar, a bar-restaurant in Copenhagen, has understood. In this unique place, you can eat, drink, and play petanque indoors on one of the 16 lanes spread over 2 floors. A real success, as the establishment was full when I visited. This 100% physical location also proves that it’s still possible to succeed without digital by focusing on a unique customer experience.

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The Boulebar customer experience in brief

  • Proximityto petanque courts and tables: you can easily switch from your food to your petanque game
  • Indoors: all pétanque areas are indoors, which is important in Denmark, where it often rains.
  • Le Boulebar recreates an outdoor summer experienceindoors (green plants, bright colors).
  • Other customers have a view of the courtyards and become spectators: ideal for getting them in the mood to play.
  • Convivialityis at the heart of the customer experience: it’s all about having a good time and not letting time pass you by. The pétanque activity cements the bonds between the group and provides excuses for consumption before, during, and after the game.
  • The quality of the productsserved is a sine qua non for any catering establishment.

Boulebar: a Swedish-Danish success story

Boulebar is a bar-restaurant concept that originated in Sweden. Today, there are 9 Boulebars in Stockholm, Göteborg, Örebro, Malmö and Copenhagen. The group carries out a turnover of 13,5m€ and employs 160 people.

The concept is simple but innovative. It’s an urban venue dedicated to indoor pétanque.

BouleBar customer experience

The pétanque courts are spread over the 2 floors of Copenhagen’s Boulebar.

To tell you about the Boulebar experience, I visited the one in Copenhagen. And I was amazed by the concept and its success. In the middle of the afternoon, on a sunny Saturday, the Boulebar was packed with friends who were having a good time indoors and who were mainly there to eat and drink. The Boulebar’s slogan sums it up: “Food, drinks & Petanque.” So it’s a place to eat before being a place for “sportsmen.”  Please make no mistake about it. Even if the Danish national petanque team (yes, it does exist🙂 ) trains there, and at the risk of shocking those who know the Boulebar, I’d say that the petanque is incidental. I’ll explain everything in the next paragraph devoted to the customer experience.

BouleBar customer experience

BouleBar customer experience analysis

Boulebar in Copenhagen is a 2-level establishment: a first floor and a basement. Petanque courts are spread over both levels. The playing surfaces are central to the customer experience: you can have spectators wherever you play. A mezzanine allows you to see the players from the basement. For the record, the surfaces differ from one course to another: sand on the first floor, small pebbles in the basement. Petanque experts will appreciate this.

Petanque at Boulebar is the equivalent of peanuts in a traditional bar. It makes you want to stay and consume more.

Petanque is a spectacle that can also be enjoyed by those who don’t play. The restaurant and bar tables are arranged lengthy along the playing areas. As in the south of France, the crowd can comment on your exploits. I think this is very clever for 2 reasons:

  • It’s sure to make non-gamers want to give it a try
  • It gives non-players something to discuss, so they stay longer and consume more.

Petanque at Boulebar is the equivalent of peanuts in a traditional bar. It makes you want to stay and consume more.

Boulebar Copenhagen conclusion

Tables are set up along the lengthy petanque courts, allowing customers to be spectators.

What also makes the difference in customer experience is the attention to detail that makes you feel like you’re in the South of France. Let’s remember, though, that we’re in Copenhagen, and there’s nowhere better when it comes to sunshine. There are many plants, yellow to recall the sun, and a decoration that recalls the “guinguette” spirit typical of France.

Boulebar Copenhagen conclusion

Don’t you think there’s a little “guinguette” spirit in this space?

The imagery sometimes verges on caricature, as on these painted frescoes that scream the ’50s. The Frenchman always wears a beret😉

Boulebar Copenhagen conclusion

As with any customer experience analysis, the emotional aspect must also be considered. There’s something here that goes beyond pure transactional marketing analysis. You don’t buy a drink or food at Le Boulebar. You’re buying an escape to the South of France and a change of scenery, which appeals to me. The relaxed Southern attitude contrasts so well with the rigidity of the North. A little nonchalance too, which undoubtedly gives the Danes the impression that they enjoy themselves. Look at these one-day pétanque enthusiasts acting as if they were. The pastis is on the edge of the field, as those who have never been to Marseille would imagine. Ultimately, Boulebar is a sort of projection of the South of France. Those who have never been there can imagine it. Those who have been there can recall it.

Boulebar Copenhagen conclusion

Pastis is an indispensable companion to pétanque games at the Boulebar.


In conclusion, I’d like to take a step back from Le Boulebar and examine the strength of its marketing strategy. With 9 locations, 160 employees, and over €13m in sales, it’s clear that Boulebar is a success. The crowds I saw there on a normal weekend bear witness to this.

Beyond the concept, Boulebar should inspire entrepreneurs looking to expand in the restaurant sector. Despite the current difficulties (inflation, loss of purchasing power), consumers are more than ever looking for experiences. But most bars and restaurants don’t propose any. Some sprinkle a few experiential elements into their concept without believing in it; others prioritize relaxation and entertainment and need to remember about food and drink.

Striking the right balance is a real challenge. This is where differentiation and the added value expected by the customer lie. The additional activity proposed must make them want to stay and consume more. If you’re looking for ideas, don’t hesitate to contact IntoTheMinds. We’re sure to have a solution for you.

Boulebar Copenhagen interior


Posted in Innovation.

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