All In With Duel Ultra NightclubJuly 14, 2013 By: Kristen Santoro
In 2009 after establishing a successful landscaping business entrepreneur Brandon Klintworth poured $210 thousand into Cashmere, a martini nightclub. As the hot new club on the block Cashmere became an instant hit and was doing upwards of $60 thousand a month and then all the competition came flooding in.
Customers fled cashmere for the newer hot spots. In order to gain the edge back, Brandon hired his friend, James, to manage the bar and drum up new business. James antagonized the staff and left them stranded. The only thing he had managed to do was run the bar off a cliff.
Now, cashmere is unraveling and Brandon is $250 thousand in debt. If things don’t turn around in the next two months Brandon will not only loos Cashmere he will lose his landscaping business too. With both businesses hanging on by a thread, Brandon has made the bold decision to call in Jon Taffer for help to turn the place around.
Raleigh, North Caroline is named the second fastest growing city according to Forbes Magazine. Glenwood South a neighborhood nestled in the heart of Raleigh boasts a median income of $82 thousand a year; $30 thousand more than the national average which is $50,502 a year.
Packed with more than 55 bars and nightclubs; Glenwood South is a profitable nightlife market for nightlife catering to the wealthy crowd. Failing to keep up with the ultra-cheek competition, martini nightclub Cashmere sits dry.
The nightclub ranks 45th in check-ins on foursquare out of 55 nightclubs making them irrelevant to the large D.I.N.K. [Duel Income No Kids] population in the area. There is a huge population of couples living in the city making very comfortable combined household incomes without the kids to keep them home at night.
In order for Cashmere to tap into this demographic there are a couple of major issues that they need to correct. The first of which would be Brandon taking control of his management. James the current manager and friend of owner Brandon is more focused on managing his own sex life and party than getting the business back on track. He’s playing the big shot on the owner’s dime. His parting is so out of control that the night of the recon James ended up sleeping at the bar because he was too drunk to drive home.
In addition to management problems, there are a slew of other bugs that are affecting the profitability of the bar. Literally. In the cold kitchen, it was obvious that the place needed to be fumigated. The place is filthy. The dirt and dust is so thick that it is visible to customers even before they step into the bar. However, the grim pales in comparison to what expert mixologist Joe Brooke finds when evaluating the bar; tape on the bottles. Now this might not seem like a big issue at first however, Taffer and his team know that there is a reason for this and it’s not a good one.
North Carolina is an alcohol control states and they put package stickers on the bottles; over time labels on the bottles wear out because of handling. Joe noticed that there was scotch tape over these labels. The only reason there would be tape on the bottles is so that the labels do not ware out. Jon knows there is something corrupt going on. The spies thought that their drinks tasted awful; one didn’t even think that it was Tanqueray in her drink and Jon thinks she is right. He questions the bartenders if they are refilling the bottles.
To prove his point, Jon uses a hydrometer that tests the proof of every alcohol behind the bar. Therefore, if a brand that is 80 proof and another liquor is poured in the bottle you would be able to tell from the device. Under the direction of James, Cashmere is taking cheap bar brands and putting them in premium bottles. It’s not only illegal, that’s one of the worst moves you could ever make as a nightclub. Your liquor license can be gone in less than 24 hours.
James thought that they would be able to save money and didn’t look at it as a stupid idea. These aren’t mistakes these are choices and these poor decisions are being made with $210 thousand on the line. Brandon gives James one last chance to shape up or ship out. They are never going to have good employees if they don’t have good management.
The 2700 square foot space has a dance floor, an unused kitchen and an L shaped bar with four speed wells and two spirits displays. Since the nightclub is located on the first level of an office building there is very little that can be done to the outside of the building. Therefore, Jon and his team need to get creative on pulling customers into the nightclub and wowing them once inside.
There are 40 bars and 15 nightclubs in the vicinity of Cashmere; that is a lot of competition and they need to stand out through what Jon calls POD, point of difference. Therefore, Jon puts in a second DJ booth; creating the world’s first dueling DJ nightclub.
In addition, they create a double deep butt funnel. A butt funnel is a tight entrance to the dance floor that causes people to rub together. They connect, their eyes meet and twenty minutes later they are having a drink together.
Jon also decides that it’s best to bring in three experts for this rescue. First up is, expert mixologist Joe Brooke, the owner and chief consultant of Fancy Bar Consulting in LA. He specializes in transforming beginner bartenders into premium mixologists. Next is service expert Jesse Barns who works at Park at 14th in Washington, DC, a successful club that brings in $10 million a year. Jesse’s hospitality experience will give this staff the high end polish they need. Finally, celebrity chef Nick Liberato is called in. Nick can produce creative cuisine in any environment; making him the perfect choice to stir up new menu items in Cashmere’s cold kitchen.
Joe Brooke dives right in on the first day of training with the bartenders. He quickly notices that Chelsea is lacking the most basic of skills and questions whether or not she will be able to handle the job. You could be making the best cocktail in the world but if it take more than 10 minutes to get to the customer it doesn’t matter the experience is ruined. Therefore, Jon and Joe came up with a cocktail list that is equal parts mixology and speed.
In the meantime, Chef Nick needs to evaluate the skills of the new chef that has been brought in to create small shareable appetizers for the food menu. The chef really impressed the owner and Jon’s team. Therefore, they decided to expand the menu and make it a little more technical with the simple new equipment. Brandon is very excited about the new revenue that will be brought in through these simple food options.
Jesse gets to work assessing the cocktail waitress’s service skills. The service girls have never been trained before and have no idea what they are doing. Therefore, Jesse stops them and corrects their mistakes by telling them not to ask the patron what they want to drink but by suggestive selling and letting them know what the specials are for the night.
However, the biggest change needed decided on by Brandon. Was James going to stay or go? James is scatterbrained and cannot focus on anything. He is always trying to do ten things at once. He is rude and doesn’t want to help the kitchen staff. He is taking everything out on everyone else because he is so disorganized; pointing fingers at anyone but himself. After the stress test it is clear that Lena and James can’t handle it and are both let go.
Cashmere was an irrelevant nightclub in a great market. Something needed to be done that had a great image, style and a unique presentation. Keeping this in mind Jon presents Duel Ultra Nightclub.
The new night club is all about the great interaction. Everything from the flow patterns with the butt funnel to the dueling DJs to the improved service Duel Ultra Nightclub will now be able to provide a great customer experience. One month after the relaunch bar sales went up 30% and James has not returned to the bar.