Fairways Gets Stuck In the Sand TrapNovember 17, 2013 By: Kristen Santoro
After ten year in finance Richard Jordan took a swing at the bar business and invested his lifetime earning into Fairways, a golf themed bar. Richard has always loved golf since the first time he picked up a club at the age of 15 and decided that he wanted to incorporate it into his work. Therefore, he bought a $40,000 golf simulator which he thought would draw in crowds.
Upon opening the golf simulator failed to be the money machine that he had hoped for and in the first month they lost $10,000. Richard desperately tried other marketing ploys to get people in the door, but these attempts completely missed the mark.
As bills piled up, Richard’s dreams quickly became a nightmare. Richard was forced to return to his accounting job to help pay for the bar. With Richard spread thin more work fell on his assistant manager Michelle who has been working in the business for 20 years. But Michelle was unable to make the necessary changes to revive the bar as her hands were tied.
Further compounding the problem is Richard’s friend and Fairway Chef, Kevin. Kevin graduated from the culinary academy but his lack of cleanliness and less than enticing food keeps customers at bay. Instead of confronting the bars glaring problems Richard retreats in stone faced silence. Now, Richard is unable to chip away at his $150,000 debt. With his house on the line and his dreams in a sand trap, Richard has two months before he’ll need to close the doors for good.
Thirty-four miles south of Nashville sits Murfreesboro, TN. As one of the nation’s fastest growing cities Murfreesboro is home to Middle Tennessee State University and boasts 15,000 students that are 21 and over. Less than two miles away from the collage, Fairways Golf & Grill sits in the rough.
With a lackluster exterior that looks more like a retail store than a bar, Fairways is in desperate need of a makeover. Jon Taffer has never seen a golf concept work. Golf is a typically low energy which is the complete opposite to the fun, excitement and energy of a bar. All of the shots that Richard has been far from a hole in one; costing him $7,000 a month.
Jon Taffer sits in his SUV outside the bar during the recon with Steve Blovat, a professional health inspector. Taffer brought Steve to the bar because he believes that this is one of the worst kitchens that he has ever seen. They cannot believe that there are owners out there that allow their employees to work in these types of conditions let alone serve food and drinks out of it.
Taffer sends in Chef Brian Duffy and Phil Wills to further inspect the bar. As they enter Fairways, a 6,000 square foot space featuring a short L-shaped bar with a single service station, 20 beers on tap and a large kitchen with two walk in coolers, they can immediately smell and see grime. Once inside they order a series of drinks, that every bartender should be able to make, and one of everything on the menu.
The kitchen begins to fall apart as soon as the ticket comes in. There is no structure and no standards. The cooks are cross contaminating food product by touching raw meat and then other prepared food products; gloves are not used and there is no separation from raw to cooked product. Steve, the health inspector, doesn’t know they have lasted eight months with the dozens of violations that are taking place in the kitchen.
The bar doesn’t get much better with Phil’s first sip of beer making him sick for the rest of the night. Phil immediately tasted a hard metallic after sipping on the beer. Phil knew right way that something wasn’t right as beer starts to go bad after about three minutes. Kegs should be changed at least every four months when properly installed and stored. However, Phil believe the keg must have been there since the bar fist opened, over eight months prior.
Once the food starts to come out Brian doesn’t even need to take a bit to see that nothing was cooked properly. The burgers that were ordered were supposed to be medium and they are bloody, the salsa is sour and there is dirt on the bottom of the mushrooms.
Taffer and Steve are so discussed with what they see that they storm into the bar and head directly for the kitchen. With the things that they find it’s no wonder the bar doesn’t have any customers. The salsa is bubbling because the bacteria has grown so far that it’s multiplying, vents are covered in slime and gunk is being pulled out of the bottom of the fryer.
Taffer sees raw chicken sitting out in the open and knows that it is above a safe temperature. Kevin the cook states that he is positive that the chicken is still in the safe zone. However, when Steve takes the temperature of the chicken one batch is at 57 degrees and the other at 68. Raw chicken should never be over 40 degrees.
Steve also points out three significant areas of mold in the walk in cooler. Toxic black mold is rare but very dangerous. These molds damage vital parts of the human body including the lungs and immune system and are potentially fatal. Toxic mold can spread easily through air vents; therefore any infestations found in any area of the bar can render the entire bar unsafe. The second walk in is even worse with mushrooms growing inside. Spores have their own unique smell that you do not want to be breathing in or growing in storage locations.
Once the bar is deemed non-toxic by professionals the staff begins cleaning the bar and kitchen. However, when Taffer comes in to check to see how they did the kitchen is still not up to par. Taffer and Steve give them three more hours to get it together or they will need to completely shut down the kitchen.
During the stress test Taffer implements a real time survey where the customers can rate the food, drinks and service provided. Taffer also gave all of the customers red cards to hold up in order to get a reading of the room. Eighteen minutes into the stress test and not one person sitting at a table has a drink; totaling 34 drinks. In addition, the kitchen hasn’t been able to get any food out with only three items on the menu. Due to these problems, the survey indicated that 100% of the customer would not return to the bar.
In order to turnaround the bar award winning Chef Brian Duffy will use his gourmet comfort foods to elevate the food program and expert mixologist Phil Wills will teach the bartending staff the basics and beyond.
In order to be successful in the kitchen you need to know the tools that you are working with. Therefore, Chef Duffy starts training by discussing the frequently used tools including knives. There are seven different parts of a knife. The blade, tip, heal, tang, rivets, handle and the back. Different knives are meant for cutting different food products.
With the basic tools outlined, Chef Duffy tests the cooks by giving them a series of items and times them. During Kevin’s test the wings were not fully cooked, the burger was not seasoned properly and squeezed into the grill multiple times.
At the bar one of the main issues was the bartenders do not know where everything is stored. Proprioception and exteroception are sensations that allow humans to find objects without using sight. These senses allow people to navigate their bedrooms in the dark. They also allow bartenders to increase their productivity behind the bar. Keeping this in mind Phil starts training the bartenders with the blindfold test. This test makes the bartenders focus more on where things are so that when they are behind the bar they are able to take one quick look and know what they are reaching for. The next day training continues with the new cocktail list. Taffer and his team have brought in an espresso machine in order to fuse the coffee theme with the bar.
After the stress test, Richard decided to give Michelle more authority to hire and fire employees for the betterment of the business. Immediately upon this decision Michelle decided that it is necessary to fire Kevin, who couldn’t handle the job and promote James in the kitchen. In addition to this change Taffer needs to get started on a plan for changing the theme of the bar to fit the target demographic.
Now, if Fairways had five different golf machines and 50,000 golfers in the area they might be able to make the concept work; however the largest demographic in the US that plays golf is 52-59 years old and not in the immediate vicinity of the bar. However, the city’s population has increased by 66% with the majority being 21-29 years old. This target demographic cares less and less about golf, therefore Taffer and his team decided on a hybrid of a coffeehouse and a bar.
Brew U, is a coffee fusion bar that will draw in the local colleage student that are looking for a place to relax and grab a drink. They utilize home town colors and mixed seating in the design that is condusive to the different type of collage students. They also have suffecient outlets and plugs for students that want to grab some food or drinks and work on their laptop.
Again, on the relalunch taffer utilized a real time survey on the food, drinks and service. The results showed the 100% of the people would recommend the bar to a friend; a huge step in the right direction for the new bar.
Eight weeks after the relaunch sales at Brew U have doubled. Kevin continues to call Richard; however he does not return the calls.