From Extremes to Second BaseSeptember 30, 2012 By: Nancy Hadley
Situated along a busy street, lined with strip malls and empty storefronts, Extremes Sports bar would have been invisible if not for the gigantic purple-framed lightbox sign with the lettering “Extremes” in nondescript black font on a field of cheap fluorescent white. The buildings color also mimics most of its neighbors with its in invisible gray. There is no excitement or effective pop of color, even with the obnoxious sign it is difficult to pick out the bar below. It turns out that attempting to blend in was actually doing a public service to the community.
Walking into Extremes would have been safer in a hazmat suit and respirator. The stench of old beer, dropped food, and low-level rot would stun an elephant. How this bar receives any repeat customers after the initial olfactory assault, is baffling. No doubt the primary reason to withstand this affront to the senses was thought to be the collection of young women staffing the bar in a mélange of skimpy outfits. Sadly, upon closer inspection, one could only conclude that said skimpy outfits must have been selected in a pitch black room. The final result was that of a poorly attended Spring Break party in 100 degree weather where someone barfed into a windowless room.
Extremes is supposedly a sports bar, but most of the indiscriminately placed televisions are antiquated and difficult to see; even worse, the beer from the dirty taps is undrinkable. The final straw is Owner Terry Bryant himself; he cannot see the problems in his own bar. He will not repair broken and dilapidated equipment or replace the damaged smelly flooring. When confronted with low sales, lack of communication, and nasty working conditions, Terry points the finger at his employees. Although Extremes does have a manager named Gary, he was promoted from security into the position and has no previous experience. Gary is popular with the female employees because he lets them get away with murder; surprisingly this former tough guy lacks the backbone to properly guide the staff toward success.
Extremes pulled in about $25,000 per month in 2005, but the steady decline of quality and operations has made the income plummet to $400 per month in 2012. The question is not “How will Jon fix this bar?” but “How has it survived this long?” Jon and his team need to pump out the stench and pump in new life in order to bring Extremes Sports Bar back from the brink of financial disaster.
A bar this dilapidated breeds decay from the floor to the attitudes. The food is overpriced and the cook is disobedient. Beer posters stapled to the walls in the entry cover up giant holes in the drywall. In the center of the bar, there is a booth bench that looks like it was picked up on the side of the freeway after a month in the elements. The flooring behind the bar is a raised platform that allows for tap lines and plumbing but a tap line leak rotted a hole through it. Common sense would dictate that you repair the line, tear up the rotten floor, and replace it. Terry’s solution? Drop a sheet of plywood over it. In addition to creating a trip hazard and begging for an accident, the slapdash solution serves to reinforce his staff’s lack of care. The girls turn up for work in their version of bathing suits, pour inconsistent drinks, and drink along with the customers in an effort to boost their tips.
Jon’s team has to handle the sewage aroma long enough to rip out the rot and clear the decks for some honest to goodness staff retraining.
Jon agrees that the only thing Terry got right about the business was giving it a sports bar concept. Extremes is a misnomer and the only thing Extreme about this bar is its dirt. Jon knows the key to this is branding. Because he wants to maintain the sex appeal but bring it to a less worn out level, Jon brings in bar owner, Renee Vicary and her manager, Brian Avery, to do the reconnaissance.
Renee and Brian know what to look for; they currently operate the highly successful bar Racks in Corona, CA. On Season One of Bar Rescue, Renee called on Jon to help her redefine her sports bar. She has proven to be a very apt pupil. Since Bar Rescue turned the dilapidated Angels into the re-branded Racks, Renee’s business has doubled in the last year. Racks is a prime example of Jon Taffer’s proven methods for success. Renee and Brian discover multiple problems common to failing bars: different bartenders making the same drink inconsistantly, the food is disgusting, the staff drinks with the customers, and the owner, Terry, drinks excessively in the bar.
Jon calls on celebrity chef, Aaron McCargo, to address the bad food and expert mixologist, Joseph Brooke, for a crash course in consistent drinks and professional conduct. These experts have a few days to impart a lifetime of wisdom to the staff.
The interior is another matter. Renovating a business in 36 hours has challenges under the best of circumstances. This particular bar suffers from substantial damage and neglect; Jon’s Production Designer, Nancy Hadley, and her team of unsung heroes (Libby, Steve, and Jordan) must dig through the grime, prioritize the damage, and see what can be fixed.
Nancy and her staff begin with the repair of the gaping hole in the floor, sagging bar top and removal of random laminate floor patches. They bid farewell to the lone disheveled booth bench. They discover and remove black lights above the bar; the garish effect of radioactive green smiles from the bartenders being happily banished. In the kitchen, the giant decaying stove is replaced with a more efficient new one, allowing for more prep space. The mixologist works tirelessly with the staff to help them regulate their pours.
Extremes delivered on its name; extreme odor, extremely bad management, and extreme maintenance problems. It was important to shed this name fast and give the new space a new identity. Most importantly, the name must be playful, catchy, and fun – Second Base Bar and Grill. A perfect brand for a sports bar so close to a major baseball stadium, with a cute sexy double meaning.
The building itself received a major facelift. The team installed new signage, unbranded umbrellas on the patio, fresh paint inside and out, new stools, new taps, a bank of flat screens, new felt on the pool tables, new pendants, and a floor plan with specific sections for ease of customer service. Chef Aaron, got the kitchen running smoothly with mouth watering comfort food. The bartenders, now wearing matching retro bikinis, learned from Mixologist Joseph, how to pour perfect mixed drink and tap perfect beers from an overhauled tap system.
Now the once seedy hangout is inviting to men and women alike. The smell of rancid beer has been replaced with the pleasant aroma of a fresh club sandwich. The ratty, sagging upholstered bench has been replaced with new tables and stools in the “batter’s box” section. A small set of bleachers sit beside the pool tables to accommodate a fan base during pool tournaments, or for catching a great group photo when out with your friends. The attractively dressed bartenders greet you with a smile, and when you cozy up to the bar you know the beer is fresh, the games are on, and you can have a hearty and delicious meal.