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Anatomy of a Rescue

The Brixton Takes Off As Rocket Room 6

March 3, 2013 By: Kristen Santoro


THE BAR
Newlyweds Tim and Sara bought The Brixton, a failing punk rock themed dive bar on the world famous 6th street in the heart of Austin, TX.  Once Sara and Tim took over the bar they did little to improve the venue. Sara was naive to think that she could just be sweet to the customers in lieu of her husband’s abrasive attitude in order to keep customers coming back to the bar.  Tim does not respect any of the customers instead he calls them inappropriate names, talks to them like they’re children and chases them out the door within 20 minute of arrival.

Tim admits that he “doesn’t like frat boys, college students or tourists. I don’t like cocktail lounge mixology. We are not a club, lounge or sports bar. We are not the kind of bar that begs for business.” However, he should be since they are currently $102K in debt and continue to lose at least $1K a month. If they don’t have a big weekend they will not be able to make payroll.

Sara is not only afraid of losing the business but their marriage.  The divorce rate among married business owners is 82% - five times the national average. Sara believes that if Tim doesn’t change his attitude soon they will lose the bar in addition to their house and marriage.  With 57 other bars in the area all competing for patrons that frequent 6th street, Sara and Tim decided to make one last effort to keep their doors open and make the call to world renowned bar consultant Jon Taffer to help.

THE CHALLENGE
With a population of 49K and a median age of 31, the average household income is $50K. The trendy Austin locals stray from mainstream ideals and look for unique nightlife experiences in order to unwind from the typical day to day. During the recon Jon is floored by the image that the bar has created for itself. Not only is Tim known as the jerk owner but they have been posting grotesque things on their Facebook page.  Tim thinks it’s funny however as a former Fortune 500 marketing professional he should know better.  

Taffer sits down with the couple after the pathetic display during the recon to ask some hard questions.  He starts with why on earth would they buy a failing business and not change the name and the interior in order to increase with revenue? He also asks about their marriage which obviously isn’t working. Their constant fighting makes the staff and guests very uncomfortable. Taffer tells Tim that Sara’s resentment is going to continue to grow if he doesn’t change. He has lost his credibility and will soon lose Sara altogether. 

Tim continues to display his complete disregard for the business, the customer, his staff and the team that is trying to help save his business.  His disrespect for everyone continues when he paints a middle finger on the side of the building where Taffer asked him to paint over the existing sign.  Taffer states “candidly that’s emotional and childish.” He urges Sara to take her husband aside and see if he can be a man or if he’s going to stay a boy.

THE TURNAROUND
Taffer bring in Peter O’Connor, world renowned bartender and master of whiskey for Diageo, to help create a new beverage program that will increase profitability. Peter starts by testing the bartender’s knowledge and accuracy of basic cocktails. All of the bartenders show great potential except for Tim.  His attitude reappears and Peter is not happy, pushing him over the edge and forcing him to put Tim in his place. This seems to get Tim back on track and actually make an effort to learn the new techniques.

Once the testing and training is over, Peter introduces the process of infusing spirits. Infusion drinks are typically made with vodka because of its neutral taste and take anywhere from two hours to ten days to make. With endless favor possibilities and an extensive shelf life infusion drinks are a cost effective way to diversify a bars spirits program.  In order to compliment the infusion program they will also be creating a beer cocktail list.

Dating back to 1965 the first beer cocktail was called the Flip. It originated in England and was usually served hot in order to keep the sailors warm during the winter months.  Since then beer cocktails have reemerged as the latest trend in mixology.  With the beverage program underway Taffer and the owners can now focus on the overall concept.

Taffer want to make sure that he creates a bar that has multiple ‘cool’ elements. They review the information obtained from Taffer’s ESRI reports.  These reports give demographic information of the surrounding area in real time.  He utilizes this information to create purpose and meaning behind the decisions that are made. Ultimately, if you don’t understand your target demographic you will not be successful.

THE RESULT
Taffer and his team took a tattoo on Tim’s arm as inspiration for the new concept that they believe will take off. The Brixton becomes Rocket Room 6 where a large steel rocket ship on the roof created by local internationally acclaimed Austin artist Tommy Gregory makes it an iconic landmark.  Taffer and his team have revamped the interior and bar that’s equipped with a chillrite rail, pos system connected to the ‘Be More Pacific’ food truck across the street and garage door that opens into the previously unused patio space.

It seems that owner Tim has changed his attitude “I’m not selling out, I’m buying in.”  However, six weeks later due to an area up rise the bar changed the name back to The Brixton. Tim states that they are happy with all of the tools that Jon Taffer and his team provided them. By utilizing these new tools bar sales have increased 17%, relieving some of the tension between Tim and Sara; in fact they are now expecting their first child.


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