TJ Quill’s Gets AnneX’edFebruary 24, 2013 By: Mary-Kate Dunphy
Uptown New Orleans should be the perfect location to turn a profit, with populated universities nearby filled with thirsty college students craving a hang out spot. TJ Quill’s is positioned in a prime setting, however, they are not rolling in the dough of all these college kids and instead their failing and failing fast.
Darian Blanchard, the owner of TJ’s, has a staff entirely made up of his buddies. The bartenders at TJ’s are well-known for getting drunk behind the bar, borderline harassing any female customer who mistakenly wanders in, leaving a mess, and taking their shirts off while on the clock. “Sometimes having a good time is slightly more important than making money,” TJ’s bar manager said when referring to the staff partying on the job. Although the employees are Blanchard’s friends, they do not seem to understand the importance of TJ Quill’s success to their boss. TJ’s is Blanchard’s livelihood and he has found himself half a million dollars in debt, most of the said $500,000 belonging to his mother.
When Darian bought TJ Quill’s in April 2012, the bar came equipped with a horrible reputation for serving high school students. The bar has been raided and the police have threatened to shut them down if there are any more indiscretions regarding underage drinking.
There is no kitchen in TJ Quill’s, which cuts down on the length of time customers stay while simultaneously cutting down on their drink orders and TJ’s profits. TJ Quill’s most extensive problem is that it is unhip. There is no kitchen, no females, underage drinking, and immature employees with an owner that is too concerned with maintaining friendships than running a successful business; all of these facts are ingredients for the fall of TJ Quill’s and Darian Blanchard. The bar loses $4,000-$5,000 a month, and Blanchard reveals that if the business keeps going at this rate, he will completely run out of money in 3 months.
TJ Quill’s has acquired a negative reputation throughout the years for being an uncool bar that overlooks high school drinking. When Jon Taffer reveals his purpose at TJ Quill’s and the failure of the bar, it becomes an unnecessary, heated battle as the employees feel the need to defend their friends, whether they are right or wrong. Taffer realizes this will be a test of character for all the employees of TJ Quill’s. Blanchard is an employer to his friends and he simply does not know how to manage them without feeling guilty; because of this lack of leadership, Blanchard has a front row seat for the demise of his business. Good friends do not make a bar successful, good employees do; the employees of TJ Quill’s need to step up or step out.
Jon sits Darian down and gets all the details of the failing business. Taffer reiterates facts that Blanchard seems to be aware of, but does not act upon; such as the idea that the business will not exist if he continues to be afraid of losing friendships. Blanchard needs to start acting like the owner of a bar and not the president of a frat house.
The challenge for Jon and his crew is to transform the entire staff of TJ Quill’s into hardworking, respectable employees, add a kitchen, and make TJ’s the hip college bar that it should be.
Jon brought in Elayne Duff, head mixologist for Diageo, and she was shocked when she watched the playback of three days of surveillance from TJ Quill’s with Jon. She immediately understood what TJ’s needed: girls. To help these naïve bartenders, Elayne taught them to mix up some new concoctions to attract a female clientele base. Elayne also gave the boys a lesson in proper etiquette when speaking to and serving women (i.e. never take your shirt off when in public).
Jon says the length of stay is directly correlated with food; the average customer will stay 52 minutes longer if they have something to eat. Chef Brian Duffy came in the mix to teach the staff of TJ Quill’s a thing or two about the basic cooking essentials with the new oven he brought with him, which cooks twelve times faster than the typical, conventional oven.
After weeding out the over consuming, bad doorman, and hot head, TJ Quill’s was ready for the big change. Jon and his crew transformed the unhip bar that was TJ Quill’s to a sexy, college hangout called AnneX. The bar went under a total remodel. A complete new bar gives leeway for endless opportunities.
Being that AnneX is located in Uptown New Orleans along with Loyola University and Tulane University, the new drink menu was created to remind student clientele of books they may have read in class, with each drink being named after a famous novel. Going along with the college theme, the receipts customers receive will resemble that of a college bookstore. “That’s marketing,” says Jon. AnneX will provide great brands of alcohol with college prices.
It is legal to smoke indoors in New Orleans, however, a large percentage of college students don’t smoke. To solve this problem, an air filter was put into the bar to clean the air and accommodate the nonsmokers. Touch screen, digital menus were put into tables where the customer clicks on what they want. It then gets sent straight to the kitchen, and minutes later, they are enjoying a simple meal with a Louisiana twist.
With the help of Jon and his crew, AnneX employees have a new found sense of pride in themselves and in their bar. The employees’ rash behavior got left behind with TJ Quill’s, the employees of AnneX are hardworking men geared towards running a successful business and turning around the negative reputation of the building they work in. Jon admits that his proudest moment of the renovation was when the remaining bouncer, Big Rob, rejected a fake ID. By turning away invalid ID’s, AnneX is legitimizing itself and soon, the building will not be known for underage drinking.
Darian Blanchard, along with his buddies/employees have changed for the better and are on their way to becoming the cool college bar that they have been striving to be. If this sense of workmanship sticks, Darian is well on his way to paying his mother back every penny she loaned him.