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Anatomy of a Rescue

Underworld Grill and Bar Reaches The End

October 13, 2013 By: Mary-Kate Dunphy


Underworld Grill and BarTHE BAR

Las Vegas is home to approximately 75,000 college students, 55% of them being females over 21. Most of these young partygoers avoid The Strip to evade tourists and interact with each other. This is the perfect demographic for a bar to be successful in a town run on good times and yet, Underworld Grill and Bar does not pull in fraternizing coeds and is failing fast.  Underworld attempted to establish a spooky theme but chose cheap decorations that scare for all the wrong reasons.

Aside from the tacky décor, the bar is severely under stocked; even the most popular spirits, such as Captain Morgan, are not to be found. There isn’t even a draft beer system behind the bar. Draft beer has a 22% cost as opposed to bottled beer which has a 27% cost, money is being lost because of the 10 unused beer taps at the bar.

The customer service at Underworld does not help their reputation either. Bartender, Jesse, is digging the bar’s grave even deeper. While he does get women into the bar, they quickly become uneasy due to Jesse’s consistent inappropriate comments. People come to a bar to relax and unwind, not feel uncomfortable.

There is also a serious lack of trust between staff and ownership. This division between the bar causes for a toxic working environment which reflects badly on everyone and causes them to lose even more sales.  Owners, Kris Kaos and Jazz Bender, are losing $2,500 a month and have put $150,000 into the bar overall; if things do not change, Underworld Grill and Bar will go under in two months. Instead of fixing the evident problems at their bar, the owners stalk the employees while they work installing more hostility.

Decorations at underworld

THE CHALLENGE

While Jon Taffer steaks out Underworld Grill and Bar with his team of experts, it is blatant why they are in dire need of being rescued. Firstly, the outside of the bar looks weathered and the lighting does not pull people in whatsoever.

Taffer sends three young females into the bar for the recon. It took the girls multiple tries in order to get a drink they desire due to the under stocked bar. They were also continuously sexually harassed by Jesse throughout their stay.

After finally getting a drink, the girls decided to order a pizza. There is no better food service product for the bar business than pizza…when it is cooked properly. Pizza dough needs to have air pockets in order to maintain a firm structure. Gluten proteins in the dough form an elastic barrier that traps the air and as the pizza is heated, the air pockets for a honeycomb-like structure that created rigidity in the crust which keeps the toppings from sliding off. Needless to say, the cooks at the Underworld Grill and Bar are not aware of that; the pizza is brought out to the girls and they are less than satisfied.

Throughout the recon, it becomes extremely clear that the owners do not trust their bartenders; Kris hovered over the bar, counted the drawers and counted bottles throughout the shift. Employees cannot be at their best when they feel pressured due to an owner breathing down their necks all night.

It was addressed that someone has been stealing Jesse’s tips, which the owners aggressively deny. Later it is brought to light that Jesse has been giving away free drinks in order to make more tip money and while he should be fired, Jesse has the ability to bring people into the bar so Taffer and the owners decide to give him one more chance to prove himself during the stress test.

A plethora of girls show up the night of the stress test and 25 of them were brought in by Jesse. He proved himself in one aspect but fell short on others. All the bartenders at Underworld were clearly overwhelmed and losing all pouring techniques. Entire sides of the bar went ignored for as long as 26 minutes, which is unacceptable.  While the bartenders did make a valid attempt, the owners blew the stress test for their employees. Before the night’s end, the bar ran out of glasses and the drawer ran out of money. The dance floor also went unnoticed the entire night due to the flow and the unwelcoming lighting.  The confusion between the kitchen staff and the servers was undeniable; these people need to come up with a system that works for them.

TURNAROUND TACTICS

In order to fix all the problems the Underworld Grill and Bar has, Taffer and his team undergo extensive training with the owners and staff. Russell Davis, Nightclub & Bar’s 2012 Bartender of the Year trains the staff behind the bar teaching them timeliness and speed. With must practice and frustration, all bartenders successfully learn to make multiple cocktails at one time.

Tony G., owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and 11-time World Pizza Champion, takes on the kitchen staff teaching them why their pizzas come out substandard; the lack of air bubbles and the cheap cheese they use. Pizza is a very convenient bar food because a properly cooked pizza cooks in about six to seven minutes, and once the Underworld kitchen staff learns the technique, they will crank out pizzas to hungry customers.

The numerous trainings the staff and owners underwent released much tension and created a better understanding for one another. The arrogance and bitterness between the workers and the owners was the biggest problem the Underworld Grill and Bar had. Trust is a huge factor in running a successful business and overcoming this will prove positive for their business.

Taffer realized that rebranding is necessary in this case to create a spooky, hip theme that will work for Kris Kaos and Jazz Bender. Going with the recent zombie craze, Taffer decided to transform Underworld into a post-apocalyptic bunker bar. The food and drinks menus go hand in hand with the theme with canned meat for the kitchen and canned juices for the bar; after the apocalypse commences, that’s all that will be left!

Premium spirits were brought in including Captain Morgan and sweet flavored vodka. Women naturally have less serotonin in their bodies than men so the sweeter drink with more sugar will heighten serotonin and make the female quests happy. This is why women prefer sweeter cocktails, hence why it is important to have sugary flavored spirits behind your bar.

After all the training, the owners anxiously await the result of Taffer’s vision with a new found sense of comfort towards their staff. Things look promising for Underworld Grill and Bar already.

The EndTHE RESULT

Underworld Grill and Bar has reached The End, literally because The End is the new name of Kris Kaos and Jack Bender’s bar. Taffer successfully encompassed an apocalyptic theme on the exterior with back lights that illuminate the entire space and a slogan of “Drink if you want to live.”

When entering The End, there are large murals of Las Vegas, if it were attacked by zombies and left for dead. The decorations are far from tacky. There are zombie arms and creepy wall decorations throughout the new bar. A computerized DJ was put it so that when there is not actually a DJ spinning, customers will dance until they, too, reach the end with a programmed playlist. The lights and lasers on the dance floor will entrance people and keep the party going.

In addition, a 3rd bartending station implemented, a draft beer system and a POS system which will track everything eliminating the owners’ paranoia. Running out of glassware will no longer be a problem for The End because Taffer supplied them with a stock of non-breakable glasses.

During the relaunch, the bartenders were spitting out apocalyptic themed cocktails left and right. The laser lights were a hit, as was the new and improved pizza. The owners now have a bar that they are proud of. Jazz Bender says, “This is the coolest bar in the world.”

Although Kris Kaos and Jazz Bender never actually made it in the music industry, The End has given them a way to be rock stars again. Five weeks after the relaunch sales are up 40%. The employees and owners trust each other, and dare I say they may even enjoy each other’s company. The owners and staff at The End have made a bright future for themselves with the help of Jon Taffer.


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