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Anatomy of a Rescue

Win, Place or Show becomes American Live

September 16, 2012 By: Liza Wylie


THE BAR

In 2010 decorated retired career navy man, Barry Rogers, decides to take $50,000, his entire life savings, and invest it in what had once been an unpopular biker bar in Fairfield, OH.  His dream was to transform it into a sports bar.  After 2 years he’s in debt $100,000 and losing $2,000 per week.  He has 30 days to turn Win, Place or Show around or he’ll be forced to close his doors for good.

 

THE CHALLENGE

Barry’s greatest challenge is his partner Rudy Garcia.  Cash strapped and desperate Barry allowed his friend Rudy to invest in the business. It quickly became evident that Rudy has no interest in running the business and is more interested in his music career.    Rudy’s band doesn’t help the situation – as soon as the band starts playing most of the patrons head for the door even on Saturday nights.  Barry is working 90 hours a week while Rudy puts in one quarter of that.  Plus, Rudy likes to give away free drinks and that coupled with the staff’s tendency to over pour results in giving away $600 worth of liquor in one night alone!

Another significant issue is that Win, Place or Show is a confused brand.  Taffer notes it sounds more like an Off Track Betting location than a sports bar.  Without a grand opening when Barry purchased the bar and no change in appearance, it still looks like the unpopular bar that it once was.  There is no reason why any of the 38,000 cars that drive by this location each day would want to stop.  

The kitchen is filthy and only partially functional with an oven and a sink that don’t work.  The food is improperly stored and prepared; resulting is soggy and greasy meals.  The bar is no better.   It’s poorly laid out with only one bartending station.  Unsanitary conditions plague the bar with napkins sticking to the top and the soda gun bacteria laden.  The daytime bartender, who is Rudy’s wife, is lazy and consistently demonstrates that she cares nothing for the business or the customers. In fact, the lunchtime business has dwindled to just 50% of what it was prior to her hire.  With bad food, bad drinks and bad service this bar is doomed.

 

TURNAROUND TACTICS

In order to turn this bar around it needs to be a concept that the local community can embrace.  This is a working class area in the Heartland with two military bases nearby.  Taffer decides nothing says middle America better than barbeque and whiskey.  Bar expert Jason Bran and Chef Aaron McCargo get to work creating menus that fit this concept.  Bran focuses his efforts on bourbon and whiskey cocktails and McCargo decides that the kitchen will offer four distinct flavors of barbeque. Then it’s onto training the staff, focusing on breaking bad habits and learning new techniques to increase efficiency, control costs and create a better, more consistent guest experience. 

Bars aren’t opened they are launched.  One of Barry’s biggest mistakes was failing to change the poor perception of the bar.  Taffer changes the name of the bar to America Live.  A new sign is installed outside the bar along with a sign reading Bar and BBQ.  Anyone driving by immediately knows what the place offers.  Inside, the bar still looks like a biker bar so Nancy Hadley gets to work making changes to make the stage pop, fixing the acoustics with sound baffling, installing new lighting at the bar, creating additional bar stations and changing the furniture and layout.

The biggest problem still needs to be solved and that is Rudy.  While Rudy says that he cares about the business Jon knows that he cares only about his rock and roll career.  Jon convinces Rudy that selling his portion of the business is in his best interest in order to pursue his dream.  Dedicated employee Amber wants to buy into the business because she believes in Barry and is ready to make a commitment to the business.  With Rudy out of the business and Amber a stakeholder Taffer has created a partnership poised for success.

A great music line up is essential to this concept.  To kick off the grand opening local radio station 96 Rock offers up the well-known band Hail Storm to make the official launch of America Live an event which will capture the attention of the community.

 

THE RESULT

Opening night brings a huge crowd anxious to experience America Live.  The bar and kitchen are slammed and they are off and running.  Partner Amber  has “found her zone” and Barry has his fire back.  Win, Place or Show is gone as is the biker bar which preceded it.  In its place is America Live - a concept with great food, appealing beverages, good music and an energized team prepared to serve their customers and make money.  Taffer has taken a bar on the verge of closing and launched a new one in its place one positioned to win.


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