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Anatomy of a Rescue

Zan Z Bar becomes Solids & Stripes

March 10, 2013 By: Kristen Santoro


THE BAR
There are 600 thousand people that live in mile high city of Denver Colorado and with three universities within two square miles the young 21 – 28 year old population is thriving. Despite the median income of only $15K new restaurants and bars have flourished by creating a lively party atmosphere that appeals to this younger demographic.  Failing to grab this demographic is Zan Z Bar – a billiards bar whose cheap drinks and free pool draw an undesirable crowd that discourages young locals from sinking their dollars in the bars pockets.   

Owner Ami was born in Israel and came to the US in search of the American dream.  He originally wanted to be an entertainer but the next best thing was to open a bar. When Zan Z Bar first opened in 2009 the bar brought in $38K a month. However, tragedy struck in 2011 when Ami was in a near fatal car accident leaving him with three broken vertebrae and bedridden for six months. During this time Ami’s former staff took advantage of the absent owner by not only stealing from him but running out the customers with bad service. 

Once Ami got back to the bar he fired all of the employees and has been desperately trying to reclaim his clientele by making his drinks the cheapest on the block. Ami’s way of promoting doesn’t work either and attracts the wrong crowd.  These desperate attempts to draw in crowds sends potential customers hustling by. The bar is currently losing $3K a month and it will only be another six months before they close their doors for good. 

THE CHALLENGE
With everything that has happened over the past two years a now frustrated Ami rules with an iron fist. Failing is not an option for him.  His abrasive ‘my way or the high way’ attitude doesn’t go over well with his staff and has the potential to boil over with some serious consequences. Not only is Ami’s temper an issue he’s robbing his staff of initiative while giving away half of his bar including six bottles of champagne in one night.  Ami believes that his philosophy and gimmicks are good and he doesn’t want to be help at the price of his honor. 

After the stress test Ami’s stubbornness get ahold of him and he lashes out at Expert Chef Brian Duffy and Jon Taffer.  The argument gets so intense that it comes to a physical altercation and smashing of dishes in the kitchen. Taffer is furious and doesn’t know if he can teach Ami to listen to his staff and teach him how to create a great customer experience without giving the house away. Ami’s temper and frivolous distribution of free drinks is not to only issue.

The multi-cultural bar staff is consistently over pouring approximately three times what they should be.  BevIntel reports indicate that on one Friday night they gave away $960.79 worth of liquor and on Saturday an obscene amount totaling $1,596.51. In addition the cook, Dave, has had no previous culinary training and continually cross contaminates the kitchen on a daily basis. There are absolutely no systems in place to make the staff successful.

THE TURNAROUND
In order to get the staff up to speed Taffer brings in two experts to help train the under qualified staff. First is Master Smirnoff and Diageo Mixologist Jenny Costa. Having worked at hotspots in both Miami and LA, Jenny’s experience will help breathe new life into this dying bar.   Jenny immediately gets to work training the bartenders on how to control their over pouring.  She has them continuously pour one ounce of liquor in order for them to create the muscle memory for them to comfortably and accurately pour drinks out of habit. At one point Jenny blindfolds the bartenders and speed testes them on making the new drinks.

Next, Executive Chef for CDB Solutions Brian Duffy who has over 20 years if experience in the industry gets to work in the kitchen.  They decide to make the new menu as simple as possible in order for David to be able to execute the items in a timely fashion. He also helps to rearrange the kitchen making the necessary ingredients more accessible. Once all of the training is well under way Taffer and his team gets to work on rebranding and designing the new bar.  

The first thing they do is make use of the billiards space which encompasses 50% of the bars square footage and currently isn’t making any money. There are two things that most billiards bars do. First they charge guests for every hour you play and second they put a drink minimum on each table.  Therefore, you know that you are going to hit your billiards and drinks revenue.  In addition, they begin adding lighting and a new sound system in order to create the lively party atmosphere that will attract their target demographic.

THE RESULT
Taffer and his team take the failing downtown bar with a disgruntled owner and turn it into Solids & Stripes. The bar plays off of Ami’s American dream theme with a billiards twist.  They add a self-service beer wall that pours craft beer in order to alleviate some of the stress on the bar. The staff is more confident in their cocktails and food service with the training from the experts and Ami has turned a new leaf - thanking Taffer for his hard work and apologizing for his outbursts and uncompromising attitude.   One week later the bar has nearly doubled its sales at almost 50%.  The pool hall also brought in almost $1K the week.


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