Allegedly Slickety Spilt has the Best Pizza in Philly
In 2003, former Philadelphia detective, Tom Gaylord, who spent 20 years in the force, retired and bought Lickety Split. Thinking that running a bar would be an easier life, Tom cashed in $100,000 from his 401K. Located in the heart of South St., one of the largest tourist destinations in the US, Lickety Split quickly became a Philadelphia hot spot. Money was flowing, every chair was filled and there was a line out the door. It was the place to go; a tourist attraction.
But Tom’s 27 arduous years in law enforcement began to take a toll on him. Rather than dealing with his issues, Tom turned to drinking. And as the drinking got more out of control, so did Tom’s behavior. With the staff fed up with Tom’s antics and customers repulsed by his inappropriate behavior, Tom struggles to stay afloat.
Currently, $110,000 in-debt, if things don’t change in three months then Tom’s done for good. With her father’s health and financial future in jeopardy, Laura has reached out to Jon Taffer for help.
The signage at Lickety Split doesn’t say anything about drinks or cocktails, making it look like just a pizza shop from the outside. The bar, which sits on a very busy city block, really isn’t doing anything outside to stimulate capturing potential customers walking by. And the signage inside the bar is even worse; insulting the customers that happen to make the mistake of entering.
The insults and derogatory terms don’t stop there. The names of the drinks being served are vulgar and the bartender’s believe they’re embarrassing to the business. If Lickety Splits was a collage bar then the drink might make sense; however, the bar has a median tourist age of 45 and 25% of them have kids and the vulgar names for drinks is not right for the crowd.
In addition to the drinks that the bartenders don’t like, the food can be added to that list. The pizza is greasy and has a funny smell to it. It’s dense and flat looking. Really nice pizza usually has air pockets and bubbles in it. The cheesesteak doesn’t get much better. Again, it’s covered in grease and isn’t fresh. With Jim’s Steaks across the street, one of the most famous and best cheesesteak operations in Philadelphia, it’s no wonder their food sales have plummeted.
The beer the bartenders are pouring is all foam. They pour out the foam and refill the glass. The foam is 25% beer so they’re literally pouring profits down the drain. The temperature of the beer is 65 degrees. When beer is warmer than 39 degrees foam begins to build. The gasses in the beer start to change the flavor and diminished the chance to make a profit off of it.
In the kitchen, Frank is furious to see that the refrigerator isn’t set at the right temperature, dough for pizza is right next to raw mean and everything is uncovered. The walkin cooler in the basement is disgusting. The dough is all over the place, not covered and some of it lying on the floor. This happens because the cooks come into the cooler leave the door open and the dough starts to react, causing it to rise and topple over when stacked.
Dough rises when enzymes in yeast start to feed on sugar and release carbon dioxide air pockets in the dough. As the temperature rises yeast becomes more active and left unchecked, dough can rise too much and explode; affecting the dough’s texture and taste.
However, the biggest issue the bar and the staff faces is Tom. He’s always drunk at the bar and degrading the staff and the customers. Tom has no energy and no fire left to keep the business running properly.
Lickety Split is a 3,000 square foot two story space with a bar upstairs and a second bar downstairs with a display kitchen. The science of a two story bar is to never make the second floor second best. You need to make it equally or more important than the first. Then guests have a reason to go upstairs and the bar has more of a chance to make money.
But, before they can start to think about redesigning the bar some serious work training the staff needs happen. For the kitchen Taffer has brought in NY pizza expert Frank Pinello. A master of all things pizza, Frank can teach any kitchen staff the keys to a great pie.
The science to making pizza is simple. Frank has the cooks cut down on the amount of grams that they are using for the dough to make the pizzas a little smaller. You want the dough to have nice air pockets in it and for it to be delicate, not dense. You want to make sure that the dough to sauce ratio is accurate and that it’s sprinkled evenly with cheese. This way you have a great pizza, good profit margins and proper ratios. And that’s really what you’re looking for when making pizza.
For the bar, Taffer has brought in expert mixologist Phil Wills. His talent for speed and flair can whip any bar staff into shape. The first rule, Phil implements when working with the bartenders is that there are no more drinks with offensive names on the menu. Once that’s made clear, he then continues by teaching the three types of drink making techniques – the build, the stir, and the shake.
When you build a drink you layer the ingredients in the glass that you will be serving the cocktail in. When you stir a cocktail you want to make sure that you hold the bottom of the glass that you are stirring. You don’t want to stop stirring until the glass is cold; that’s when you know the cocktail is properly chilled. When you shake you want to make sure that the glass is behind you just in case the seal breaks and liquid comes out.
With Philadelphia is a huge tourist destination with about 39 million tourists a year that hit the city. Vegas is has only about 44 million tourists each year, therefore the opportunity to make money is abundant at Lickety Split with the 17,500 people a day that walk by the front door. In order to succeed the bar needs to capture a percentage patrons off of the street. The potential customer needs to see something from the outside that makes them want to go inside.
Taffer needs to create two separate brands; one for the first floor and one for the second to capture customers. The downstairs food has more substance to create a great visual through the window and pull in the tourists from outside. The second floor is more about social interactions and smaller shareable portions. Utilizing the same products on both floors just packaging them differently.
In addition to the physical and F&B improvements, Tom has been making quite the difference as well. When he’s sober he is having a very positive impact on his business. However, Taffer still wants to make sure that Tom has a way to cope with his post-traumatic stress. Therefore, Taffer invites Dr. Eric Levin to sit and speak with Tom, offering him some guidance in dealing with the issues he faces from his years on the force.
Taffer and his team turn Lickety Split into Alleged Bar & Pizza, on the first floor, and 2nd State Lounge, on the second. For Alleged, Taffer installed a brand new draft beer system and move the kitchen so that people on the street can see the cooks tossing pizza dough in the air; creating excitement and energy. The bar upstairs is a hats off to the founding fathers of Philadelphia; keeping some of the historic elements that the bar already had. At the relaunch the new bar did $1,200 in one hour! 2nd State Lounge is flourishing and Tom has continued to seek help for his issues.