Lona bought a 30,000 square foot bar in 1999; at the time Lona’s Wardlow Station was a busy, blue collar bar in split between two cities, Long Beach and Signal Hill, California. Lona’s philosophy for her business was if she could work 80 hours a week for someone else, then she could do it for herself. While her hard work does not go unnoticed, her absence of ownership experience is quite evident. She allows her employees to do the bare minimum and permits her staff to take advantage of her kindness.
The first observation they make is the fact that the bar is giving off a very conflicting vibe. Lona’s is supposed to be a sports bar, but the sign has a picture of an old fashion woman in a dress, which clearly has nothing to do with sports. In addition, Jon finds the lobster tank distasteful and disturbing, not to mention that it chases away customers.
Russell Davis begins his work with the bartenders and judging from the margarita made during the recon, the margarita seems like a great place to get started. Russell teaches them how to make simple yet delicious drinks that will keep customers coming back for more. In the kitchen, Jason Febres teaches Ali the basics of cooking. The food Lona gets for Ali to cook with comes from a can which Febres compares to catfood. Customers are willing to pay 40% more for higher quality food products, so Jason teaches Ali to make simple, Mexican dishes from fresh produce.
Three months after the relaunch, food sales at Lona’s City Limits Cantina went up 25% and the bar sales went up 35%. Bartender, Mikey, says that things have been going well since Jon left and he is glad the lobster tank is gone. New people have been coming into the Cantina and old people back been coming back. Lona’s has a whole new look and now stands an infinitely better chance of succeeding.