Brix in Sunset Beach is Crumbling

Spike

This year, 6,500 bars failing bars nationwide will close their doors for good. If things don’t change soon, Brix Wine Bar in Sunset Beach, California will become just another statistic. In 2005, former trucking business owner Rick Reich made the decision to pick up his family and move to California to fulfill a lifelong dream of opening a wine bar. Located one block from the ocean in the affluent community of Sunset Beach, Brix thrived in its first year. But inexperienced Rick focused on entertaining his customers rather than managing his business, making Brix his personal stage. Lack of systems meant bartenders were unable to meet basic customer needs. The disorganized environment and poor service drove customers away. $180,000 in debt, Rick is struggling to keep the business afloat. Before the curtains close on Brix, Rick and Sharon have agreed to pull back the doors, bust open the books and make a call for help to Bar Rescue.

For the kitchen, Jon Taffer brings in Chef Pink of Bacon and Brine. As the owner of a successful restaurant in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, she’s the perfect chef to create a fresh Southern California menu to compliment the bar’s wine program. For the bar, Jon brings in sommelier Matthew Kaner. With his experience designing wine programs in two successful Los Angeles wine bars - Covell in Los Angeles and Augustine Wine Bar in Sherman Oaks - Matthew has the know-how to transform this beach bar into a wine lover’s destination. Jon calls in recon veterans Maria Menounos and her boyfriend Kevin Undergaro. Maria’s journalistic savvy combined with the couple’s taste for wine makes them the perfect team for Jon’s reconnaissance. Brix is a 3,100 square-foot space featuring two rooms. The smaller room connects to the kitchen and features beer while the larger room highlights wine. During recon, Rick opened 8 bottles of wine for Maria and Kevin without making one single sale, equating to a loss of at least $250. When confronted by Jon, Rick couldn’t answer questions about when he last performed inventory, beverage costs or the previous month’s losses. According to Partender, in just two days Brix had poured $7,500 in wine but had rung only $3,000.

The Science

Most wine in America is consumed by people over the age of forty. Sunset Beach has a median age in the young 40s and a median household income of $101,000. Brix, therefore, is situated in a prime wine consumption area. However, the largest demographic group in terms of wine sale growth is 25 to 34 year olds. In other words, Brix needs to also appeal to Millennials in order to succeed.

Wine bars don’t just sell bottles, they sell by the glass. The issue with a by-the-glass wine program is that you are essentially guaranteed to not sell a fourth glass out of a standard bottle. That equates to at least 25% waste. This waste is largely the result of the next science…

Oxidation of wine leads to waste. Once a wine bottle is uncorked, the process of oxidation begins. When the introduced oxygen combines with the naturally occurring bacteria found in grapes, it triggers a gradual conversion of alcohol into acedic acid, resulting in an unpleasant vinegar-like taste. An opened bottle of wine will typically last up to 3 days before the taste becomes undesirable.

The Result

Jon renovated Brix and renamed it Pacific Coast Wine Bar. The name is meant to both take advantage of the fact that the Pacific Coast is basically its own brand and to identify the venue more clearly with wine. Four weeks after relaunch, PCWB has generated $63, 514.80 in revenue and Rick has implemented systems that have set up his staff for success. Rick has become more focused on the bottom line than being the center of attention.

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