Have you seen your bar on TV lately? Chances are, you joined the more than 1 million viewers who tuned into Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” each Sunday to watch NCB Media Group President Jon Taffer save a bar on the brink of disaster. The show finished its first season with far more fanfare and viewers than we even hoped for, garnering rave reviews and drawing a lot of attention to our business. Oh, and a second season.
So I have to ask, did you see yourself and your place in any of those episodes? If yes, you’re not alone; 95% of operators responding to the poll on nightclub.com said they saw themselves in an episode of “Bar Rescue.”
Maybe you recognized some things that you and your staff are doing — or not doing — and some areas of your operation that are crying out for an update or a sharpened focus. Did you watch an episode on Sunday night and go into your bar on Monday morning to analyze the number of steps your bartenders take to make a cocktail? Did you go into the kitchen and run a finger across the top of your vent hood or pull out an undercounter fridge, checking for grime and grit? Did you scrutinize your pour costs, your draft numbers, your walk-ins and your drink menu, looking for waste and lost opportunity? If so, I’d love to hear what you were inspired to inspect and change as a result of watching “Bar Rescue” — email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the bars and their stories changed with each episode, a few themes were undeniably consistent throughout the show’s first season:
- Cleanliness is required, from front- to back-of-house.
- Every drop counts, so account for every drop of liquid poured.
- Stale décor will stall sales.
- Know your clientele, and be clear about who you are, as well.
- Absentee or inattentive management or owners is a recipe for disaster.
Time and again, Jon Taffer demonstrated that bars fail when the owner or manager is not paying attention to the business. Are you committed to cleanliness, cost controls and sound management practices, not to mention the customer service, concept relevance and quality products that draw a crowd? If you communicate those priorities to the bartenders and staff — through words and actions and by holding them accountable — then the bar will succeed. If not, the bar is running itself, and you, into the ground.
This month, Taffer takes his show on the road with the NCB University Rescue Tour stops in Chicago (Oct. 4) and Philadelphia (Oct.18), with a stop in Long Beach, Calif. (Nov. 1). Here’s your chance to learn tried-and-true tactics for running your bar successfully.
The TV show is fun — your business is serious. Pay attention to your business and it will pay you back handsomely.
See you at the bar!