This year 6,500 failing bars nationwide will close their doors for good. If things don’t change soon, Van Goghz in St. Louis, Missouri will become just another statistic. In 2013 former bartender Dani Davis bought Van Goghz Martini Bar & Bistro. For the first 6 months, the bar performed well under Dani’s ownership. But soon Dani realized she was unprepared for the challenges of transitioning from bartender to bar owner. Overwhelmed by the running costs of operating a bar and lacking the knowledge to get her finances back on track, Dani’s profits and patience quickly diminished.
Now, losing $2,500 a month, Dani is struggling to dig herself out. Her total debt is $250,000. As the business continues to hemorrhage cash, Van Goghz is only 6 months away from closing down. In a desperate attempt to save the business, Dani has 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. Her 15 years’ experience creating fresh farm to table dishes combined with her unique understanding of creatively driven marketplaces can turn any faded menu into a work of art. For the bar, Jon brings in mixologist and St. Louis native Lisamarie Joyce. Her firsthand knowledge of the area and picture perfect training techniques will allow her to inspire any tired bar staff and design an innovative beverage program sure to draw a crowd.
Jon chooses 2 mixologists to perform recon, one with 18 years’ experience and one with 7 years’ experience. The spies enter Van Goghz, a 2,500 square-foot martini bar grossing $105 per square foot in sales, $45 less than the industry’s break-even point of $150 per square foot. The spies ordered martinis and the bartender shook each one, regardless of the fact that they were not clear. In addition to poor technique, poor flavor accompanied the spies’ orders. Once Jon entered Van Goghz with his experts it became clear that the cleanliness of the venue (Dani’s dog was wandering around, which is illegal) and morale were both problems.
- You may have noticed that the word “mixology” isn’t being used by as many venues as it once was. This is due to perception that hurts many venues. Many potential guests believe that bars identifying themselves as mixology venues are more expensive and take longer to produce orders.
- Sight lines pull in guests. Keep sight lines clear and use them to deliver an irresistible wow factor.
Van Goghz Martini Bar & Bistro is now Crafted. Dani’s family is in the sausage business so the menu features their products. The cocktail program is centered around French press beverages, allowing guests to participate in the infusion of their orders. Six weeks after the relaunch, Crafted has experienced a 40% increase in sales, translating to a gross of $58,800 in food and beverage.