Bar Rescue: Win Place and Show in Fairfield, OH

My initial reaction as a designer to the front of the building is that it’s got a great deck, great view, but the signage is terrible. It’s not well done, and then name of the place is a little too wordy. Located in Fairfield, Ohio, a small town north of Cincinnati, Win Place and Show, owned by Barry Rogers and Rudy Garcia faces problems... lots of them. Who better to help them, then Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue.

Some of the problems Win Place and Show face include a poor menu, flat beer, and horrible branding. They opened the bar using the same name of a sister bar in the area and instead of opening it with a bang, they opened with a whimper. In order to set the tone of a new establishment “you don’t open a bar, you LAUNCH a bar” says Jon Taffer which ultimately was the first major mistake the owners made.  

In addition, food costs were 52% of their total costs. Beverage costs were 32% and they lost $65,000 last year! Currently the bar is losing on average $8,000 per month so every penny counts in food costs and beverage costs.

It’s amazing to see Jon in action. As our boss, he’s always so motivating and I don’t think anything of it because I’m around him so often. But to watch how the staff of Win Place and Show reacts to him is special. You can see how much he’s already impacted them. They’re motivated and really seem to want to make a change for their boss and to be successful. He has a knack for getting you to agree to just about anything and that’s contagious. In a good way. The owners of Win Place or Show, Barry Rogers and Rudy Garcia seem to be earnest in their desire to listen to him... at least at this point.

Despite Jon’s presence and inspirational talk, Rudy decided to ask for a release from his share of the business as his true love is music.  Amber Glacken step up to the plate and decides to invested 11 thousand of her own money into the business and become the manager of the bar once Rudy steps aside. Her faith in the bar, her staff and Barry made the decision that much easier. Everyone on the staff seems to love Amber and her dedication to the bar. They respect her and this is where the turnaround begins.

Master Mixologist Jason Bran from Diageo worked with the bartenders on technique, recipes and attitude. They focus on Whiskey, the national drink of America, and begin preparing a menu that makes sense and big bucks for the bar and bartenders.  

Chef Aaron McCargo takes charge in the kitchen and works with the staff on minimizing the amount of waste they produce in order to keep the bottom line under control. They work on introducing an all American menu based on three letters. BBQ. Chef McCargo brought in an electronic smoker to help make meats, poultries and sausages as tender and flavorful as possible. Using four styles of BBQ: Memphis (dry rub), Texas (briquette and ribs), South Carolina and Kansas City, he hopes to take people back to the roots of America.

In the background the gang from TurboTap was installing a brand new beer system to eliminate the flat beer and excess foam. The kegs were located in the basement and without pumps, needed a 60/40 mix of CO2 and Nitrogen. This pushed the beer so quickly through the tubes that it lost all carbonation. With a TurboTap system, which uses only CO2 and beer pumps, the beer will come out perfect every time.

What I really enjoyed about this experience was the chance to watch Nancy Hadley, the show’s designer, work her magic. She and Jon would pow-wow about what he had in mind for the bar, and it was up to her to make that vision a reality. Hadley and her design crew had a huge challenge in front of them with a massive back-bar that they wanted to build, which also included a giant metal eagle that represented the Navy that Barry Rogers served so faithfully.

Nancy knows what she’s doing and went to work on this eagle with large pieces of stainless Steel metal and an arc-welder. She first sketched out the wings of the eagle on the metal and then went about cutting the outline of it out with the arc-welder. I got to experience first-hand how hard it is to work in that medium.

Overall, I loved my experience and know that the new bar has been set up for success!