In 2010, entrepreneur Bryan and wife Michelle discovered their favorite hangout, Scoreboard in Norwalk, California, was up for sale. Michelle’s father, Larry, owned the building and lent the couple $300,000 to purchase the business. Norwalk has a dominant Hispanic population with an average income of $54,000 which is $3,000 above the national average and the median age is 32.
At first sales were high so Bryan left Michelle to run the business. Despite her degree in management, Michelle ignored any problems that arose such as unclean or broken equipment. Scoreboard quickly lost points with customers, revenues dropped and Michelle and Bryan stopped paying her dad back on loans and rent.
Despite Bryan taking on handy man and construction work at the bar in order to cover the bills, the couple found themselves over $364,000 in debt.
For the recon, Taffer brought in television personality Maria Menounos and her fiance, Kevin Undergaro, the executive producer of Afterbuzz TV. Now obviously, you want to treat every customer like a star, but when you have actual stars in your establishment, they have the power to get people through the door if they like your food or drink. Unfortunately, the food was uncooked, the drinks were completely wrong and the celebrity guests were not pleased. Taffer had to get in there before his friends get sick from the poor quality of food and drink.
After the assessing Scoreboard, Taffer jumps in and tells them the rescue will not happen unless the bar is clean when he comes back tomorrow. The next morning, to his pleasure, the staff did a great job scrubbing the filth clean and throwing out any unusable products. It is time to get to work.
Training begins behind the bar with expert mixologist Mia Mastroianni. Mastroianni teaches the staff basic bartending techniques and comes up with a beverage menu that will work for their customer base. There is a large Hispanic population in the area, so naturally many tequila cocktails were incorporated.
Professional Chef Anthony Lamas was brought in to train the staff in the kitchen. Employee Cory stepped up to be extensively trained in the kitchen along with Michelle so she can learn the ins and outs of her business. Cory caught on quickly and was eager to learn. Michelle remained timid, yet caught on as the day went on. The food menu Lamas came up with, again, plays off of the Hispanic citizens in the area with spicy foods. The active ingredient that makes peppers spicy triggers pain and burn receptors in the tongue; common sense tells you to reach for water. However, water only spreads the ingredient around in your mouth; the best ways to ease the burn is milk or alcohol. As your bar most likely will not be serving milk, the customer will need a cocktail hence why spicy foods often drive sales in bars and restaurants.
Owner Bryan and head bartender Robert get sent to Mexico to get fully oriented with one of the best tequilas in the world at the Don Julio Distillery. The two come back with a better understanding of the spirit and an appreciation for the process in which it is made.
After carefully deciding on a concept for Scoreboard, Taffer decides to stick with the Hispanic theme and rename the bar Agave Junction Cantina. The sign for Scoreboard has a white backdrop and by inverting these colors with a dark background and colorful lettering, Taffer made the sign noticeable from all the way down the road. A red treatment was done to the roof so that people’s eyes are directly drawn to the door.
Because the bar is long and thin, Taffer came up with a railroad box car theme, a tequila express, if you will. As for the interior, as opposed to a white space, Taffer made the walls a darker brown; bars need to be intimate and dark colors give off that vibe. An extra POS was put in behind the bar and the soda gun was professionally cleaned.
During the relaunch, Maria Menounos and Kevin Undergaro were suprised to see the staff at Agave Junction Cantina turn it around so quickly; they thoroughly enjoyed their potatoe skins this time around. With the managers behaving like managers and the staff trained up, Agave Junction Cantina has turned into a success. Since the Rescue, food sales are up over 50 percent and tequila sales have more than tripled. Michelle and Bryan have paid Larry rent for the first time in eight months and they are well on their way to chipping away at the $364,000 debt.