Twelve miles north of Manhattan is the city of Yonkers, the second fastest growing market in the state of New York. Yonkers is divided into two vastly different economic parts; South Yonkers has an average household income of $28,000 whereas North Yonkers is $51,000. Straddling the line of North and South Yonkers lies failing Undisputed Sports Bar & Grill.
In 2009, former boxer Miguel Torres partnered up with his lifelong friend and boxing teammate, Brian O’Shea and put $50,000 into their bar. At first the bar’s boxing theme drew people in; Undisputed was making up to $50,000 a month.
Brian became intoxicated by the bar’s early success and started using Undisputed as his own personal party ring. Over time, standards and security dropped and the Undisputed friendly, sports crowd left for safer bars. Faced with a deteriorating bar, an uninspired staff and a lifelong friendship against the ropes, Miguel and Brian find themselves $120,000 in debt and on the verge of getting knocked out.
“The only undisputed thing about this bar is that it sucks,” Jon Taffer assures his recon staff after staking out Undisputed Sports Bar & Grill.
The cook, Marcos, does not have proper training and does not know how to properly handle food. During the recon, the refrigerator was open for several minutes which cause temperatures to drop 15-20 degrees. Refrigerators should be kept at 40 degrees; Marcos had his at 60 which is extremely unsafe for customers.
Behind the bar Taffer and his team discovered that management at Undisputed has poured cheaper liquors into premium spirit bottles. This is the type of act of deception that gets liquor licenses revoked and bars shut down.
The clientele at Undisputed Sports Bar & Grill shifted from young professionals from Manhattan to disrespectful thugs. The bar is dangerous and employees have actually quit because they did not feel safe at work. A higher standard must be held with security or this bar does not stand a chance.
Brian’s behavior is detrimental to the business; while he is at the bar more often than other employees, he stands at the end of the bar drinking excessively which causes problems with Miguel and other staff members. Miguel and Brian constantly fight and there is a complete lack of communication at Undisputed Sports Bar & Grill which creates a toxic environment for guests and staff alike. There is no leadership, no respect or dignity and ultimately no safety.
Undisputed has a good staff filled with good people, the problem is they lack systems. Marcos needs to be trained in the kitchen and the cocktail menu needs to be much more sophisticated.
Taffer brings in Nightclub & Bar’s 2012 Bartender of the Year Russell Davis to train the bartenders and come up with cocktails that will appeal to a more professional crowd. Davis also informed the staff that fresh vermouth will change the flavor of a classic cocktail and the treatment of it matters. When opened, vermouth should only be kept for about one week. The staff is extremely enthusiastic about the new cocktails and the opportunity for new customers.
Chef Aaron McCargo comes in to train Marcos in the kitchen. Marcos had previously pushed chicken wings from the kitchen that were raw; so McCargo taught him about the blanching process. Blanching is immersing wings for a few minutes in hot oil in order to keep the fatty skin from turning raw and rubbery to semi-cooked and firm without cooking the chicken all the way through. This allows the skin to crisp without over-cooking the inside.
In addition to the training behind the bar and in the kitchen, three security guards were brought in to keep the bar safe. Thorough door checks are to be performed at the entrance and the dress code will be enforced in order to displace the thugs and replace them with young professionals.
Taffer then takes on his largest problem at Undisputed, Miguel and Brian. In order to get then to communicate Taffer takes the owners to the boxing gym. The two take their aggression and frustrations out in the ring. This bonding experience was used as a reminder of why they became partners in the first place.
Taffer then took the dark exterior of Undisputed and turned it into a brightly lit, welcoming business in order to keep the thugs out. A new draft beer system, $90,000 of refrigeration and 3 POS systems were put into the newly renamed SOYO for South Yonkers.
The staff is thrilled with both the exterior and interior of SOYO and as they chant the name of their bar, this team is ready to reopen. During the relaunch, communication was phenomenal between all staff members and six weeks later, SoYo has turned into the hottest spot in Yonkers. The bar has attracted the correct crowd who are happy and comfortable during their stay. Brian and Miguel have continued to support each other and they are working as one.