One of my current favorite shows is “Bar Rescue” on Spike. I’ve been a fan of this show from the moment I saw it because almost my entire adult life, I’ve told people that not only could I open a bar/restaurant, but it would be the most amazing bar/restaurant in the history of bar/restaurants.
What I’ve learned: There are a lot of idiots like me out there. As George Carlin once said, “I have a lot of ideas. Trouble is, most of them suck.”
Sure, everybody who regularly spends time dining out or meeting up with friends for some drinks thinks they could run (Insert Bar Name Here) better than the people who are already doing it. But you can’t. Trust me. You want to know why? You think like a consumer. It’s OK. I do, too. Thinking like a consumer gives you a good idea of your standards, and helps you frame your opinions of what you like and don’t like about places.
Ordinarily, thinking like a consumer isn’t a bad idea, but when your ideas as a consumer are just counter-intuitive to common business sense, you become convinced that people are willing to invest a half-million dollars into your new concept bar based on that one episode of “The Golden Girls” where the girls take Dorothy to Mr. Ha-Ha’s Hot Dog Hacienda for her birthday. (That’s not a strip club, by the way.)
So as I was watching the weekly Sunday “Bar Rescue” marathon, I started thinking of reasons I’d be a really terrible bar/restaurant owner. So, in no particular order, I present to you “Top 5 Reasons I Should Be Responsible for Deploying Nuclear Weapons Before I Should Be Responsible for Running a Bar/Restaurant”:
1. Efficiency is a great idea … on paper.
I’m a self-appointed efficiency expert. Pretty sure there are actual state laws against pouring all drinks into 64 oz. Double Gulp cups. Well, I guess in most states, those are called “pitchers.” But pricing your pitchers at regular drink prices betting that people don’t finish them? MONEYMAKING. Jon Taffer just showed some graphs in this last episode that showed your biggest profit margin is on spirits, not beer, which tells me I’m not entirely crazy here, just a little … off. The money you’d spend on cleaning up Armageddon as it occurs nightly would probably erase that profit margin completely.
2. Fancy (or trendy) food is nice and all, but …
When I moved to Washington, D.C. in 2008, I was meeting up with someone for an overpriced Happy Hour where the menu included “small bites.” I paid something like $20 for, basically, some hand-crafted gourmet Vienna Sausages in miniature buns. Hot dogs. Urban hot dogs. Three of them. Three bites. $20. Because that’s stuck with me, my shop wouldn’t have too much in terms of a menu (unless it’s to throw everything in a deep fryer), but I’d have microwave stations everywhere with unlimited supplies of these.
3. There’s less than a second left, the game is tied, and your team is about to kick a field goal …
So why should’t every table have one of these hidden in the ketchup carousel? For just under $10, you can completely ruin someone’s Super Bowl. Everybody loves a good “HA!”, right? … Right? No? … OK. Well, conversely, what if you’re the only New York Islanders fan
anywhere in the bar? By some twist of beautiful fate, your game is the national game and available on regular ol’ cable, but the bartender hasn’t really responded to your pleas to change the channel from “Home Improvement” re-runs. Take charge. This is America.
4. Why NOT a nap room?
Maybe you’re having a rough week. Maybe you just came from a long day at work. Maybe you’ve just lost your job. Or, maybe you thought this was a sprint and not a marathon. But maybe all you need is just 30 minutes or so to refresh. I really don’t think this is a bad idea … on paper. Until you get to the part where you need to wake folks up.
5. Rental devices to help find that guy in your group who wanders off.
I can’t imagine how much of a financial hit a bar owner would take on these devices, but I’m telling you, it’s a great idea. Have you ever been out with a group of friends, and things are going along great, everybody’s having a good time, you’re laughing and carrying on, and … wait … where did he go? You start polling the table asking where he is, and by now, he’s halfway to Taco Bell while the rest of you start searching the streets. For a rental fee, you could outfit your wanderers with this. (The business fail comes from it never wandering back from whence it came …)
I’m willing to go Vegas odds that Jon Taffer won’t call me any time soon to tag along and help. Probably as soon as I started laying out my plan for a concept centered around inflatable bouncey houses, it would be over … my brush with greatness again slipping away.
But, let’s hear from you. What would you like to see in your restaurant or bar that’s completely unfeasible? The best worst idea ever, so to speak. (Jell-O Wrestling Wednesdays totally acceptable.)