Freaked Out at the Freaki Tiki Bar

This year, 6,500 failing bars nationwide will close their doors for good. If things don’t change soon, the Freaki Tiki in Clearwater, Florida will become just another statistic. In 2008, Frank Theriault bought the Freaki Tiki Bar, letting long-time friend Shawn Trimpe invest in exchange for a 2.5% stake in the business. The bar was successful at first, grossing $1,000,000 the fifth year in business. With things looking great, Frank and Shawn brought on their friend Woody to manage the bar. High on their own success, the owners started joining in on the party to keep their loyal customers happy. With the bar being treated like a frat house, maintenance fell to the wayside. As manager Woody puts it, their kitchen is “MacGyver” rigged. The sinks and drains have leaks and the bar has a plumbing problem affecting the bathrooms. Soon the bar was in such disrepair that no amount of free booze could keep the customers from calling it quits on the Freaki Tiki. Now, with the business losing $6,500 a month and in the hole $500,000, Frank is struggling to dig himself out. In a desperate attempt to save the business, Frank, Shawn and Woody have agreed to pull back the doors, bust open the books, and make a call for help to Bar Rescue.

Tracy, Juciano and Zoe - Piratz Tavern - Spike TV"s Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer

For the kitchen, Chef Ryan Scott brought his signature flair to crowd-pleasing favorites that are heavy on taste and value. As for the bar, Jon brought in mixologist and trainer Mia Mastroianni for her ability to craft vibrant cocktails and energize and tired bar staff. Tracy and Juciano from the infamous Piratz Tavern, along with daughter Zoe, played the roles of spies for Jon.

Freaki Tiki break-even point - Spike TV"s Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer

They entered the Freaki Tiki, a 3,410 square-foot space grossing $17 per square foot in sales, $133 less than the required break-even point of $150 per square foot. Shawn over-poured the spies’ drinks and it was discovered that there were no fresh fruits for garnishes. In addition, Mia pointed out that Freaki Tiki doesn’t use fresh ingredients for flavor, they rely on the artificial flavors of flavored spirits. Jon, Ryan and Mia watched the chef cross contaminate food, and Ryan later discovered thousands of dollars of food filling freezers and refrigerators. Of course, none of the food had dates on it. However, the most horrific moment during this episode was Mia inspecting the bar itself. Not only did Mia find that the bar was filthy and discover incredibly old bars in coolers, she found a used condom behind the bar.

The Science

  • Green lighting is not flattering to people or food, negatively impacting a bar’s or nightclub’s visual appeal and atmosphere.
  • Rather than rely on artificially flavored spirits, use just one or two spirits when building a cocktail and then use fresh ingredients to impart flavor. Not only does this make cocktails with superior flavors, it keeps costs down.
  • Presentation and cocktails go hand in hand. Garnishes increase the perceived value of a cocktail.
  • Halo signs make a venue’s name pop and help for it to be easily read from a great distance.

The Relaunch

Freaki Tiki is relaunched as sports bar Frankie T’s. Not just a sports bar, Frankie T’s is a sporting bar, a place where guests can watch sports and play games like darts and foosball. The exterior and interior received major overhauls, including the use of a halo sign outside. Unfortunately, eight weeks after the relaunch, food and beverage sales are down 29 percent. The owners blame the emergence of bigger sports bars in the area for their low sales but the staff continues to uphold standards and trust that things will turn around.

Freaki Tiki transformed into Frankie T's - Spike TV"s Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer

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