George & Dragon in Arizona May Soon be Slayed

This year 6,500 failing bars nationwide will close their doors for good. If things don’t change soon, George & Dragon in Phoenix, Arizona will become just another statistic. In 1995 Englishman David Wimberley decided to move to Phoenix and open an English pub. For additional help, David brought his brother Tony on board to manage the bar. As the first English pub in Arizona the George & Dragon was an immediate success. In the bar’s best year, David estimated that the business generated $1.9 million. However, he also said that it hasn’t been fun to operate the pub for the last 5 or 6 years. For one thing, David and Tony’s mother passed away a few years ago, and David’s passion seemed to have left with her. Another problem, as Tony sees it, is that nothing about the pub has changed in over 20 years. As the bar fell further into disrepair, David’s focus turned to socializing rather than improving the business. According to his bartenders, David is at the George & Dragon 4 out of 7 days a week to play poker. Of course, those with whom he plays poker aren’t drinking, so that’s square footage that isn’t generating any revenue. Now, losing $5,000 a month and $700,000 in debt, the 21-year-old bar is months from closing its doors for good. Before the George & Dragon takes its last breath, David has agreed to pull back the doors, bust open the books, and make a call for help to Bar Rescue.

George & Dragon English pub before - Spike TV's Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer

For the bar, Jon Taffer brought in mixologist Phil Wills, whose talent for crafting fresh and vibrant cocktails can revitalize any bar’s drinks menu. For the kitchen, nationally recognized Irish chef Gavan Murphy has extensive knowledge of British pubs. Combined, these experts can breathe new life into this pub’s food and beverage program. Mountain Man Jay, a local radio DJ, and Jill Bryan, a local comedian, acted as Jon’s spies. The spies entered George & Dragon, a 4,900-square-foot space grossing sales of $276 per square foot, $10 less than the required break-even point. The bartenders didn’t seem to smile much, drinks were both under- and over-poured, and the kitchen was absolutely filthy. David was playing poker with people who didn’t appear to be ordering beer or cocktails during Jon’s recon.

George & Dragon English pub break even - Spike TV's Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer

The Sciences

  • Making drinks that are too strong may seem like a good way to impress guests but it’s irresponsible. It’s also unprofitable because it means you likely won’t sell another drink.
  • Conversely, a drink poured in a glass that’s too large can give a guest the perception that they’ve been given a weak cocktail.
  • Bartending 101: When pouring spirits, count 1 second for every quarter of an ounce.

The Relaunch

Jon chose to keep the name of the pub after doing some research and learning that the pub had a good reputation. Instead, Jon updated the exterior and interior and added 15 new seats, worth approximately $10,000 each per year. Six weeks after the relaunch, sales are up 50% across the board.

George & Dragon English pub after - Spike TV's Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer

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