The Hooch is in Need of a Tune Up

This year, 6,500 failing bars nationwide will close their doors for good. If things don’t change soon, The Hooch in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, will become just another statistic. In 2003, husband and wife Ron and Chandra Phillips opened The Hooch. It was always Chandra’s dream to own a bar so when the bar came up for sale, she told her husband they were buying it. For the first 5 years, business at The Hooch was rolling in the fast lane. Chandra and Ron blame the economy in 2008 and 2009 for their bar failing. Ron took a job to help pay for The Hooch and he says that about 75% of his paycheck goes into the bar. With financial tensions mounting, Chandra’s drive to turn a profit burnt out. She also disrespects her staff, calling them all sorts of degrading names and encouraging trashy behavior behind the bar. As Chandra’s obnoxious behavior got worse, so did the staff’s attitude towards their jobs. As the staff’s behavior declined, so did the bar’s identity. And with an apathetic owner, standards also fell. Because the grill is behind the bar at The Hooch, Chandra expected the bartenders to cook the food, leading to inconsistent food quality. Now, in an effort to save her family from financial ruin, Chandra has agreed to pull pack the doors, bust open the books and make a call for help to Bar Rescue.

For the kitchen Jon Taffer brings in renowned food truck chef Keith Breedlove. With his skills creating masterful dishes with limited resources, Keith can prove to the staff that it doesn’t take an immense kitchen to make delicious cuisine. Keith points out that neither the sign nor the name of The Hooch indicate what they serve or what they’re about. For the bar Jon brings in expert bar trainer Lisamarie Joyce. With her approachable, or “warm,” mixology, she can turn any disorderly staff into inspired mixologists. For recon Jon sends in locals Brenna Houck, editor of Eater Detroit, and Serena Maria Daniels, dining editor of Detroit Metro Times. The spies are told upon taking a seat at the bar that the bar is out of a number of items. The staff is using novelty bar tools and just holding their hands over the tops of shakers to make drinks. None of the food is fresh and the staff doesn’t use gloves when handling food.

The Science

  • Have multiple entrances around your venue? Frame the main entrance and people will use it.
  • If a bottle of spirits has changed in appearance, it’s likely that there are bugs or animal feces inside of it. They ferment and then essentially create an entirely new liquor, one that isn’t fit for human consumption.
  • When mold spores are inhaled into the lungs, they settle into small cavities called alveoli. There, they begin to grow and release toxins into the body. Lung defense mechanisms usually suppress the growth of unwanted microorganisms by producing mucus in order to expel them. But the fungus has some unique properties that make it more difficult to expel. Continued effort to expel the fungus sends the lungs defenses into overdrive, causing excess mucus buildup and respiratory difficulty due to inflamed lungs and airways.

The Relaunch

The Hooch is rebranded as Proving Ground Bar & Grill, an homage to the 70,000 automotive engineers in Detroit. Proving Ground now has an automotive theme, complete with uniforms that match the concept. In 10 weeks, Proving Ground Bar & Grill has generated $22,692 in food and beverage sales.

To find out more about Bar Rescue episodes make sure to check out Spike TV.

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