Mac & Chester's SRO Could be a Swing and a Miss

This year over 6,500 failing bars nationwide will close their doors for good. If things don’t change soon, Mac & Chester’s SRO in Anoka, Minnesota will become just another statistic. In 2012 longtime friends Scott Mack and Todd Chester teamed up to buy Standing Room Only, known as SRO to the locals. The bar had been in operation since 1976. Scott and Todd were now sitting on a 23-acre property that housed 2 separate bars and 4 softball fields. Right off the bat, Mac & Chester’s SRO was a hit; the bar made $800,000 the first year it was under new ownership. Todd brought his wife Elise in to help run the bar. Elise manages day-to-day operations, from the schedule to payroll to scrubbing toilets. Although business is booming, Scott soon realized he had bitten off more than he could chew by getting into a partnership with Todd.

Unfortunately, Todd was always seen with a drink in his hand when he was at Mac & Chester’s SRO and he gave away a lot of things to his friends. Frustrated that he and Todd were not playing for the same team, Scott decided he could no longer be present at the main bar. Instead, Todd ran the main bar and restaurant and Scott ran the outdoor bar and softball fields. Soon, however, Todd’s antics began to affect Scott’s new position at the outside bar. Todd would allow his friends to do burnouts on outside tables with their motorcycles, jeopardize the safety of others by riding their motorcycles on the fields, and even set fire to the outside tables. As Todd’s friends rolled in, the players and their families rolled out.

Now, the bar is losing $6,000 a month. Struggling to cover their bases before time runs out, Scott, Todd and Elise have agreed to pull back the doors, bust open the books, and make a call for help to Bar Rescue.

Boulder Lodge in Anoka, MN - Spike TV's Bar Rescue 100th episode

Doing things a bit differently for the 100th episode of Bar Rescue (#BarRescue100), Jon Taffer has decided to have 2 of the show’s experts act as spies and do recon. Vic Vegas is a chef nationally known for transforming boilerplate restaurants into location destinations. Mia Mastroianni is recognized for her award-winning speed, accuracy and superior training techniques behind the bar. Together, these 2 experts can knock any food and beverage program right out of the park. Vic and Mia entered the main bar at Mac & Chester’s SRO, a 7,100 square-foot space grossing $108 per square foot in sales, $42 less per square foot than the required break-even point. The bar sits on a 23-acre property that includes 4 regulation-size softball fields and an additional outside bar. While performing their recon the 2 experts noticed that the bartenders didn’t return bottles to any set location and didn’t have enough inventory to make some of the signature cocktails. Additionally, the drinks had no balance and tasted terrible, and when Vic received the food he ordered he found a hair.

Things came to a head when Todd and his friends not only set an outside table ablaze but also set a motorcycle up on another table and performed a burnout. Jon confronted the apparently heavily intoxicated bar owner but the interaction quickly turned hostile and unproductive. The next day, after a meeting, Elise convinced Todd to stay away from the bar and instead sell real estate. Jon also decided to bring in more help to train the staff in the form of Bar Rescue expert Phil Wills. By the end of the episode, Jon spoke with Scott, Todd and Elise and proposed a floating note – a monthly payment that goes up and down according to revenue – so that Scott could sell his half of the business to Todd and Elise, with Elise running the bar.

The Science

  • Consistency is what sells cocktails and keeps your guests coming back for more.
  • If your bar is set up properly so that everything is in its place, bartenders won’t even need to look down to build drinks. Ease of use and a bar set up correctly means more efficient service, and more efficiency means more money.
  • Top-offs may seem like a courteous way to treat guests but it makes it hard to track alcohol and therefore can cost money in the long run.

The Relaunch

Jon transformed Mac & Chester’s SRO into Boulder Lodge, a uniform concept that will appeal to locals, families and tourists alike. He installed four 2TouchPOS terminals and a 16-head beer tap system, and also signed the bar up for a lifetime subscription to Partender and Taffer Virtual Training. Six weeks after the relaunch, Boulder Lodge has increased revenue by 38%, generating $126,270. Elise continues to manage while Todd treats the bar as a place of business and not his playground.

Boulder Lodge in Anoka, MN relaunch - Spike TV's Bar Rescue 100th episode

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