Park 77 is Behind the 8-Ball

The Basso family listening to Jon Taffer.

In 2011, Tano Basso, an electrician with a family history in the bar and restaurant business decided to buy a bar of his own. For funding, he turned to his older brother Wayne and to help run the bar, Tano brought in his two nephews, Tommy and Angelo Basso, each with an equal 25-percent share. With a coveted location right next to San Francisco State University, Park 77 was successful at first. But since Tano and Tommy both owned other businesses, responsibility for day-to-day management of the bar fell onto young and inexperienced Angelo. And as Angelo’s behavior spiraled out of control, so did his management decisions. Although Tano and Tommy wanted to get rid of Angelo, Wayne wouldn’t let that happen. Before dysfunction tears this family apart, Tano has agreed to pull back the doors, bust open the books and make the call for help to Bar Rescue.

Park 77 is a 4,500 square-foot space featuring a bar, 4 pool tables and a large outdoor patio. The bar is located in the neighborhood of Parkmerced, San Francisco, south of San Francisco State University. While it should be a thriving business, drawing from the over 30,000 students attending SFSU, Bar Rescue recon showed that there were neither college students nor women inside Park 77. This is due in part to an unattractive sign that bar expert Russell Davis noted looked as though it had been scribbled by a child, an uninviting, underutilized patio which could be seen from the street and an incident involving an adult film being shot on-premise during business hours in front of guests which drove those customers away. Add to that the drunken mismanagement of Park 77 by Angelo and the Basso family found themselves $188,000 in debt.

After deciding that the bar would be better managed by a third-party bar manager, Tommy Basso agreed to run the day-to-day operations. The Basso family realized that young Angelo had not been properly trained and guided during the three-and-a-half years Park 77 had been open. Part of Tommy’s management duties would be giving Angelo the training and help he needed to learn how to run the bar.

History Lesson

When Jon Taffer revealed the newly renovated and rebranded Park 77, it had been renamed as The Lister. As Dr. Frederic Lister Burk was the founder and first president of San Francisco State University, this renaming is intended to appeal to the students and community. Along with the rename came an attractive sign that pops from the street, drawing in guests and giving the perception of a sophisticated, contemporary feel.

As Russell noted during the recon, The bar staff had no idea how to make a Mai Tai, nor did they know the origin of the classic rum-based cocktail. The bar expert pointed out that the Mai Tai was created at Trader Vic’s in Oakland, CA, making it a true Bay Area original. He then trained the bar staff in building this tiki cocktail properly, noting that a Mai Tai should always be amber in hue and that a red variant is a dead giveaway that something has gone wrong.

The Science

San Francisco State University has a demographic breakdown of 56.6 percent female students and 43.4 percent male students. The target demographic for The Lister is women between the ages of 21 and 27. To attract women under the age of 27, there is one element that is absolutely critical: a dancefloor. When Park 77 underwent renovation, a dancefloor was added.

Bars are all about social interaction. A Jon Taffer creation, the Butt Funnel is an incredibly effective way of forcing patrons to interact. A strategically placed Butt Funnel features an opening only 30 inches wide, creating a situation in which guests attempting to pass through must face each other, make eye contact and sometimes brush against one another. In a Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue first, The Lister features a triple Butt Funnel, taking advantage of the size of the space and new dancefloor. The science is simple: bars with social interaction make money.

Finally, Russell Davis introduced the staff of The Lister to amaro. Amaro, Italian for “bitter,” is an Italian liqueur known for its herbal qualities and bitter-sweet flavor. It is typically made from a secret blend of herbs, roots, flowers and citrus and can be added to cocktails to lend a bitter element or enjoyed neat as a digestif.

The Result

During the relaunch of The Lister, Jon Taffer noticed the crowd was made up of approximately 65 percent women, aged 21 to 28. Angelo was sober and he, Tano and Tommy were far more organized than they had been during the disastrous and telling stress test earlier in the week. Six weeks after the relaunch, revenue is up 20% with The Lister ringing $73,589 to the good in just a month and a half.

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