After decades of busting his way up from dishwasher to manager, Artie Coury opened his own bar as his retirement plan in 1998 and staffed it with his longtime friends including his friend Joey as manager. Artie strategically choose the name because everyone in Las Vegas needs an Alibi.
When Alibi first opened it was a big hit with the locals looking to get away from the tourist filled strip. The Alibi was making a profit of $500,000 over a year. With his business cruising along, Artie dived deeper into his passion for racing until a near fatal accident sidelined Artie and kept him away from the bar.
While Artie fought for his life, his staff turned the bar into a raunchy playground that drove customers away. Even with Artie unable to support the bar while he recovered Joey still didn’t have the powerto properly run the bar. When Artie finally returned instead of reigning in his vulgar staff he made the bar a monument to his glory days on the race track. But the racing theme only alienated his customers; mainly women.
With the Alibi spinning out of control, Artie has crashed into a debt of -$200,000. If Artie loses the Alibi he will lost everything. Out of desperation Artie has agreed to let Jon Taffer and his team help turn the bar around.
Las Vegas, Nevada. While Americas most playful city skews 55% male but just eight miles north of the strip lies Clark County; a unique pockets that skews 51% female between the ages of 31-49, making it the most female concentrated area in Nevada. But the Alibi, with its motor sports theme, fails to flag down any women.
To make matters worse they are advertising Bloody Mary’s for $2 on the sign outside the bar. When people see deep discounts on drinks they immediately think low quality and poor service. Therefore, potential customers head down the street to get the $7 Bloody Mary because they know the product will be better.
For the recon Taffer sends in two different sets of people (two men and two women) in order to see how the different sexes perceive the bar. The Alibi is a 4,000 square foot space with a hook bar that contains two speed wells, twelve beers on tap a large wooden display case and a kitchen in the back. Upon arrival at the bar the men are immediately taken care of and the women at the other end of the bar wait for service.
Joey finally goes over to the girls that have been sitting at the bar for over ten minutes without any service. The female customers continue to become more and more uncomfortable with the antics that are taking place in the bar. The bartenders are clearly drinking at the bar; they don’t even remotely try to hide it. Artie even confronts one of the bartenders stating that she has had too much to drink and needs to go sober up.
The female bartenders are a terrible representation of women behind the bar. They are playing with a blow up doll and their language is offensive not only to the female customers but the male customers as well. The owner also made very inappropriate sexual comments to the female guests.
Artie admits that the bar is broken and he has a hard time coming down on his staff because of the relationship that he has with them. He also knows that something needs to change but hasn’t made any strides in the right direction.
Taffer and his team get to work noticing that there is far too much stuff behind the bar; infringing upon guest interaction and staff efficiency. There is a bunch of beer sitting in exported ice and the question arises on how often the ice is burned. The bartenders admit that they never clean the ice coolers. People think that ice stops bacteria but it doesn’t. Taffer tells them that when the ice is burned down the sludge that is left behind are bacteria. If not cleaned on a regular basis once you touch the beer bottle that’s sitting in the bacteria infested ice you end up transferring the bacteria to other surfaces that you touch.
Things don’t get much better in the kitchen. All of the appliances are covered in grease creating a fire hazard. Taffer scrapes bacteria off of the cutting boards and Nick continues to find one sanitary violations after another. During the stress test one third of the steaks that came out were sent back. In addition, the management was comping the steaks which they shouldn’t have been doing. Instead they should have been providing a complimentary drink. The drink only costs them 80 cents while the steak costs them $6.
To save the bar from crashing and burning Taffer brings in Nick Liberato to rescue the kitchen. Nick’s extensive culinary background can elevate basic bar food to sophisticated fare. For the bar Taffer brings in Mia Mastroianni, the head mixologist for the world famous SoHo House in Los Angeles. With her expertise catering toward female clientele, Mia is the perfect specialist to incorporate the feminine touch this bar needs.
Mia starts working with the bartenders by assessing their skills. She has two bartenders make a dirty martini. Not only do they two drinks look completely different, they were both shaken. Martini’s without citrus are supposed to be stirred not shaken. The classic dirty vodka martini contains 1.5 ounces of vodka, a splash of dry vermouth and a splash of olive juice. 007 ordered his martini shaken not stirred but what he was actually getting was a watered down cocktail. That’s because the greater force from shaking causes the ice to melt faster thereby diluting the drink 1.75 times more than a stirred cocktail. Mia continues to train the bartenders with the use of bar tools. This will help them to keep their cocktails consistent.
In the kitchen, Nick gives the cooks a lesson in steak. By adding a little salt, pepper and olive oil to the steak and cooking it in a little butter and garlic adds more flavor. For the new menu Nick wants to create finger foods that are easy to eat and share for guests dining at the bar. Things like turkey meatballs and fresh produce will attract the female clientele and they won’t feel guilty about eating them.
As the training continues Taffer meets with Nick and Mia to discuss the new female friendly theme. A cougar bar is a place where single women in their mid-thirties hang out. When the men learn that the women are there they come as well. As a woman the only place in the area that you can go is the strip and local women would prefer to stay in the area, away from the strip. Women want a nice lounge; someplace you can go with your girlfriends and have a ladies night.
The Garnet Lounge is all about women. Textures and patterns are appealing to women and can make a room look bigger than it is; color alone doesn’t achieve that. They added premium bottle displays and eliminated the cluttered wooden structures that obstructed guest interactions.
The relaunch was the start of a bright future for the bar and the staff. Joey and Artie have a renewed drive to succeed and the staff is putting out quality products. Six weeks after the relaunch the Garnet Lounge has attracted a new group of female customers and sales have increases by 20%. Trixie the blow up doll no longer makes appearances at the bar. The best bars treat their customers with dignity, consistency and class.