In 2012, Vin Durand and his wife Vanessa Santos opened up Heat Restaurant & Lounge in Hollywood, Florida. When the bar first opened, business was going very well - raking in $10-15 thousand a week. Unfortunately, Vin and Vanessa’s success was short-lived in the highly competitive market of Downtown Hollywood. As the business plummeted, Vin’s bright idea was to slash prices.
The discounted drink specials brought in a customer base that expected everything for free. The more the owners gave away, the less tips bartenders made resulting in a last ditch effort for them to dance for their money. In an attempt to turn things around, the owners hired Vanessa’s 23 year old sister Samantha as the general manager who is immediately overwhelmed with the out of control staff.
Vin and Vanessa’s desperate discounts intended to turn business around has actually left them with an unruly staff, a free-loading clientele and a strip club-like atmosphere. Now, $230,000 in debt and losing $5,000 a month, Vin and Vanessa have more than just their money on the line. For the sake of their daughter and their business, they have agreed to make a
call for help.
Heat Restaurant & Lounge has many problems. And it all starts with the name. Heat is neither restaurant nor lounge. With no food or cocktail menu and the ambiance of a tacky strip club, Heat is falsely advertising what they offer. Instead they need to clean up their act and redefine themselves as a true nightclub.
In order for a nightclub to make money, they must attract female customers. Which, of course, Heat doesn’t do with their go-go dance moves by the staff. No female is going to want to sit amongst chaos, cutting their profitability in half if not more.
Trying to contain the staffs’ foolish and promiscuous behavior, Samantha is completely overlooked as the general manager. The bartenders actively ignore her which perpetuates the problems and the bar to spin out of control. Between the dancing, drinking and fighting that goes on internally at Heat, things need to change and fast.
Vin and Vanessa allow their staff to give away an absurd amount of free drinks. Taffer concluded that in just three days over $11,000 in liquor profits was given away. There is also a standard in place where if you come in with parties of six or more, you get a free bottle; stifling any potential profits to be made off the patrons.
Bottle service becomes effective when the profit per bottle exceeds the amount that each drink would make if sold individually. Bars typically use one liter bottles to serve customers and a one liter bottle yields approximately 22 one and a half ounce drinks. If the average drink costs $10, in order to make a profit off of bottle service, bars and nightclubs would need to serve each bottle for more than $220. And Heat is giving them away from free!
Stressing the importance of consistency in cocktails, master mixologist Phil Wills, teaches the bartenders basic techniques that will help them create delicious drinks, quickly. However, getting the staffs inappropriate behavior under control is the most challenging aspect of making sure that bar succeeds.
Therefore, Isabelle, the most unruly bartender who constantly drinks behind the bar and causes unnecessary problems was finally fired by Vin. Once Isabelle was let go the rest of the staff realizes how detrimental their behavior has been to the business and that they could be the next to go if they don’t start acting appropriately.
Another key aspect of turning around the bar is utilizing the unused kitchen. Chef Jamika Pessoa was brought to create some spectacular dishes that will keep patrons longer. Implementing a ‘hapas’ food program - tapas program focused on happy hour – will help to increase revenue. Chef Pessoa also teaches Vin and Vanessa the essentials to running a successful kitchen and also brings in a cook who will help to amplify their business.
The owners guarantee they are finished giving away liquor and pouring their profits down the drain. With Taffer’s guidance, they plan to elevate the behavior, food and drink at their bar. In order to do this, Samantha was promoted to full partner of Heat and her word is law when it comes to employees.
Taffer decided to play off the different demographics of Hollywood, Florida and came up with a concept that will work from happy hour to dinner and throughout the night.
Heat Restaurant & Lounge the male friendly strip club was transformed into Ele – a chic restaurant and nightclub fit for any respectable customer. The black and grey colors on the outside were replaced with bright colors for an inviting appearance. The stripper poles were at long last removed and Taffer added elevated seating allowing potential patrons to see customers from the street; helping to drawn them to the door.
Six weeks after relaunch, late night sales have gone up 30%, happy hour sales have gone up 100% and the waitresses have found they can make money without dancing on a pole.