After over a decade of performing in various bars and music venues all over Chicago, musician Lonie Walker decided to open a music venue of her own and in 1989 she opened the Underground Wonderbar. Lonie ran the bar successfully in the same location for over 20 years but in 2011 she was forced to move out when the building was sold for a city development project.
After borrowing over $360,000 from family and friends, Lonie was able to move the bar into the high rent district in River North Chicago. Now, The Underground Wonderbar is losing $4,000 a month. Unable to adapt to the new clientele and unwilling to change, Lonie is left with an underutilized space, an uninspired staff and a load of debt, totaling $515,000.
The Underground Wonderbar does not appeal to its marketplace whatsoever. Lonie is extremely stubborn; she insists on being a performer every night. Unfortunately, she does not have the best singing voice and she is dead set on the type of music she performs, which is not what the demographic is looking to listen to. Lonie is delusional when it comes to how her bar should be run. She is stuck in the past and makes guests feel mildly uncomfortable with her eccentric musical acts. However, Lonie’s son and bartender shows real promise.
To turn the bar around Taffer painted the front white and changes the name of the bar. He also appoints Jordan as the manager. Taffer brought in restaurant owner, Chef Pink and Russell Davis to train the staff. The Underground Wonderbar was transformed into clear bar, a chic establishment with a sophisticated look. The sound system was redone so the noise of upstairs does not bleed below. Despite her dislike of the name, Lonie is impressed with the overall product of what Taffer put together.
Guests are impressed with the young modern feel of clear bar. Six weeks after relaunch food and drink sales are up 35% however Lonie took the clear bar sign down days after Jon left and she claims “Wonder will live on forever.”
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