Sunday, February 19, 2012

Evaluating Bar Rescue or Corporate Pirates in Silver Spring

Just blocks from my house a reality show called Bar Rescue has commandeered the Piratz Tavern, a local bar with a pirate theme. I had only been to the Piratz Tavern once in my 4 year in Silver Spring and that was on a lark after with an entire wedding party still dressed in formal attire. Piratz Tavern didn't seem to be doing well based on what I heard from friends, yelp reviews give it 2.5 starzzz,  and I never paid it much attention. Of course until Bar Rescue came and took over the bar. I'm not the only one interested as my favorite local bloggers Thayer Ave and Silver Spring Singular  also are covering the story. The Piratz theme has been sacked and the new name appears to be Corporate Bar and Grill, see the local blog stories for pictures.

I will start this post by saying that I have now only watched one episode of Bar Rescue and spent less than an hours research on it but I thought I would report my findings. It's a blog post about a reality show that rescues bars so take everything with a grain of salt and a slice of lime.

The goal of this study was to see how successful the show Bar Rescue is at turning a failing bar into a beloved bar.

The theory. By injecting a large amount of money into a bar. Providing some buzz and  some improvement in technique that bars could be rescued.

Sample Selection Bias. Ideally the bars would have been randomly selected from a pool of similar bars and we could compare to a control group. That didn't happen the though the goal is to entertain not evaluate the Bar Rescuers. One problem with a show called bar rescue is that any bar featured would likely be in need of rescuing therefore we would expect some bars to fails. However,  it could also be that the show picks bars in placed likely to succeed so we might not be able to compare the selected bar to those not being rescued. Since I'm not trying to publish this study in an academic journal I'm not going to worry about it but will acknowledge the problem.

Data Sources: So far Bar Rescue has had 10 episodes featuring 10 bars. I used the name of the bars in google searches to find the following information. If the bar was still open and it's current Yelp Reviews. I used Yelp since it seems to be the largest source of these types of reviews and Yelp reviews do show economic impacts.

Results:  Of the 10 bars featured last season 7 are still open. I determined this by checking yelp and checking bar webpage or facecbook pages for updates in the last month. It appears the bars featured in episodes 102, 104, and 105 (see data source) are now closed.  Of the 7 still open bars 6 have 3 or 3.5 stars on Yelp and none of those 6 has consistently great recent reviews after the show. The seventh bar The Bone in Framingham, MA  has four stars on Yelp and some pretty good recent ratings.

Conclusions: The best case scenario is The Bone a four star Yelp bar. For comparison Silver Spring has two four star yelp bars (Jackie's Side Bar and Quarry House), which are also my two favorite local bars (not that my ratings matter). I'm doubtful, we will get the best case scenario.  Since The Bone tweaked the concept they had while the change from Piratz Tavern to Corporate Bar seems bigger change. In short I think if Corporate Bar and Grill survives we are likely to see a 3 to 3.5 star bar, which does serve it's purpose McGinty's is a 3 star Yelp bar and it serves its purpose and a fine pint too. So good luck to owners!

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PeaceinDC said...

So funny, Seth - this is your neighbor, Becca, on Thayer - you guys were absolutely awesome about welcoming us to the neighborhood. I just Googled to find out what the story was on this place when your blog popped up... I put two and two together. Maybe you, Gabe, Marie and I can all try it sometime and test the show's theory? =)

Matt DiDomenico said...

Clearly the bars are hand picked and I am certain there is quite a bit of acting going on here as it is very entertaining.

I find the "passionate" owners to be inept.

The have a failing business and want to hold on to what doesn't work in the first place.

We thrive on the sensational story and that is the real reason for these types of programs.

Much of what Jon Taffers says should be clearly evident to anyone with their eye on the business. Having said that the loss of true Passion for your job is the real deal here. Love what your doing. Many of these poor folks don't

Tpashwill said...

Good artical. I would imagine that they do pick bars with potential but are being mismanaged. A bar in the middle of the desert might be failing but no number of reality shows will save it lol.

The piratz bar owner was a nut. She was $900,000 in debt and was living with her husband and 17 year old daughter in her parents basement. Btw the $900,000 is just the bar debt there was no mention of her personal debt which I would imagine is also astronomical.

They came in and I was impressed with the make over. Taffer was right on the money with his analysis. They needed to grab the lunch and happy hour crowd from the nearby commuters. That is where their money will come from.

They did a great job rebranding and even took the time to retrain the staff who couldn't even speak like normal people. It would have been much easier to just bring in new people who are normal.

After the remake and reopen the owner bad mouthed the place to customers on opening night and after the show and a few days spent more money to make the place like it was. Needless to say they also returned to the silly pirate theme.

It is really sad that the lady who owns the place puts playing pirate over the welfare of her child. You know that kid will be a wreck. Very sad considering she had this wonderful opportunityy to turn her life and business around.

Also her husband was the chief and was super unstable and had no idea how to cook even the most basic foods. This episode is a perfect example of how some people are just not cut out for the real world and refuse to grow up. Very sad. It is a reflection of American society in a sense. People don't want to work hard and make tough decisions. They just all want to be a rapper or a basketball player or (in this case) a pirate.

It also makes you wonder who her lender is. What loan officer would approve these loans for a failing pirate bar with a reduculous owner/manager. It is amazing that these banks ever made any money.

PhillyTomcat said...

Just so you know, Downey's in episodes 102 is still in business as of 9/5/2012 , I live down the street from it !