Bar Rescue - The Tradewinds - OPEN

The Tradewinds Bar Rescue

In this episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer visits The Tradewinds in Cotati, California.

The Tradewinds was originally owned by car salesman Dan Thompson and family friend Eric Loria, who has experience in auto finance.

Dan was very successful in car sales and thought a bar would allow him more time to spend with his family.

Dan brought in stepson Chase to manage the bar because of his prior experience in the bar industry.

He is negligent and irresponsible, often missing and fails to keep on top of inventory so they often run out of beer.

The Tradewinds is in a prime location in Sonoma Wine Country and is located in a university town but they don’t attract students to the bar.

Sales have declined and they are now in over $300,000 of debt and within months of closing.

Jon arrives at the bar with mixologist Rob Floyd and culinary expert Michael Ferraro.

Both the exterior and interior of the bar are dated and there is no correlation between the name and theme of the bar.

Dan and Eric each have 40% shares of the business putting in $150,000 each, with Chase given 20% as ‘sweat’ equity for the work he does at the bar.

Jon meets Dan and Eric but Chase hasn't turned up and they call him with no response.

Chase's mother Traci is the cook and sits at the bar waiting for customers to arrive.

Chase arrives later and is greeted by cheers for finally turning up to the bar.

Jon orchestrates a mini stress test and 75 students come in on a bar crawl.

There is an unused shuttle bus at the back, a missed opportunity.

The service he witnesses is a disaster - the beer system is faulty and the beer is served warm and foamy.

The POS system is dated and crashes constantly and they are only accepting cash payments for drinks.

They don't have a cocktail menu, the bar is not stocked and the cocktails made are horrible.

Lots of beer is wasted, no food is served to customers and when they ask for food they are just offered free popcorn.

Chase gives up, leaving to go to another bar across the street for a drink.

An argument breaks out in the middle of the street between Chase and the other owners.

Jon meets with Dan and Eric and is angry that they don't have Chase in line, especially since he doesn't have a monetary stake in the bar.

They both speak to Chase about treating the bar like a business but Chase says he is not interested.

Jon meets with the staff the next day and the main problem is revealed to be Chase’s attitude.

He is unrepentant, doesn’t care and his parents coddle him, which is bringing down the business. Chase says he is willing to change.

Rob teaches the bar staff to make a Mai Tai and a spicy cocktail, while Michael is teaching the kitchen how to make mini calzones.

For the stress test, Eric is managing the front of the house, Dan is behind the bar and Chase is the General Manager and moves around the bar.

Table numbers are forgotten, a bartender gets flustered and so does Traci preparing the calzones.

There is no system in place for food orders, they run out of glasses, customers are left waiting for both food and drinks as no one knows where the food is going.

The bar is closed as the stress test is a bust.

The next day Jon meets with the staff to discuss themes and suggests they become a Tiki bar.

Jon, Eric and Dan decide Chase has potential but he needs guidance and instructions to be able operate as a GM.

Chase is invited and he says he is committed to making it work.

Rob teaches the bar staff rum based cocktails to go with the chosen theme and the kitchen is trained on sweet calzones.

Jon gets the shuttle bus running and brands the exterior of the bus with the bar name as a marketing strategy.

They hope to use it to ferry students between the bar and the university.

The Staff are shuttled to the bar for the reveal of the renovations and Chase gets a haircut to mark the occasion.

A beachside/nautical theme is chosen for the interior and it’s bright and tropical.

There are TV screens with storm videos playing and there are also maps around the room.

Three 2touch POS systems have been installed, one with a printer for the kitchen with table numbers and bar stool numbers.

The beer draft system is fixed and they have a subscription to Taffer Virtual Teaching for staff.

They have a unique gimmick of a button that plays thunder sounds when they serve their signature cocktail, the Dark and Stormy.

They open for relaunch and they are keeping on top of orders and the customers love the food and cold beers; everyone is upbeat.

They are operating three times better than stress test night and the relaunch is a success.



What Happened Next at The Tradewinds?

Six weeks later sales are up 25% and Chase is more committed to managing the bar.

The bar is still open and reviews are mostly good.

Taffer returned to the bar in a Back to the Bar special a year later.

Food sales have increased 25% and the calzones are still popular.

Chase has stopped his drinking and slacking off and is a more responsible manager and was put to the test of making a cocktail.

Recent reviews from a number of patrons seem to have had negative experiences due to the bouncers behaviour and have witnessed drunk management.

In 2018 Chase got engaged and had a baby boy.

Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Sam Jordan's

Next episode - Brickhouse Bar and Grill

This post was last updated in January 2021.

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