VFW Post 6216 - Bar Rescue Update - Open or Closed?

VFW Post 6216 Bar Rescue

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits the VFW Post 6216 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

VFW Post 6216 was built in 1966 and it is dedicated to veterans of foreign wars (VFW).

Rudy Vallez is a member and the commander of the bar.

It is a safe, fun space for their community, veterans and their family, called auxiliary members to mingle.

Johnny is their quartermaster and oversees the upkeep and the books.

Johnny suffers from PTSD and the community feel of the bar keeps him grounded.

Membership has declined over the years and now they serve mainly non-members.

Auxiliary members can work at the bar and are not trained for their jobs.

Jon meets with Mark Decker, who is the department manager for the state of New Mexico International VFW organization.

He tells Jon that he has been with VFW for 14 years.

Membership of the VFW has dropped from 5 million to 1.6 million in 27 years and smaller posts have had to close due to a lack of use.

It is the hope that reviving this post would serve as a template to revive the other posts internationally and revive the VFW.

They both note the exterior and interior is tired looking, although they recognise there is potential for income with the banquet hall.

Jon is introduced to Rudy, Johnny and Ric, a judge advocate that interprets the VFW laws and one of the youngest members.

The median age of the members at this post is 64 years old.

Diane is a manager, Jeff is a member and Christian is a bartender.

They notice customers drinking out of red solo cups, the noticeboard is untidy with posters and American flags are arranged all over the place.

The kitchen is set up like a residential kitchen and isn't getting much use.

Jon tells him he will make it his mission to get the vets to pass down their pride in serving their nation through the post.

Jon goes into the bar and meets Rudy, Johnny and Rick privately.

Jon has had previous work experience with the army and veterans and he feels ashamed of the state of the post.

Johnny said he has given it a lot of the blood, sweat, tears and money and this is all that they could afford.

Jon has an emotional moment with them saying they are warriors and they need more members like them there.

The next day, Jon brings in Tiffany Derry, an expert chef and they see how basic the kitchen is.

They compare it to their grandma's kitchen except the post has 3 microwaves that they use a lot to cook the food.

Jon meets with the VFW members to get their opinion on the bar.

They believe the place is falling apart because there are no new members.

And this is because they misguidedly believe they are too young to join.

But what is really happening is that there is no marketing drive for new members and there is a lack of initiative to generate the much needed funds for marketing.

Jon introduces Tiffany and Rob Floyd, an expert mixologist whose father served in the military.

Rob works with the staff and gives them a quiz on drink recipes, then teaches them to make some simple drinks.

They don't normally serve food but they need to do so for catering events so Tiffany is the chef and expert for the evening’s stress test.

On the night of the stress test the team look unprepared but Jon is hopefully Rudy can take command of the service.

It starts shaky with drinks getting wasted, the bar is instantly overwhelmed and customers are served food without napkins.

They spot dirt in drinks and trace it to the ice machine, identifying animal and insect faeces and insect parts that are dropping into people’s drinks.

Jon shuts the bar down to make the much-needed changes that need to be made to the bar.

Jon speaks with Rudy and Johnny afterwards and tells them they are not traditionally bartenders and cooks.

He tells them that they will put something in place to help them run the post efficiently.

They are also going to organise a Vet’s ball for launch night and set up a meet with young veterans in the hopes of gaining their membership.

All the staff go on the membership drive and talk about their activities.

They talk about how they need their support in joining in and coming for the launch of the post.

Rob trains the staff on some simple quick drinks that they can do for events in their banquet area.

They are given a Smart Bar device, that mixes and dispenses drinks.

Jon unveils the new bar and the exterior has been made more vibrant with a bigger sign with the meaning of VFW spelled out.

There is also a mural on the front of the building.

The interior has been modernised, with pictures of vets and members on the walls in their uniforms.

There is a new Harbour Touch POS system, furniture from East Coast Chair and Barstool and a new ice machine from Manitowoc Ice Machines.

They also have a new beer cooler and a video system for PR from OneStone Hub.

There is an inventory system from Partender and a brand new commercial kitchen from Standard Restaurant Supply.

The new kitchen is a far cry from the three microwaves they had before!

The banquet hall has been renovated too and has been made more elegant with new chandeliers.

The First Annual Auxiliary Ball officially starts and food has been brought in already prepared making it easy for the kitchen.

There is a catering partner and a flower partner for the banquet hall so future events can be seamless as well.

This serves as a blueprint for other posts to use to upgrade and become more profitable.

New members are impressed at the setup and find it more family friendly than they thought.

The staff are hopeful and are expecting new VFW and auxiliary members to sign up from the launch.

What Happened Next at VFW Post 6216

Six weeks later memberships are on the rise.

Bar sales have increased and their banquet hall has been booked for multiple events.

After the show, they are making better use of the banquet hall for fundraising activities including catering events and are taking external bookings.

This post was last updated in March 2022.

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