The Brown Street Club
In the early 2000’s a group of successful businessmen in Greenville, SC decided to open and operate a sophisticated jazz club evoking the upscale steak houses and speakeasies of Chicago’s prohibition era. The club was beautiful, the wine selection was immense, but the restaurant was struggling. No expense was spared on the design, fit, and finish, yet the restaurant failed to drive the foot traffic it needed to thrive. The owners, admittedly, underestimated what it would take to operate a restaurant. They had chosen poor leadership based on flawed assumptions and they had no restaurant operations experience on which to base their decisions nor did they have measurement tools to help them pinpoint what was wrong.
In 2009, Blue Orbit was called in to assess the operation and make recommendations. The prognosis was grim as we discovered food quality issues, rampant theft, poor leadership, non-existent cost controls, and other operational misfires that spelled certain disaster if allowed to continue. The restaurant was completely dependent on support from the parent company. Following our assessment the owners engaged Blue Orbit to fix it.
Blue Orbit immersed in operations to take control of all management functions (culinary and service) while recruiting competent talent to learn our systems. While we hired and trained a new Chef and new General Manager, Blue Orbit developed and rolled out a new menu with recipes and costing, re-vamped the bar assortment, established new culture protocols, and put the owners back in control of a restaurant befitting their original dream.
From there, Blue Orbit was retained to provide strategic support for the management team including several menu rollouts. We also provided operational accountability for the owners through developing accounting systems and tools that allowed them to measure results. Blue Orbit taught the owners how to measure and assess operating performance…and what to do to resolve problems.
Over our time on the project we saw sales increase by 90% while costs came in line to the point of being self-sufficient.
Today, the City of Greenville has re-vitalized the alley on which the club sits, calling it “The Brown Street District”, adding wrought iron archways, piano key inlays on the street and an expanded sidewalk on which the club can add outdoor seating. The Brown Street Club’s Chef and General Manager are a dynamic team of professionals, operating with simple systems that work and keep them in front of their guests…and the previously inexperienced owners are now proud restaurateurs.
Since writing this case study, The Brown Street Club has closed. Unfortunately financial troubles at the parent company (unrelated to the restaurant) forced the doors closed at The Brown Street Club. A true success story that we’re proud of – so we’re keeping the study around to show you how we work.