I was drawn to the premise. A new book called “Million Dollar Party” chronicled a couple’s wrong way attempt to open their own bar and grille in Lincoln, Nebraska. Midwestern people, Bar & Grille, maybe I could learn a little something, right?
In life, there seems to be two ways to learn something, the good way and the bad way. Maybe your dad set the path for learning the right way to do things and, and maybe your cousin Ricky was the example of the wrong way, and you were going to do everything the opposite. Turns out this book was not only inspired by Ricky’s path, cousin Ricky took the time to write a book about his stupidity.
The real Ricky… is Bob Ihrig, and his place was Bob’s Gridiron Grille and the Pigskin Pub. Bob was a huge Nebraska fan, and since childhood had accumulated a massive amount of Cornhusker memorabilia. This is where the story begins. I mean nothing says this endeavor will be successful than believing everyone is coming because of your decorations.
Exactly The Wrong Way
On opening day 2003, (he picked a Saturday) , after a football game and charged everyone half price. He was over run, staff was totally spooked, and believed that day alone caused severe trauma to future customer loyalty. Then, with a menu to large already, he thought rotating specials of the day were a good idea.
Then Lincoln passed a restaurant smoking ban, so he tried to become more of bar to get around ordinance, he hired bands and often served $1 beers, which led to a complete image change and destroyed profitability. Throw in a few bad hires….one night he fired an employee, and when Bob left that night, his car had been totally flipped over.
Keeping Wrong Way Theme Alive
He claims his final nail in the coffin was that he did not read the building lease agreement close enough. He thought during a remodel he did not have to pay rent, landlord said, “nice try”. To me, the real atrocity is Bob writing this book. If his goal was for me to feel way better about my restaurant, he accomplished that. If his goal was to make sure someone 500 miles from Lincoln thought he was a total moron, he accomplished that too.
Bob claims his goal was to provide advice about how to do things differently…point taken. It has become abundantly apparent that I will not find a “good way to run a restaurant” book. Those people are too busy running successful restaurants to write a book.