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In the mid 70s I frequented a bar in Augusta Georgia called the Georgia Moon. It was U shaped. One one side of the U, records were played. The speakers were hidden behind a screen on which various psychedelic images were projected. The speakers were driven by a pair of tubed McIntosh amplifiers. I was told the speakers were Klipshorns. I don't remember the rest of the gear. I do remember spending many hours listening to all kinds of music. The DJ did not take requests but the sound and the music selection was fabulous.
I recently read about a bar/restaurant in London called Spiritland. It has a high end custom built audio system. I have not heard it but want to. They have guest DJs and and music events. It's sounds like a great place.
I currently live and work outside of the US. I plan on retiring soon and will be moving back to the states. I have been toying with the idea of opening a similar place when I return. Two questions:
1. Do you believe people would come to hear great music and eat good food?
2. What equipment would you recommend?
Thoughts would be welcomed.
Thanks for all of the input. I have been trying to figure out how to monetize one of my passions. If were the 1970's I would open a stereo or record store. Now, both would be a great way to lose a lot of money. I have a friend who has retired and now has a successful recording studio. It is possible, but not probable to succeed. Perhaps it has more to do with business acumen than passion.
They pull this off to a successful degree, and have become well known in the Marigny.
They feature well known NO musicians, most notably from the Marsalis family. Papa Ellis plays there as a regular.
They can do this because it's NO, with its great musical depth. Tulane's music school has Ellis Marsalis as a jazz professor. People seek out NO, with its music festivals as a place to go. Food in NO is thought to be universally great. People seek out NO as a culinary destination.
Even with all that background and context Snug offers drinks and lesser food items at its tables, which all provide views of the stage, main floor and mezzanine, a cozy little place. They are careful to not let the dining interfere with the show.
So to sum, unless you have a context like theirs, which I doubt, stay away from restaurant/performance combos. Focus on either eating with ambient music, or performance with refreshments. Doing both will ruin both.
While Burboun Street is the tourist attraction, when in NO we make it a point to catch a gig at Snug Harbor. Much like Yoshi's in Oakland, having dinner there first assures you of better seats.
Did I say location?
Once you have that settled, half the battle's won. Also, perhaps focus on being a bar with snacks rather than an eatery. The markup on drinks is much greater than food (attendant costs in staff, low-margin food, hygiene requirements, additional cleaning requirements, auditing costs, yadda yadda).
Ever seen Japanese Kissaten ? Worth you time researching their setups. Also popular in South Korea.
I have similar dreams for my retirement...
"... only a very few individuals understand as yet that personal salvation is a contradiction in terms."
The big problem with a restaurant is the mercurial nature of the business.
One month you could be dreaming of expanding, and have hired several new help. The next month you wonder how you can stay open!
I had cousins who opened a nice little restaurant. Just as they were opening a new one an economic recession hit, and they went totally bankrupt. Bad timing.. but also shows the nature of the business.
As for music added in.. This doubles the boom or bust nature, being the current hot spot vs last months old news.
So like the old saw of how to make a million dollars with a audio store? Start with two million.
If you really want to try, I suggest finding new friends who already own such places, and learn a lot more about the business before you jump in head first.
In San Diego's Gaslamp, there are literally maybe 100 restaurants and within 3 to 5 years, there are 100 different ones. The only ones that I recall being there nearly forever are the BBQ dive that was used in the Top Gun film and maybe one of two others that aren't trendy and just serve burgers and sandwiches at reasonable prices.
I agree mostly. Some restaurants last. Some don't. Where I live we have restaurants that have definately lasted. People stand in line. People pay others to stand in line for them. I would call that success.
On the other hand years ago I lived in a college town. One of my college buddies bought a bar after graduation.He changed the name and decor, came up with some fun ideas, ran it for a year and sold it. I asked him why. He explained that with college kids it's all about the new place. Everyone has to go to the new place. You can make money for a while. Then you sell. If you look at it as a temporary thing, that business model can work.
Yeah, there are plenty that do last the test of time. The Curbside Cafe here has been around a long time and is always packed and does well enough that they close down after lunch.
When I lived in LA during college, we'd always go to the Pantry for steak and eggs late at night or early in the morning, depending on how late we partied. A couple years ago, we were going to see the Eagles at the Staples Center in LA and I thought we could catch dinner at the Pantry which is a few blacks away, that is, if it was still there.
It is and hasn't changed a bit. A line out front that moves quickly and they still only take cash. I doubt the menu has changed since 1924, except for the prices which are still awfully reasonable.
There is some truth in your post. On the other hand, there are many restaurants, chain or not, which have been around for decades. One of the important aspects for longterm success is that it not be a "niche" or "trendy" restaurant. Niches and trends come and go. Too many young, and often inexperienced, folks think they've got the latest greatest restaurant idea, only to find that, two or four years later, nobody cares about it anymore.
Another problem is inept management. Running a restaurant isn't just about the ambiance and the food, it's also about running a business. Many people who start restaurants don't have those skills.
1) I would probably be a regular provided you had played jazz and had IPAs on tap.
2) Vinyl, Big horns and triodes!
The only major difference is the music option would include local live gigs..........
"1. Do you believe people would come to hear great music and eat good food?"
Of course.... But the good food is key..... You can have the greatest system in the world, but people wouldn't come back if the food or service is awful.
"2. What equipment would you recommend?"
Professional sound equipment..... McInstosh and Klipsch is a good start.... Maybe vintage Altec Lansing, vintage Bogen.... Large systems whose sound would fill up a room, without being too loud.
I would also provide an area for live bands to perform on occasion, as I stated before. The system could double as a PA system.
I think I know what is happening here. You just want to buy this cool equipment, let the business go under then tell the wife well, I have this cool equipment now I might as well use it at home. Be honest, tell the wife you want to buy a retirement system.....
One thing at a time.
I like to eat.
I like to listen to music.
For me, never the twain shall meet.
I like to have a conversation when I eat. Music discourages that.
When considering the idea of eating while listening to good music I imagine both as being compromised.
I can't imagine the food being great... if it was, I would not want music.
If the music was worthy of my attention, I surely would not want the distraction of eating.
I don't eat when I go to a concert, nor do I want a concert while I'm eating.
I may be confusing eating with "dining" and hearing with "listening".
Perhaps you meant a much more casual atmosphere ?
Which still would not work for me. When eating anything more than background music is annoying.
Just my 2-cents and worth less than half what you paid.
reelsmith's axiom: Its going to be used equipment when I sell it, so it may as well be used equipment when I buy it.
...people go to restaurants to eat good food and talk with their friends. Music is usually in the background.
About 60% of new restaurants don't make it 3 years.
People go to hear good recorded music and DJs to dance with their friends - the music will determine the age demographic.
People go to live music to hear and see good musicians and music they like. They may eat beforehand.
It is difficult to combine those things and successful places that have appear to be rare.
But unless you have experience OR a great team to run your food business, you should lease the equipment
since you probably won't be in business long enough to warrant buying it.
The old "how do you make a million in the audio business?/ start with two million." applies to the restaurant business as well.
So, unless you're doing this as a hobby, be well prepared and capitalized and have a helluva business plan.
If the draw is supposed to be the system, there are PLENTY of ultra high end ones you could put together and I seriously
doubt those outside of these types of boards will really care what it is, so choose something that you like.
And, as regards system and business: LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
"Once this was all Black Plasma and Imagination" -Michael McClure
I mean think about it- $2 bucks for a cup of hot water poured over a crushed bean? Now don't get me wrong-I love me some java but I'm not your usual or 'typical' Starbucks person. I'll go there to meet up with friends and that's about it; although I will say most I've gone to are generally playing great music (light blues/jazz)albeit through a above mediocre system...add a great system along with free wi-fi, and you're off and running..
As I'm in London then obviously , yes, people will come as Spiritland is here. But that's in London. Would it work anywhere in the US? No idea but I expect you would need to be in a large and hip city. Spiritland also works by being in close contact with the music business and by being a venue for breaking albums and acts. See the link.
As for equipment, Spiritland has an amazing sound system much of which is custom built. It relies upon a custom version of the Living Voice Vox Olympian speakers ( over 700,000 USD a pair). CD replay? dCS Vivaldi. LP? Kuzma Stabi XL. Amplification - custom triode ( Atelier du Triode). So before you get too caught up in dreams think of a sound system, let alone the rest of the eaterie, costing around $1M+.
So if you are very, very rich or have wealthy investors , go ahead.
Cortez Jazz Cafe:
The "audiophile cafe" would have a better chance of succeeding in Japan than in the States..... Only because the audiophile community in Japan is a lot more vibrant than it is in the States...... The younger crowd in Japan hasn't been pigeonholed into accepting only generational pop music, which is another factor. People must be interested in a diverse and eclectic mix of music.
But still, the quality of food and service is key, if such a concept were to succeed. No restaurant has ever succeeded on concept alone.
I grew up in a family the older generation of which did institutional feeding (a concession to run a brewery cafeteria, if anyone can believe that). My parents later ran a very successful gourmet coffee shop (they were among the first to sell gourmet coffee beans in Providence, and not just sell the brewed coffee); and my sister still does theatrical catering (and the occasional wedding reception).
First: the restaurant business is the restaurant business, and, if you have no experience in it, please please please try working in a restaurant with a vibrant "night life."
What my parents avoided by closing the gourmet coffee shop at 6 PM included drunks, pilferage, middle management sexually hitting on waitstaff, etc.
Plan B is to hire a competent honest manager, who of course will want to work his or her way into partial ownership.
I know an awful lot about the business, and for years I dreamed of a very casual beach-area drinks and dinner restaurant to be called "Cap'n Jack's Opera Shack," where the only audio would be opera (and art song) on a great stereo system at one end of a long room... .
But, I know too much.
Give it a try, sounds like my ultimate retirement spot. Add a "book exchange" and some comfortable sofas, a equipment room to tinker with amps and it's perfect.
I have 2 sons managing restaurants (one a fine dining, one a college pickup bar), stick with simple food, a single page menu and a outstanding bar. All your profits are from liquor and all your costs are from restaurant, labor. Better yet, don't even prepare food, just host and cleanup what people bring in.
For equipment, depends on the venue size. Some arrays hung facing out from the bar powered by a couple of push-pull amps will give enough sound to comfortably enjoy music and a conversation. If you want something sweeter, a pair of 300B monoblocks into some Karlson's cabinets.
Mc gear sounds good. You do need something reliable.
You'd be surprised, but maybe a college town will work. There are some of those type bars up in San Luis Obispo. By Cal Poly.
2. See 1
OK, some sarcasm there. But today's people are different, and the generation you're targeting is raising kids that are spending the money at the place you want to open. You have a boatload of competition in the restaurant industry, at least where I live anyway. The idea is great, but I honestly think you'll have a hard time at it.
I mostly agree. We had a couple of places in New Orleans that had high end sound systems years ago. They even used Mc equipment, but they were bars aimed at young singles. They may till exist for all I know. I'm past singles bars.
When we chose a restaurant to eat with family, we look for one that is quiet enough to have conversations. Most are pretty loud. To be able to hear music over the din of most eateries you would have to blast it. Then some people would avoid it due to not being condusive to conversation. Just my opinion.
it is hard to imagine that there is any choice of music that would be suitable to everyong for interrupting their conversation.
I avoid restaurants with music, especially live music.
Kal, the idea (Spiritland) is not a restaurant with music. It is a music venue that also serves food. Think of a jazz club. Which reminds me of a great put down from the vocalist Claire Martin performing at Ronnie Scotts. She starts her act but cannot continue. She stops the band and walks over to a loud table near the front. " Its terrible isn't it, you come out for a nice conversation then some bastard starts singing".
That reminds of an incident with the late great Maynard Ferguson. I don't remember if it was at Ronnie or The Blue Note in NY or somewhere else, but it was at a jazz club. Some drunk guy was being obnoxious while MF and the band were playing. Now, Maynard was a pretty fun guy and easy-going, but this drunk was so obnoxious that Maynard actually stopped the band and told the guy to shut the F up.
if that's the case, OK.
OTOH, the reason I especially avoid restaurants with live music is that, in addition to being annoyed by the intrusion, I am unhappy about being discourteous to the performers (but I am).
Kal, buddy, pal...
The guy is a goofball. 10 years on AA, and six, count 'em, six posts?
Can y'all say "phishing for email addresses"?
Goofball? Perhaps. Phishing for anything expect information, not so much. I post when I have something to say.
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