Bar Rescue: Should Weber’s name have been stripped?

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Sometimes, radical change is required.  The latest episode of Bar Rescue on Spike TV, in which a bar owner was being robbed blind by one of his staff members, was one of those occasions.  The bartender was proven by bar turnaround tough guy Jon Taffer to have stolen almost $1,200 in cash in just two recent nights – and he worked there for four years.  Yet the owner, Kervin, idiotically told the guy he could stay.

Well, it’s true that Kervin asked the stealer not to steal from him again, which must have made the thief feel really, really bad.   Ultimately, Taffer had to embarrass Kervin into taking the appropriate action – which was to fire the crook with extreme prejudice.  But as we found out at episode’s end, Kervin evidently decided to give the dirtbag another swipe at the till.

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Evolution, not revolution

On the other hand, sometimes evolution, not revolution, is the called-for approach.  I refer to the way in which Jon handled the name of the establishment:  Weber’s Place.  Rescuing a bar (or any other brand) can necessitate changing the name and associated imagery to properly reposition the brand.  In an especially memorable past episode, for example, Taffer evolved the name of a bar, well-known for its chicken wings, from The Chicken Bone to simply The Bone.  Part of Jon’s rationale was the unsightly logo adorning the sign outside the premises, explained to the owner thusly (and I am paraphrasing):  “You’ve got a chicken on your sign with fire coming out of its ass.”

An even subtler evolution was prescribed in the case of Weber’s.  Jon changed the bar’s format from a dingy live music venue to a Caribbean theme focused on rum-based drinks.  And so the name was simply nudged from Weber’s Place to Weber’s Rum Bar and Grill.

A revealing calculation

But wait:  this bar was a strip joint in a past life.   Wouldn’t that single fact justify changing the name completely?  Answer: only if the strip club’s negative associations outweighed the positive associations earned in the cumulative decades before and after the topless era.

Brand equity – defined as the degree to which the target market thinks positively about a brand – is extremely difficult to build and sustain over time, so you don’t make a wholesale name change lightly.  Because the calculation for Weber’s was not done on camera, all we can do is assume that Jon, a practitioner of what he calls “bar science,” did the math and found that the venue’s topless past didn’t, er, peel away that much brand equity after all.

Click here for “Anatomy of a Rescue”, by Jon Taffer Production Designer Nancy Hadley.

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6 Responses to Bar Rescue: Should Weber’s name have been stripped?

  1. Chris Nunez says:

    Wow, I just seen the show! Good Stuff! I recently completed bartending school 2 weeks ago and watching everything that went wrong, and how it changed made me have a sence and passion for the show. Jhon really knows what hes doing and after seeing how well he left this place has left me wishing and wanting to work at a place like this, instead of the greese monkey place it was before. Please let me get info on how to apply to one of these places and prove and earn a spot that I could love to work at, especially working next to a great and gorgeouse worker Like Leyla

    -Chris Nunez
    chrisdnunez11@yahoo.com

  2. Chris Nunez says:

    And yes he should have changed it!!!!

  3. Alex says:

    I’ve lived in Reseda for 11 years and Weber’s had always been somewhat of a live rock & roll place since the 80’s (back when The Country Club was still around). Those *lips* were actually there before Weber’s turned into a Bikini Sports Bar (never full strip) in early 2007 and was simply called “W”. One year later, the bar became “Weber’s Place” again but now labeled more as a supper club, charging 5-10 bucks at the door to see DJs spin. Suddenly, the bar seemed to of gotten back to its original roots as it began booking live music albeit from different genres (Rap, Comedy, Rockabilly) a couple of years back.

    When I saw the show I was actually surprised that Jon didn’t change the name, but I can almost understand why. The place has had some sort of historical value with the Valley residents, and seeing that the name has been carried through all of its iterations for the past decades I guess it was deemed traditional to stick with it. Oh, and the building (the birdcage) where the bar is located has always been red, so it was a huge impact to see the facade grayed out…

    Hopefully it survives another tenure.

    • Coin says:

      Alex: thanks for your comment. I don’t live in the area of Weber’s, so your background information is priceless.

      You raise an interesting point about a potential benefit of keeping the Weber’s name: because the place has had so many iterations, it could be that people have been watching the ups and downs of the place for so long, they have an emotional attachment that makes them want Weber’s to ultimately succeed. Retaining the name allows them to maintain that attachment and thus possibly win their patronage of the latest iteration, whereas changing names could break the connection forever.

      Thanks again –

      • RC says:

        Comment a couple of years late in the thread. Webers was huge in the early 1990s with all the fraternities from CSUN. It was a young people’s bar mostly. Crab racing night, lingerie night, other ‘speciality’ events weekly. A piano playing, beer drinking comedian by the name of Bill The Fox was a regular there on Tuesday nights. You may have seen him on Comedy Centrals The Man Show. And yes, the lips were there since day one.

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