I've heard so many rumors that Ryan Braun was opening a restaurant in Lake Geneva for so long that I just assumed that it was true. (Kind of like Rod Stewart having his stomach pumped.) I've know about this for awhile, but didn't want to post about it just in case it wasn't true. One day the sign out in front of the restaurant was changed to say "COMING SOON BRETT FAVRE'S STEAKHOUSE" which was funny, but also made me think that there was no way it was Braun's place because no way he'd think of something that funny. Well, it all turned out be true and yesterday news started to trickle out about it, topped off by the great Adam McCalvy doing a full write up. In the write up McCalvy says:
A group of investors led by Madison lawyer Patrick Sweeney finalized a licensing deal with Braun and Major League Baseball this month. The group is spending more than $1 million on upgrades to a former Mexican restaurant at 430 Broad St. in Lake Geneva, a resort community about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee's Miller Park, and the idea is to open for business within 6-8 weeks.
He got a first-hand look at the progress of the restaurant on Sept. 6, the same day Braun and his teammates executed their now-famous celebration of Prince Fielder's 12th-inning home run that beat the San Francisco Giants.
Now I've worked in and around restaurants for most of my life and if there is one thing that has been said at each and every establishment that I have been fired for drinking from it's this: "The most expensive seat in a restaurant is an empty seat." With the idea being that you can have the best service, best food, stiffest drinks, the sluttiest waitresses and everything else in the world, but if there is nobody there to eat it the restaurant will fail. By their own doing this restaurant has had it's door closed since September and all summer long before that. Why? To spend over $1 million on upgrades to a place that wasn't that messed up to begin with. Of course.
We could get into the logistics of opening a Braun and therefore Brewers themed restaurant in the #1 vacation destination for people from Illinois (ie assholes Cubs fans). We could get into the part where Lake Geneva is a summer town and opening anything after Labor Day is a bad, bad idea. We don't need to do any of that though because Ryan Braun is opening a restaurant that has had it's door closed for at least six months (and I've yet to see a "Now Hiring" sign or ad).
Thus far all these guys have proved to be able to do is spend money. I don't know what they paid for the building, but it couldn't be cheap (afterall, it's Lake Geneva). Let's be nice and say it's $2000/mo. So let's look at this:
Rent (6 months) ($12,000) Upgrades ($1,000,000) Sales $ 0.00 Profit ($1,012,000)
I would highly doubt that they paid that million in cash, by the way. Which at 7% interest that would be $9000 a month or rather $300 PER DAY that they are paying in interest alone and that doesn't include taxes, insurance, lights, gas, payroll and everything else to not make any money. I emailed someone who would know this sort of thing and they said that restaurants normally make about 30%-40% food cost. That means that they would need to sell $1000 in food everyday just to break even. (And this is being generous, the true numbers are probably much higher.) That's not even considering the rent, payroll, lights, gas and everything else.
So with food prices set at "$8-20, plus a few higher-priced steaks" and whatever they make in liquor it's going to be about 2015 by the time they turn a profit. Maybe even further down the road. Can the investors wait that long? (Keep in mind all this is assuming that the restaurant is good and that people go there. Not a guarantee, especially in a small town where great chefs and staff don't grow on trees.) Because believe me there is no way Ryan Braun has anything in this that he can't afford to lose. If anyone loses money on this deal, it's not Ryan Braun. It's his genius partners. I mean, even if they had to wait for MLB rights to clear couldn't they have just opened as "Tavern and Grille" and added the Ryan Braun later? Maybe they enjoy only making it a couple years before going out of business like the Brett Favre's Steakhouse in Milwaukee (and Brett Favre was a much, much bigger presence at that time in Wisconsin than Ryan Braun will ever be.)
This isn't meant to be a knock on Ryan Braun. I think it's a pretty good idea. Licensing your name to stuff is almost all profit and if this fails, nobody is going to say "Oh, Ryan Braun's Tavern and Grille didn't make it. Screw that guy, I am gonna burn his jersey." If anything it just gets his name out there more and that's a win-win for him. I really think that Ryan Braun wants to be like Hulk Hogan in that whenever you say something about WWE or pro wrestling people in general, people who don't know what the hell they are talking about say "Hulk Hogan?" and Braun wants that same sort of notoriety when it comes to baseball and the Brewers in general. I don't slam him for that because I want the same sort of notoriety when people mention second rate baseball blogs.
The truth is I want Ryan Braun to succeed in all of his ventures. I want him to sell a million t-shirts (just not to me, any of my friends or anyone who reads this site) and I want this restaurant to be a success because a happy Ryan Braun means a successful Ryan Braun, both on and off the field. When this place opens, I'll be one of the first to give it a shot and have a drink and some dinner there. Hell, maybe I'll see if they need an extra bartender. That being said, it just doesn't look good.
(And since I mentioned it, here's the best scene from The Money Pit.)