Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dirty Frank's, worst bar in the city, pulls the plug on seven years of quizzo with no notice for loyal patrons

After seven years of amazing customer loyalty, Frank's abruptly decided that the 20 or so people who showed up for the quiz last night were "not enough" and pulled the plug on the event. People drove from as far as the Main Line, and I know a few of you walked from deep in South Philly. Some of you have been customers since you were old enough to drink, I know in many cases 5-20+ years. I know many of you showed up over 300 times over the past seven years of Wednesdays. I know you spent many times more money than you were awarded in wholesale booze counted in retail-priced certificates.

No one at Frank's gives a flying fuck about you. We're all disposable pieces of shit to them, which is ironic as you can't get much shittier than some of the staff. Keep in mind that an employee who smacked a customer in the head and threw a chair across the room is still employed there, but the quiz has to go... because the quiz made a few unsavory alcoholics unhappy. Does it get much more dysfunctional than that?

I have not been contacted by anybody at the managerial or ownership level about this, which is cowardly and unprofessional at best. Tuesday afternoon they had Sheila call me with almost no useful information, except to float the idea that I should essentially blackmail customers into coming in larger numbers or the plug might be pulled.

Sheila has absolutely no idea what the magic number of customers might be for a viable quiz. Seriously, zero idea. She asked if I did(?!), which is pretty odd considering I'm the only person involved here who doesn't touch the register or see books. It seems that over the past seven years the bar has spent over $30,000 on the quiz without ever once running some numbers to see if it was making money. This is mismanagement at an extreme. (For the record, I think it did make money on balance, if not every single night it occurred, not to mention the fact that the quiz provided the bar with nearly its only attempts at advertising or publicity, wholly through my effort to push the quiz. Again, just a stupid, stupid business move.)

The owner felt a financial pinch, and, the bar not able to pull additional customers in I suppose, figured ditching the quiz was the way to increase profits. This is stupid at multiple levels.

I became a Frank's regular more than 12 years ago. I played the quiz there for about 5 years, starting the very first night. I'm never spending a penny in that shithole again. The loyalty that you and I have shown to that place over the years has been "rewarded" by not having the decency to give regulars - not even to give me - one week's notice that the quiz might not happen. Some of you have played over 300 times, and we can't give you a one-time head's up to stay home the following week..? As far as I'm concerned, the bar's pre-quiz beer revenue was earned under fraudulent pretenses last night.

The quiz was advertised on this site (which was, incidentally, the bar's only web presence...) and was listed in two weekly papers. I had less than 36 hours notice that anything was even considered amiss. Not only is this a boneheaded business decision, but the manner of pulling it off is rude, disrespectful and trades the good vibe of a customer perk for the bad vibe of jerking the bar's most loyal customers around needlessly. These people work in the service industry?

I wasn't paid a penny last night, even though I prepared for a quiz I had every reason to believe was happening, showed up on time, prepared my material and did the usual promotion. My law friends tell me that as there was a verbal contract and an issue of legal "reliability"; I could easily win that fee plus expenses in small claims court. We all got screwed.

I believe the quiz was killed last night intentionally. I had no opportunity to take a count as to how many wanted a quiz, and in fact I was discouraged from asking people if they'd like to participate. Rather than jerk you all around next Wednesday too by having you drink for a half hour or more before suggesting that "there aren't enough people" to play, I said that the honest thing to do would be to cancel the event formally. No one running that bar had the balls to come right out and fire me, and no one had the balls to tell you all directly that the quiz was cancelled. That was left to me, as a final insult and uncompensated task. What a shameful way to treat other people. "Dirty" indeed.

There was some whining that I was making more than the bartenders do some nights. Well, I do my job better. I bring people in, as best I can when the place is suffering a decade of service decline. No one comes to a bar to wait 45 minutes for the wrong drink and/or be served with a scowl. No one wants to sit next to a sad, obnoxious and possibly violent alcoholic who needed to be put into a cab three drinks ago. No one wants to be screamed at by bouncers who hate their customers. Revenues are down? Control your freakin' bar and respect your customers. One bad customer drives out ten good ones. One loud drunk drives out 20 quiz players. I have never blamed a single friend or quiz participant for not returning to Frank's for the quiz; the place is increasingly difficult to enjoy.

I'm going to seek another Wednesday or Thursday night venue. Ideas on that end are welcome. In the meantime, consider my three violence-free venues at right. If you want slow and/or bitter service, the opportunity for a fistfight, an increasingly pathetic alcoholic-centered group of obnoxious patrons, largely unregulated by the world's smallest bouncers... if you'd like to enjoy this with a skull-splitting soundtrack of bad metal and rap... try Frank's.

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Steve Odabashian said...

"If you want slow and/or bitter service, the opportunity for a fistfight, an increasingly pathetic alcoholic-centered group of obnoxious patrons, largely unregulated by the world's smallest bouncers... if you'd like to enjoy this with a skull-splitting soundtrack of bad metal and rap... try Frank's."

I wish I could fit all of this on a bumper sticker.

Anonymous said...

All that is said about Frank's staff and patrons in this article is TOTALLY true. I stopped attending the quiz as a woman who was a little nervous about the boarderline skidrow clientle and possible bacterial infection from glassware.