After Buying This Restaurant: Moochie's Tavern

Keith Simpson on Buy This Restaurant

With a shared wish to own their own eatery, friends and colleagues Jody and Rhonda looked to Buy This Restaurant's Keith Simpson for help in finding the ultimate location to launch their would-be business. They wanted a spot in which they could run a sports-themed restaurant with a communal, family-friendly focus, and after exploring three options with Keith, the clients purchased Skinnyz Bar & Grille, an existing business they later transformed into Moochie's Tavern.

FN Dish checked in with Rhonda a few months after she and Jody opened Moochie's to find out how the restaurant is faring today. Read on below to hear from Rhonda, and learn about her experience in buying a restaurant and how it's been to run it so far.

How is Moochie's Tavern doing today? What have the monthly sales been at the restaurant? What is the greatest expenditure at your business?

Rhonda:  Moochie’s is doing really well! We have more than doubled our business in two short months; monthly sales are presently $50,000. We are extremely excited about the sales growth, especially as the increase in business has been organic — all word of mouth. We have done no advertising while we establish our menu and get our team up to speed.

Believe it or not, signs are really expensive. The sign, the addition of 11 TVs, and reorienting the booths have been the costliest for us.

What was the most-influential factor in you choosing Skinnyz over Passion8 Bistro and the vacant building?

Rhonda: The turn-key operation and location were the most-influential factors for us choosing Skinnyz over the less-expensive choices. The established clientele, and the ability to immediately open the doors to begin cash flow, was paramount to our decision.

What were your greatest struggles and greatest successes as you worked to open your restaurant?

Rhonda: Maintaining consistency has been our greatest struggle. Setting the expectations is easy, but the actual consistent execution of them is not as simple as it would seem. We are making huge progress, but lack of consistency continues to be a huge focus for us. Jody and I are so proud of the environment that we have created. We receive comments all the time that our place feels comfortable and warm. We have assembled a great team that's dedicated to providing excellent service and delicious food. Our customer base is expanding as more families, couples and large groups come to enjoy time together.

Tell us about the changes you made in terms of the decor. What was the most-prominent interior update?

Rhonda: The Alabama coast theme is completely gone. In its place is a unique combination of sports memorabilia, chandeliers, lots of televisions, interesting artwork and warm lighting. We made a decision to reuse as much of the existing fixtures as we could to avoid adding to the area landfills. As a result, the booths and tables were repurposed into high-top banquet seating – perfect for couples. Or the tables can be put together for large groups.

How have Skinnyz customers reacted to the updates at Moochie's? What kind of feedback have you gotten?

Rhonda: Our customers are very excited about the changes at Moochie's. From the name to the food to the environment, everyone has been very complimentary. The highest compliment we receive is that our place is comfortable — people enjoy the atmosphere and say, "See you tomorrow!"

Did you tweak the Skinnyz menu at all, and if so, how? What has the reaction been to the new food? What have been the best-selling menu items so far?

Rhonda: We immediately made changes to the menu by replacing frozen items with fresh. We have kept some of the favorite items but added some new favorites. Our customers are loving the new menu and new items. Our wings, flatbreads, calamari and burgers are huge hits, as are the new salmon and flat iron steak entrees.

What do you think was the most-important design aspect of the restaurant in order to achieve the family-friendly sports atmosphere you were hoping for?

Rhonda: Changing the orientation of the booths has proved to be extremely important to our vision of a family-friendly environment. This allows us a nice separation from the bar to the eating space. It is exciting to see the tables full of families and groups.

Who has been your typical customer so far (families, business people, lunch crowds, etc.)? Have you seen new customers?

Rhonda: We are proud that the regular customer base still comes to enjoy the new environment at Moochie's while every day we see new faces — families and groups of friends.

What are you most looking forward to for your new restaurant?

Rhonda: The team at Moochie’s looks forward to becoming part of the community we serve; we are looking forward to creating an outdoor space as comfortable and inviting as the inside. Our property manager just gave approval to add a designated place for kids to play outside while their parents relax and enjoy some downtime. Our long-term goal is to open a Moochie's at the beach and leave our corporate jobs behind.