Human beings are creatures of habit. We do things that we like, over and over and over again. It isn’t so much hedonistic as it is just lazy. Why try something new when I’m perfectly happy doing what I’m doing? For example, my typical diet is frozen pizzas, pop tarts and/or chocolate chip ice cream. In a pinch, I might eat a bag of microwave popcorn as a meal. My digestive system can process steel I-beams, homey.
Our habits are on my brain recently because of the influx of new drinking establishments that have pervaded the Port City recently. These places have the advantage of being new and hip. But they are at a disadvantage because they don’t have a part of the community’s mindshare. We don’t know about these new bars, and aren’t too concerned with them. That is why new bars have such a short lifespan. There is no guarantee that a new place is going to be any better than our old standbys.
In an effort to get the feel for these places, and to introduce them to the partying public, I’ve decided to interview the operators of these new bars. Over the coming summer months, I hope to have the chance to see what’s on their minds, see what their aspirations and concerns are. First up, I talked to Frankie SeChrist, managerial consultant of 007 on Princess Street. The name is a reference to the year it opened, not to James Bond’s call sign. But it is an easy mistake. Frankie SeChrist’s background is restaurant management, with a hint of a psychology degree from UNC.
“Neither one of (the owners) are club operators or bar operators,” Frankie told me during a sit-down interview. “They both have other occupations. They brought me in to do promotions and get it straight. They knew me from previous experiences. They knew what I was capable of, that I ran a tight ship.”
With the over saturation of bars, competition is liable to be fierce. How does a bar manager deal with other establishments with cheaper drink specials and more regular attendants?
“You can’t compete with the drink specials,” Frankie said. “You can’t compete with the prices. But what you can do is create an atmosphere that makes people feel welcome; make sure they have a good time. That’s something we can work on, the service we can give our customers.”
007 is much bigger on the inside than you might expect. The front part is narrow, and widens at the back where the DJ booth resides. There’s an outside bar and patio, with a nice dark downstairs which has been named “The Tunnel” because, well, its dark down there. Mr. SeChrist also has plans for a “VIP” lounge downstairs and, maybe, house accountants for certain patrons. A good bar is more than its space, however. 007 has been many different names and many different bars. But it does have the potential to be something lasting and inventive. Every bar has to make an extra effort to stand out. Bars are expensive to run, and drawing in new clientele is essential.
“I think it’s challenging,” Frankie said. “When I go into a another place, I look and see what they’re doing well, see what we can be doing better. I try not to think of the money. I try to think of the people, my patrons. I just try to have a good party and a good time.”
There is no doubt in my mind that all the new bars in town will be moderately successful. But will they last? Or will they turn over again in a year with a new name, a new coat of paint and some quick, trendy fix? The key to a successful bar is consistency. Bar-hoppers have to know that the place will be safe, clean, and fun on a regular basis. 007 seems to have all those lined up in proper order. I’ll keep you posted, as always.
Correction: A few weeks ago I reported on the Pedicabs in Wilmington. I reported poorly. I got information wrong and I want to fix that mishap. The pedal cab company is called Pedal Planet. The correct phone number is 910-398-7225. I apologize for the error. I also received an email from Wilmingtonian Mary Lou Bryden, singing high praise of the pedicab service, and pretty much calling me a moron. “Many times my husband will drop me off at the restaurant or Thalian Hall, etc., and then try to find a place to park. I’m not lazy, and I try to do as much as I can as far as I can. I think pedicabs are a great alternative to get you where you want to go.”
However you get around town, do it safely and have a good evening.
I don’t mind being called a moron. You get use to it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org