Bar Rescue’s attempt to glamorize Coconut Grove’s Sandbar was a failure. Perhaps John Taffer, Mia Mastroianni and Chef Gavan Murphy have had success with their “sophisticated and upscale” approach at other restaurants; not this time.
“I was excited about the potential for improvements at Sandbar, but it seemed the Bar Rescue team was more interested in doing what they wanted. Not listening to me, someone that knew exactly what this place needed,” said Albert Borrero, longtime customer and owner since 2007.
Anyone that knows Coconut Grove knew the “rescue” was doomed once Taffer and crew started chatting about 33133’s refined demographic. Sure the Grove is a nice area with a reputable average household income, but that doesn’t mean every restaurant should be Prime 112 or Barton G., that’s why Miami Beach thrives. It seems Taffer’s marketing analysis started and stopped with a quick glance at the per household income. From a strategy standpoint, that’s criminal. Millionaires like to wear flip-flops too, particularly in areas where boating, sailing and fishing are common, i.e. Coconut Grove.
Local residents, affectionately known as “Grovites” most likely cringed as they saw Chef Gavin Murphy introduce scallop ceviche. Gavin, there’s a successful ceviche place across the street.
“This is setting the standard now for your new guest, a different demographic, a more sophisticated demographic, this is what they’re looking for. Okay,” said Chef Murphy.
No, not okay.
Bewilderment hit an all-time high with the introduction of the 500-degree hot stone thingamajig. The Bar Rescue team criticized The Sandbar owner for their smoking fajitas and then introduced smoking hot stones. Portrayed as a disinterested Mr. Magoo, Borrero is more in touch with his bar than it seemed.
“My market is local residents and the people that hang out in the Grove, upper 20’s to lower 40’s people that like to chill. Unfortunately the City ran the college kids out, but the Grove lifestyle is casual and that’s our customer. I thought they would make us more like a Yard House which would have been an effective middle ground, but people hate what they did, there isn’t anyone that said it was good,” said Borrero.
The Bar Rescue crew failed the Sandbar because of their inability to listen to the client and the client’s understanding of their unique challenges. This happens all too often in advertising, public relations and marketing. The Bar Rescue team could have dug a little deeper and thought a little harder. They could have improved the things Sandbar did well, fixed the areas where Sandbar struggled and that would have been a rescue, what happened was a disaster. It’s easy for consultants to do what they’ve always done. It’s hard to create customized campaigns and it’s challenging to overcome unique obstacles.
At least the Bar Rescue team didn’t enforce a dress code, RIP Nikki Beach Coconut Grove.
Anyone interested in picking up multiple hot stones at no charge, please stop by the Sandbar located at 3064 Grand Ave. in the ultra posh and opulent neighborhood of Coconut Grove.
Any personal views expressed are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sandbar. The author did not receive any perks, benefits or compensation from Sandbar.