What Happened To All The Bands?
A customer recently asked me a good question: Why doesn’t Hannah’s have live music any more? He recalls the days when we had a band every weekend, sometimes two bands, and notes that there were usually good crowds to see them.
The answer is all those bands made me lose lots of money.
Here’s how: A good band costs about 500 bucks. We found that a good band could increase gross sales by roughly the amount we paid them. Given that our net, like all restaurants, is a small fraction of the gross, we were taking $500 off the bottom line in order to add a few dollars to the bottom line. Yikes! We were busier than we would have been without the band, but the band’s expense made us lose money on that extra business. Not smart, I soon realized. Restaurants can’t afford to take losses like that when taxes, rents, and payroll expenses are always going up. Confusing being busy with making money is what crushes inexperienced folks who open bars and restaurants.
Musicians understand this issue, and they have a solution: Cover charges. Using the above example, if I charged a $5 cover and 100 folks came to see the band, my overhead would be covered before the first note was played. In order to do this I would need a separate area for the music, which I just don’t have. Blocking off archways within Hannah’s to separate the rooms won’t fly with the fire marshall. Also I’m just not comfortable telling my longtime regulars that they suddenly have to pay to come in.
So Brent, the bottom line is I don’t see a way to have live music on a regular basis without losing money. If anyone has a viable idea to make bands work, I’m all ears.