This will likely be the toughest post I’ve ever had to write.
In short. I’m giving the sports bar I am currently operating back to it’s prior owner and walking away from it. For practical purposes, let’s just call this bar “KSB”.
I’m going to try and avoid all of the salaciousness that would be all too easy to include and help explain my decision; and believe me, there’s plenty sordidness to go around. It’s low-hanging fruit. While it would make for great reading in a Cozumel “tell all”, professionally speaking, I only have control over my own decisions and will accept responsibility for them.
I cannot control what happened before I took on KSB but I refuse to let those events haunt me today and into the future.
Instead, I’ll talk about several practical, financial and personal reasons for giving it back – chiefly among them:
KSB is a TERRIBLE financial investment unless the owner has the passion and the will to invest tens of thousands more dollars into this place in order to give it a decidedly new look, feel and theme. Even then, I doubt it would ever provide me with enough income to support my own family.
There. I said it. “Passion.”
I don’t have it for this place.
No passion for what it is today or what it could be tomorrow and certainly not nearly enough to make the needed investment in money and time to see it through.
Even then, the location really does suck. There’s no getting around that. It’s uncovered and open air. In the Caribbean where it is very hot, this is a problem. In the Caribbean where the only thing as certain as sunshine is rain, this is even more of a problem. There’s no chance of putting a roof on this place and the family that owns the plaza where KSB is located couldn’t give a shit about investing in the many cosmetic repairs or getting the plaza rented out here, which would bring more people and greatly help the bar.
KSB doesn’t really appeal to the local Mexicans, again I’m not going to go into why – lowing hanging fruit and all of that, and it’s well known why on the island. The location is too far from the throngs of cruise ship tourists. For all practical reasons, this leaves the local expat crowd looking for native sports programming, especially NFL. As most sports bars go, KSB is dependent on sports programming and as more digital streaming options become available, more venues are able to show these sports or, more likely, the many retired expats without a lot of money anyway can stay at home and watch their favorite games. KSB is no longer the only place to consume sports programming from the United States, a monopoly which the bar used to enjoy.
As my dear friend and best advisor through my tenure here said, “You cannot survive on a 14 year old bar concept on an island that has grown and evolved while the bar has not.”
I readily admit that taking over KSB was a “bucket list” decision. Owning a bar was always on the list of things I wanted to do. The bar essentially fell into my lap as a “try before you buy” agreement and the only investment I really had to make was time and money spent running the bar and beginning the process of cleaning it up. So, in my mind, there was no question whether or not I would take the opportunity to own one of the “legacy” bars here in Cozumel; one highly regarded as the #1 sports bar on the island for many, many years.
I shit you not; Until today when I had to dig into my own pocket to pay for our $1,000usd power bill and $500usd for the manager I hired, I literally had no “skin in the game” except for what I wanted to put into it. I think that is a major part of the problem, too. I really didn’t have the motivation to have to make it work. There was no “do or die” like I had in the past building my private investigation agency or the continuing education and eMedia business before I was able to sell it and semi-retire.
Quite frankly, the only reason I’ve waited this long into the slow season to finally come to this decision (forgone conclusion?) is the excellent team around me. Every leader feels the responsibility to care for his or her people and to recognize that their livelihood depends directly on their employment. To a certain extent they’re well-being comes first and up to this point I can honestly say that it has. I’ve not paid myself a dime but, instead, have had to make personal “loans” to the bar – mostly to meet payroll.
Early on I surrounded myself with people who knew the bar and restaurant business, inside and out, and everyone performed largely as I expected they would.
Everyone except for me.
I “over-hired” hoping that these fine folks would run the bar, make great decisions and build business while allowing me to continue building the few online businesses that I know will provide me the type of income and potential future I dream of for my wife and daughters.
That has not worked out the way I thought it would.
Even though each of them works his and her asses off, I am still having to make decisions at the most granular level and being away from the bar doesn’t work – believe me, I’ve tried. As many successful bar-owner veterans have told me over the last few months, this is very much a “hands-on, must be there” business. For some silly reason, I thought I could hire my way out of that. Well, they can all tell me they told me so. I hired a manager but this place needs a leader.
As a result, and as hard as it is to admit, the bar has come first in my life even at the detriment to my own family because of the time required to be here and lead the team. This difficult realization certainly plays into why I am leaving the bar behind as well.
My wife and daughters have to come first.
The bar grossed 887 pesos, or about $54 is U.S. dollars, the other day. That’s before any of the costs – labor, food, alcohol, electricity, gas, etc. etc., which means the bar actually lost about $75. That’s sort of the reality for this place in the next 4 months; sports are largely over until September and the island is in a glide slope towards the slowest part of the year.
I doubt I’d be able to make it financially on what the bar will ever make, even if I invested more time, money and most importantly, my heart and soul into it. It also brings us back to a location dependent lifestyle, something which my wife and I chose to rail against when we sold all of our belongings and moved out of the United States.
The bottomline is this: owning this bar will never afford me the opportunity to continue giving my family the sorts of experiences and opportunities we’ve enjoyed these last 5 years.
The smart choice, really the only logical choice, is to suck it up now, take the inevitable hit to my ego for not being the raging success I expected to be and walk away from KSB. Avoid losing more time, money and energy here and focus on building the location independent business of which I am capable. Even if I am spending 2 times more waking hours working on that new business, at least I am doing it in the presence of my family and the future financial possibilities are far more in line with the required investment.
I have to believe that the employees here will be fine when (if?) the previous owner regains control.