It's the worst time of the year for the nightlife industry -- basically, you can count on Halloween being great, and New Year's Eve being great, and absolutely everything in between the two being terrible, especially in December. Everybody is broke or traveling or anticipating same. You also can't do any promotion for things happening in January or February, because New Year's Eve is like the goddamned Singularity -- nobody can even imagine what's on the other side of it so they won't even think about that until it has happened.
So into this dead zone comes the new restaurant and bar, at the tail end of a very expensive construction project. We have run out our budget, even after having deeply triaged the project, saving lots of things to be done "later".
Business at the new restaurant has been terrible. Business at the new club has been beyond terrible. Like, the attendance on many nights has been so low that we lost money by being open at all.
We're not even getting much daytime business at the new restaurant, which I still feel should be a pretty good location for weekday lunch business. Some of this may be attributable to the fact that the place isn't very visible. The complete mess that the condo construction project next door has made of our sidewalk isn't helping (and that mess probably isn't going away for two or three years); and the fact that our outside signage is terrible and hard to see is definitely not helping -- but, there's currently no budget for better signs either.
This is the part where everyone starts gushing platitudes: "Oh, it's early days! It will pick up! It's December!" Yeah, I know, that is probably true. But opening a second 24 hour restaurant means that I've got like 20 or 25 additional employees now, and oddly enough, they'd all like me to pay them. Telling me, "I'm sure it'll be better in February" doesn't help with that whole "payroll" problem.
In addition to the increased number of staff, we still have a ridiculously high turnover in restaurant employees -- either because we keep firing people for being just plain really bad at their jobs, or because they quit for whatever reason. Every time you hire a new person, that person costs you like twice as much salary for a couple of weeks while they're being trained, so having a high turnover is really expensive. If we could find just like... ten really competent people who would actually stick around, that would be great.
In attendance-related news, we finally killed our weekly Tuesday party, Sequence. The attendance when Sequence was at DNA was terrible, so we moved it over to the more appropriately-sized room at Codeword, and the attendance there was even worse, so we finally just threw in the towel. We kept slogging away at it for so long because we just had to believe that there is demand out there for an 18+ weeknight dance party, since there are almost none of those in this town. If you're 20 and you want to go out on a weeknight in San Francisco, you're pretty much shit out of luck. But, no. The people have spoken and they're not interested. Bummer.
This last Saturday we did a one-off Death Guild over at Codeword. It was a fun party, and pretty well attended. And all of our staff, and most of our staff's friends, would love it if we just did that all the time, which means that this is a conversation I had repeatedly that night:
- "This is my first time here, and this is great! You should do this party always!"
"We can't. If we did, then you people, who spend your entire lives at Cat Club, would go there first and then come here, or vice versa. Which means everybody makes half as much money, and it's terrible all around."
"Oh, yeah, huh, I totally would do that."
That night I was talking to a friend and used the phrase "mainstream dance party", and my friend said, "you mean like, eighties?" Because that's what mainstream means to you when you're a 40something goth. My response may have been overly heated.
Well, here are some photos from a few events over the last couple of months.
Hey, did you know that last month was DNA Lounge's Thirtieth anniversary of its original opening, back in 1985? Yeah, neither did anyone else. About fourteen months ago we started brainstorming about what we could do to mark the occasion. Our hope was to have a full week of live shows of bands that merited a $30 ticket and that had some kind of connection to DNA history, or the 80s or 90s or both. I came up with a list of 30 or 40 ideas, and our booker came up with others, and after pushing at this for a year, you know what we ended up with? Fucking Everclear. And that was a coincidence anyway. So we just ignored the whole thing. [Insert party noisemaker sound here.]
By the way, how is Second Life still a thing?