The local neighborhood watering hole was an age-old tradition in cities and towns across America. Such “dive” bars were often frequented by regulars (repeat local customers who the bartender may well know by name) as well as transient customers who happened to be in town or noticed the inviting bar signage in passing. When long-time Floridian Piers Ikerd was looking to transition from the corporate world in the summer of 2018, he sought more independence and ideally the opportunity to take over and transform an existing business. After many years in retail environments, most recently as a district manager for Ashley Furniture, he looked locally for an appealing business or franchise opportunity. A neighborhood bar in the Temple Terrace, Florida area, called Aces N Eights, caught his attention.
Perhaps this was the kind of challenge Ikerd was looking to take on. Transforming a struggling bar that was located favorably in the vicinity of both the University of South Florida’s sprawling campus and the popular Busch Gardens amusement park offered potential and intrigue. His years in furniture retail convinced him of the importance of attracting and driving customer traffic through the front door. Half the battle was often gaining customer awareness in an increasingly crowded and dispersed marketplace. In many retail establishments, garnering more loyal and frequent patrons resulted in greater revenue and ultimately greater bottom line profits.
Ikerd subsequently pulled in two of his best friends and one of their spouses as investment partners and purchased the bar, rebranding it as The Hungry Dragon Tavern (THDT). These fellow investors shared Ikerds vision of creating a more attractive and welcoming bar, but like him were not exactly sure how to best capture the attention of new customers while simultaneously not only keeping, but increasing, the loyalty of existing patrons. Their work on an initial business plan convinced them that the key to improved profitability would ultimately center on getting more customers in the door who stay a while, had a good time, and would come back again soon.
Could Ikerd and the team transform their new bar into a more popular and profitable establishment? What would be the best approach to take THDT to the next level beyond the changes already made – tweaks to the food and beverage menu, remodeling the interior and changing the bar’s concept? Leveraging marketing knowledge to assess the local market? Sticking to traditional marketing? Increasing social media presence and brand awareness? Utilizing market technology and tools to creatively capture potential customers? The new owners hoped to make the right marketing-related moves to breathe fire and profit into the Hungry Dragon.
Authors: Yamen Elsaid, Sarah Hanson, Chris Lawson, Ivan Montero, Colin Provine
Cite As: Elsaid, Y., Hanson, S., Lawson, C., Montero, I., & Provine, C. (2020). Driving profitability at the Hungry Dragon. Muma Case Review 5(7). 1-26. https://doi.org/10.28945/4565