January 24, 2017

Conceptually Speaking (#3)

When I was in college, I took a class called the History of Technology.  The first assignment was to write a short paper on How Something Works.  Really? Anything? Can't we have a tiny bit more guidance?  Nope.  So I began to think. And to think and to think and to think.  Days went by and I came up with an endless number of "things" to write about... and then rejected each one as foolish. I ended up writing a paper on... how a beer keg works.  Yup, of all the "Things" in the world, that's where I landed.  And, surprise!, I got a terrible grade.  I'm not sure I even knew how a keg actually worked! (No Google in those days!)

So when I decided to embark on this bar journey, people started asking me what the "concept" for the bar would be. I would begin to stutter about how it was still in the works and my inner voice would say, "Uhhhh, it's just a... bar?"  Uh-oh.  That was a problem. I needed my hook. My angle.  My "thing."  But coming up with that one perfect idea from the vastness of all potential ideas is not as easy as it would seem - and I was immediately transported back to my History of Technology class. I was screwed.

I really do just want a great neighborhood-like bar that is warm, comfortable and relaxing.  A place to enjoy with your friends, spouse or co-workers, and a place that can foster new relationships.  A place to drink, laugh, tell stories, play some games, ponder life's deepest questions and debate noteworthy topics of our age (like, "Is it possible to swim through a pool filled with mayonnaise?"). And maybe drink some more.  Oh, and I want it to have cool, neat technology embedded throughout.

I also knew that I wanted the bar to be a reflection of my personality. So, for example, a music venue is waaaay out of the question.  But who am I?  Well, without too much soul searching, as it turns out, I am kind of a nerd.  Some who know me would say that I also like to argue - I prefer to use the word "debate" or "engage in witty banter."  Regardless, I wanted some of that to filter into the concept. Oh, and I'm super cool... and Voila! The "nerdy, but cool" bar concept was born.

Alas a "nerdy" bar (even a "cool" nerd) is also not really a complete concept.  But it's the beginning of one. Being the nerd I am, I thought about a way to refine it.  I made a list of desired characteristics:
  • Comfortable
  • Fun
  • Conversational
  • Laughing
  • Witty
  • Lively
  • Debate-y
  • Smart
  • Friendly
  • Cool
  • Thought-provoking
  • Energetic
(Which, in hindsight, kinda reads like the Boy Scout Law.)  In looking at this list and thinking hard, I unearthed the basis of a concept:

The bar will have a decor that is comfortable, cool and relaxed; a place where people can let down their guards and be their true selves.  The general environment will promote lively discourse, encourage debate and will always be thought-provoking.  There may be profound questions or topics posted around the interior.  I imagine a wall with an ever-changing list of the best movies, songs, actors (for example) of all time.  The rules of debate will be known.  Brain-teasing questions will be asked. Strategic (or otherwise) games will be played.  The cocktail and food menu will propagate the theme.  A joyous time will be had by all (yes, even if you are not nerdy nor a debater yourself)!

Defining and executing a concept is a balancing act.  Too much "concept" and you end up potentially too schticky and narrowly focused.  Too little "concept" and you risk not having an identity.  Ultimately, what will dictate success is not the nuances of the concept.  It comes down to a fantastic environment where you are infinitely comfortable not only in the space, but with the people around you.

And now that we are circling around a concept... it's time to revisit the name...



  1. Congrats and good luck! Suggestion for a bar name? Wit.

  2. Krystle Thomsen wrote last comment (thought it would show up!)

    1. Krystle! Wait until next post. It's interactive. You can vote - and I think you'll appreciate the choices. I like that name!