Neighborhood Watch

Preparing For The Renaissance

Their hard-won experience now permitted Rogers and Barbero to translate their notion of a modestly priced place into a host of secondary decisions. Costs would be pared by having no table covers or linen napkins to launder and by not going overboard on renovations. Potential profits would be raised by junking the extensive wine list and selling mainly beer and margaritas, on which the markup was higher. The risk would be minimized by taking in a third partner as the chef, a man who had originally started as a salaried chef at R&B and had gone on to Cafe Luxembourg on the Upper West Side. His presence would trim Pat and Bob's potential but would also reduce the amount they would have to invest and the weekly salaries they would have to pay. All this would be done in order to price entrees at less than $10.

After proposing and rejecting hundreds of suggestions for a name, the partners chose one reflective of the new establishment's stripped-down style: Food Bar would resemble "a nice diner." R&B closed on April 12, and the partners quickly dismantled the interior, brought in chrome and gray Formica tables and plain chairs; Food Bar opened on April 26. It was full the first night, and the flood of customers has hardly ebbed since.

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Neighborhood Watch.

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