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New "high-scale" biker bar..!!!!
From the Chronicle:
EASY STREET RIDERS
Two wheels, deep pockets
Biker bar offers an upscale take on the concept
By DAVID KAPLAN
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
A biker bar near River Oaks opens today.
But "you won't see Hells Angels cracking beer bottles over each others' heads," noted Scott Lutwak, president of Crome.
Crome is meant for RUBs, he said. That's short for Rich Urban Bikers.
Unlike biker bars in outlying areas, Crome has a slate and chrome water fountain and valet parking.
A typical biker bar sells lots of Bud and chips. Crome will serve martinis and lobster quesadillas.
Displayed throughout the upscale bar are high-end choppers, priced as high as $60,000.
Crome, on Shepherd between Alabama and Westheimer, isn't just a swanky lounge. It is also a marketing vehicle for selling choppers.
Adjoining the bar is a mini-showroom featuring Big Dog and other chopper brands.
There is something very Houston about Crome, which was apparent when Lutwak gave a tour.
"The party will be out here," he said while standing on the back patio overlooking a valet service parking lot, which will allow patrons to see who is arriving on what wheels.
Instead of gazing at boats like they do in Kemah, the Crome crowd will admire approaching Harley-Davidson and Big Dog bikes, mixed in with the Ferraris and Porsches, Lutwak said.
Feeling at home
Lutwak, 38, will probably feel at home at Crome. Tanned and buff, he has silver combed-back hair. He arrived in a Range Rover, leaving his Harley and Porsche at home. His muscles are toned at Fit, an upscale gym he founded last year.
Lutwak's partners in Crome are Lee Hayes and Bert Williams, owners of Big Dog Motorcycles of West Houston, an 8-year-old chopper dealership, and Mark Gray, president of oil-field supply company South Coast Supply Co.
The partners envision Crome as an entertaining way to sell choppers inside the Loop. They also hope RUBs and others will order lots of drinks and bar food.
A chopper, for those who didn't see Easy Rider, is a motorcycle with customized handlebars, low seat, over-extended front fork and fat rear tire.
It's a "long, low and mean machine," Hayes said, not meant for long drives — more of a "look at me" vehicle.
Choppers are a growing segment of the motorcycle industry, although their sales are still a fraction of the market. Harley-Davidson will produce about 300,000 motorcycles this year, Hayes said, compared to the 12,000 choppers of various brands that will be made.
The chopper craze reignited four years ago, fueled by shows such as American Chopper on the Discovery Channel.
Big Dog Motorcycles of West Houston represents Big Dog, the sales leader among choppers, as well as Wild West, Saxon and Bourget.
Last year, Big Dog Motorcycles of West Houston was among the largest Big Dog dealers in the U.S. Its choppers range in price from $24,000 to $60,000.
Crome is a $1 million project, Lutwak said, twice what he initially projected.
Combining a motorcycle dealership with an upscale lounge is an unusual marketing strategy.
But it's a good concept for getting people in for the first visit, said Betsy Gelb, professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of Houston's Bauer College of Business.
Any return business, she said, depends on "the competence of the business plan and staff to make it an experience worth repeating. Will they keep bringing in new choppers? Will the bar offer an experience they can't find at any other bar in town?"
Lutwak said he enjoys finding new niches in the marketplace.
An early start
He seems to be a born entrepreneur. At 16, he sold bootleg T-shirts with slogans such as "Where's the Beef" at a flea market in Chicago. The next summer he hired friends to sell at 10 other spots.
He is the founder of the 6-year-old restaurant.com, a dot-com survivor. Originally, the business was a national online dining guide. It didn't work, so he reinvented it.
Restaurant.com became, in his words, a "cash-free marketing program for restaurants designed to put butts in seats."
About 6,000 restaurants participate.
Restaurant.com provides restaurants with services such as the building of Web sites and production of stored-value plastic gift cards, at no charge to the restaurants.
In return, the restaurants give his company credit, which is turned into gift certificates. On its Web site, restaurant.com offers a $25 restaurant gift certificate for $5 to $10.
"Basically, we're selling money," Lutwak said.
Fitness for professionals
Last year, he opened a fitness club in the River Oaks area called Fit, catering to inside-the-Loop young professionals. His partner is former Enron Chief Financial Officer Jack Tompkins.
Boasting 4,000 members, Fit features high-end workout equipment, velvet couches and 18 flat-screen TVs.
On Wednesday, the night before the official opening, Lutwak hosted a party at Crome for Fit members.
A concept somewhat similar to Crome opened in Florida last month, although it isn't as ritzy.
Hollywood Choppers in Hollywood, Fla., is a combination chopper showroom, beer and wine bar, T-shirt shop, tattoo parlor and cigar counter and is on the grounds of the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
Crome is more targeted for the glitzy set in the 30 to 55 age range.
During peak hours, Crome's biggest private room will offer bottle-service only. For $225, Lutwak said, a table gets a bottle of, say, Grey Goose, carafes of grapefruit, cranberry and orange juice, a bowl of strawberries — all on a silver tray — and a bucket of ice. Bottle service is big in Las Vegas and other cities, and it is catching on in Houston, Lutwak said.
Most mixed drinks will cost $7.50.
The reason he spent so much to build Crome is that "people of River Oaks have higher expectations."
He imagines his typical customers to be couples who after dining at nearby Fleming's Prime Steakhouse are "looking for a place to go to get a little nutty."
What if outlaw bikers show up?
"If they're willing to pay our prices for beer," Lutwak said, "they're welcome to come in."
Views 839 Comments 22
|07-25-2006, 07:15 AM||#21|
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Cut n Shoot
Feedback Rating: (3)
edit for the "Oh Snap!" its an old thread and the joint is gone! hahahahhaa, I was like the amazin' kreskin with that one:laughing6
[COLOR="Lime"][B]Highway HorrorS c.c.[/B][/COLOR]
I respect scootertrash because well... He's like the Jesus of building and fixing .
|07-25-2006, 07:18 AM||#22|
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: back n H-Twn
Feedback Rating: (0)
who you calling "ruffian"?
"I get a total charge out of inspiring others to follow their dreams and not to fear change. Embrace it. Realize that money isn't the end-all, be-all. What is important, what really has value, is Time. As motorcyclists, we all face increased risks on the road, and on the track. Do something with your time; don't have a bag full of regrets when the train comes to a stop. "