If one remembers, three weeks ago, I wrote about the bad decisions that Serb Hall had made. Two weeks later, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finally got around the story. This past Friday, I thought I'd take a slightly different route home, and go past Serb Hall to see how they were doing.
I couldn't believe my eyes. At 5:45 p.m., when they are usually in high gear, and it's hard to find a parking spot, the lot was almost empty. I pulled in and I counted a whole 27 cars. The little lot directly next to the building was only a third full. The big overflow lots were empty. The drive-thru lane had three cars in it.
Later that evening, I called one of the waitresses at Serb Hall, with whom my family have become friends. She told me that she served four tables during her entire shift. That's it. Four tables. She also told me that half the waitresses have been laid off for the entire month of July at least.
I realize that Summerfest opened this past weekend, and that summers are usually slower for them due to festivals, cookouts and people going up north, but it has never, ever had that kind of impact before.
I only wonder how long they will continue on this course of folly. If they needed to raise the fish fry a couple of bucks, I'm sure they would have lost some customers, but the regulars would have still gone there. Other restaurants are going up in price, or switching to a different kind of fish, but I haven't heard or seen of any kind of decline like this anywhere else. The management at Serb Hall will either have to change their business strategy, or they will be killing off their Friday night fish fry.
In comparison, Shakey's, which is closing tomorrow, has been going crazy with business. From the WestAllisNOW community paper:
The Shakey's Pizza franchise could only have continued its West Allis location if it ended its buffet and switched to a pizza-only menu, owner Tom Miller said today.
"We've been doing this too long, and I think it would be too difficult for us to convert to a pizza restaurant and maintain the level of sales," he said.
Since the closing was announced, the restaurant has been packed every day,
Miler said. About a half-dozen people were waiting outside for about 15 minutes before the restaurant opened at 11 a.m. today.
About an hour later, empty tables were hard to find as the restaurant was filled with people wanting one last taste of Shakey's.
Here, the franchise is telling the owners that they should fix what wasn't broken. The restaurant owners were smart enough to know that that this wouldn't work, and took their money and ran. I can't say that I blame them.
Too bad the owners of Shakey's can't take over Serb Hall's operations. At least they know how to run a business, besides into the ground.