Thursday, December 3, 2009

Putting a Steak in the Ground

In my last blog post, I talked about the Brett Favre Steakhouse in Green Bay, Wisc. While I don’t know anything about the place or its finances, I can’t help but wonder if it represents a cautionary tale for us as investors.

Chances are the steakhouse was once considered a “can’t miss” investment. I imagine the pitch went something like this, “This is a sure thing. We’re talking about a restaurant named after the most beloved athlete on the community’s most beloved team. We’ll just fill the place with Packers memorabilia and the food will fly out there.”

I bet it did, too. The place was probably buzzing with excitement, including an occasional visit by Favre himself. It probably felt like it would never end.

But nothing is forever. Favre waffled on his retirement, then clashed with management. By the time he signed with the New York Jets, I bet the crowds in Green Bay were already thinning out. “Don’t worry,” backers probably said. “Brent has a lot of goodwill in this town.”

Judging by what I saw on my recent visit, they slapped a couple Jets photos on the wall and proceeded as if nothing had really changed. What they hadn’t banked on was Favre signing earlier this year with the Packers’ most hated rival, the Minnesota Vikings. No way to spin that one, which is probably why I didn’t see Favre in purple on the wall.

Favre went from beloved to persona non grata. An idea that seemed inspired now seems shortsighted.

Sure, Brett Favre’s Steakhouse still serves a pretty mean Brett Favre signature steak. The restaurant is far from deserted from what I saw, even on a weekday. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s far from its heyday, too. After all, there’s not much of a chance of Brett dropping by these days. Even if he did, I’m not sure he’d bolster sales very much.

I imagine entrepreneurs pitching a new idea now. “It’s this theme restaurant,” they’re probably saying. “It’s going to be huge. Aaron Rodgers is on board.”

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