Tartan Day & I Nearly Was A Bar Owner

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In Hoboken we have a history of taking a perfectly good day of national pride and turning it into an excuse to drink. St. Patrick's Day is so 1986...welcome to Tartan Day 2007!

And like many other days of national pride, we also celebrate it early around here. The real Tartan Day is April 6. Apparently it is April 5th in Hoboken.

Tartan day was in full force at The Dubliner, with a bagpiper, lots of people in kilts, and comely Glenlivet sponsor girls outside the pub, looking like they wished they wore a sweater this frigid morning.

Then I remembered - I nearly BOUGHT that bar a few months ago.

Ok, i'm exaggerating a bit. I wasn't going to be THE only bar owner, but I happened to meet someone who was an avid reader of my website one day.

It was quite strange, actually. I wrote a post one day a few months back, and a reader saw it and emailed me to introduce himself. I recognized his name, he wrote to me a few times over the lifetime of the blog. He told me that he was getting a group of people together to buy The Dubliner and after reading my entry thought i'd be the kind of guy interested in taking a chance with a group of other investors on the property. My each minority investor would provide 5-10% each of the total cost, and he was going to provide the bulk of the upfront cash and work as owner and manager.

I had a lot of questions for him. We emailed for a week, going over different details about his experience, the funds, what the other owners responsibilities would entail - which seemed to be mostly about promoting the bar. Truth be told, he seemed like a decent guy, but at the same time it was just a bit too risky to invest with someone I barely knew. It certainly had an upside, but my spidey senses were just saying "Don't do it".

Groups of bar owners isn't anything new in this town. The bar "Nine" has 9 owners (hence the name? or it is that they are at 333 Washington - 3+3+3=9?)040507b.jpg

After about a month of discussions with the guy, I backed out. The situation was a small investment, but I just didn't feel it. The Dubliner had some capacity issues. The first floor had a capacity of 57 (I have to check the EXACT numbers, but I remember them being extremely low) and the 2nd floor had a capacity of approximiately 75, I just felt that was ridiculously low for a bar that sized. You put 130 people into that bar and it will look empty on a parade day. Also the bar was in dire need to be redesigned to make it more "Hoboken Friendly". The first floor, with the plexiglass outdoor seating I thought was terrible. The common room needed fixes and the 2nd floor was underutilized.

Also the question of "Can I bartend there" came up, and I was promised a shift, it was a bit too murky for me about what, exact, shift I could get. Both the 1st and 2nd floor bars are tiny. I am in the school of thought as many bar owners - cute bartenders equals business. I'm a guy. Guys are a dime a dozen in Hoboken. So I didn't want to shoot myself in the foot, by asking to bartend as a minority owner, and screw us by not generating as much business as a cuter girl bartender might. It wasn't like the bars were all that conducive to having two bartenders behind them like Mikie Squared.

Bottom line is that it just wasn't for me. Mistake? Well, as it turned out The Dubiner *was* for sale, and then once negotations began (after I backed out) between the potentional buyers and the present owners, a series of issues popped up and the sale fell apart. So, it wasn't to be anyhow.

I guess it was good, in a way, that I didn't get into the bar business - I am closing on my condo today. "Jason Phillips" asked in my comments the following: "i worry that you may not have done your due diligence when finding this condo. 1st the place is 100 square feet less than advertised and now you find out there is a problem with mice. i think you let your enthusiasm for finding your own place get in the way of rational thought. is it too late to back out?"

My answer would be that yes, I am enthused about the apartment. I went there the first day and walked through it, with a paper saying it was 750 sq ft. I looked around and thought "Wow, I like the size of this place."

When my agent told me that the listing agent made a mistake, and it was really 650 sq ft, it didn't shrink in size, except on paper. I knew after walking through the apartment that it would work for me, since I was a single bachelor. Four or five years from now, when I am ready to leave, it should be a great place to either rent or sell to another working professional.040507c.jpg

Like my fellow blogger The Blonde wrote, "I work in real estate, and you cannot put a guaranteed price on sq. footage, whether it is residential or commercial. Their are averages, but you shouldn't nit pick. If you are paying less then what the other units in the building are selling for, then you are already making money on it. Making a stink over it can kill the deal, and then someone else will come in and scoop it up. It will be your loss then....100 sq.ft. is not that big of a deal. You like the place, and it is the space that you want so just buy it."

I happen to agree with that philosophy. The key points to the condo was its potentional, and had a lot of positives in my mind. It was in a very good location, about 6 blocks to the PATH in downtown Hoboken. It was concrete poured, so it was much quieter than new flimsy construction, where you can hear your neighbor in high heels walking above you. It has low maintenence and the taxes were about half of what I have seen with the new construction (yes, I am aware of the possible changes to that). My parking, which is transferable to the new owner, would be literally across the street for $25 more a month in rent than what I was paying at the Monroe Arts Center, which was a solid 7 minute walk to my car (it doesn't sound like a lot, but it was).

The negatives: Mice? Certainly a concern, but I think it is true for many buildings in Hoboken. I'm not sure how I could have known about it, unless I started knocking on strangers doors saying "Hi! You don't know me, but I was looking to buy in your building...I had a few questions for you..."Now that i'm moving in, you can bet your bottom dollar that i'm going to be all over the management and the residents to eradicate & control the problem. Electric only? I will miss gas heat and gas appliances, but it wasn't a deal breaker. Closet space? A bit tighter, but I think installing EZ closets will help a lot. Square footage? I agree that this was a big oversight. I simply took what the listing agent wrote at face value, and by the time it was revealed that the sq footage was wrong, it was 2 weeks later and I was doing the home inspection! I was already picking out new appliances, lining up a contractor and getting a professional painter, and friend, scheduled to make the place nicer. Had I caught it earlier, I may have balked. In a way, i'm glad that I didn't because I have been sitting on the sideline for the last 4 years, always saying, "The market is going down THIS year."

Of course now i'm watching the whole sub-prime mortgage fiasco and laughing a bit. I know the days of real estate gains are over, but I am just happy that I got a great mortgage rate and i'm finally a homeowner. I don't plan on selling my home anytime soon. Especially that i'm now 2 blocks away from Mulligan's bar, it should be a lot more fun next season with The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken!! Go Birds!!

Happy Easter and Passover, everyone. Have a safe weekend.

1 Comment

It makes me happy to hear that The Dubliner was up for sale so fast (well, when it comes to bars in Hoboken, maybe a few years is not that fast) because I'm still angry that Gerino's is gone. I mean, I wonder whose bright idea it was to change one of the last remaining old school Italian restaurants in Hoboken (that actually had great food, unlike some others that will go nameless) and turn it into a low-cap bar. Because THAT'S what Hoboken needed -- another bar.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on April 5, 2007 2:02 PM.

Someone Needs to Call Out David Lereah & My New Furry Neighbors was the previous entry in this blog.

Easter weekend as a homeowner (or is that condo-owner?)... is the next entry in this blog.

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