TRIO opened in May of 2006 and included: a reincarnation of Beijingâ€™s oldest non-hotel bar, Frankâ€™s Place, at ground level; a seventy-seat New York grill and piano bar, Park Grill, up top; and the high-end wine-centric The Cellar in, no surprise, the basement.
Frankâ€™s Place is doing fine, with improvements to the deck helping, but The Park Grill and The Cellar have struggled. TRIO management reports the latter has been rented to a Korean company that operates eight wine bars in Seoul under the name Le Cave.
The Cellar was unique to Beijing, with pint-sized suits of armor and wrought-iron doors up front, an arched roof, stucco and brickwork inside, and, for members of Club 88, on-site storage space for 32 bottles. ASC Fine Wines was the sole TRIO wine supplier.The idea behind Club 88: with an 8888 kuai initial investment and 3888 kuai annual fee, members would receive free wine dinners and cooking classes, discounts on wine, and the on-site storage space (lock, key and brass name plate included). The market for this turned out to be smaller than expected and, in this drinker’s humble opinion, a menu where the cheapest bottle was 600 kuai prevented walk-in traffic (dozens of cheaper wines were later added to the menu).
By renting The Cellar to another company, TRIO management can focus on its bread and butter – Frankâ€™s Place – while the new partners provide added marketing and sales power. This might end up being one of those “win-win” situations.
“The result is not that different from the original concept,â€ says one TRIO investor. â€œWeâ€™ve just teamed up with strategic partners.”
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