The Alinea Group is one of the premier restaurant groups in Chicago. They understood the problem with most bars: Operations are based solely on economics. Cocktails tend to be a commodity, quantity is prioritized over quality, and staffing is lean. The bartender takes the order, makes the drinks, serves, takes payment, and moves on.
In 2011, The Alinea Group opened its own bar called The Aviary. Their "restaurant for drinks" concept was different. The Aviary:
- Limited the number of customers each night
- Prepared cocktails in a kitchen and segregated duties
- Hired bartenders who took their job very seriously
These changes made a huge difference in the experience that a bar could deliver. The Aviary was named Outstanding Bar Program in the U.S. by the James Beard Foundation in 2013 and is frequently featured on The World’s 50 Best Bar list.
In investing, we can and should learn from success stories in other industries.The Alinea Group did things differently to optimize their approach for a positive outcome.
What are some things you can do differently to more effectively pursue your financial goals?
You might be looking to improve your investment approach. Or maybe you're uncertain about retirement and "the big picture." Consider taking a page out of The Aviary's book by implementing the below:
- Limit the things that compete for your spending dollars. Identify three or four priorities (Travel, home, retirement, kids, etc.) to spend your money on, and stop spending on the stuff that's not meaningful to you. If having a nice car isn't important to you but a down payment for a condo down is, allocate accordingly.
- Prepare by getting your finances in order, and do it consistently. Review your finances for 1-2 hours every month and set up a systematic investment plan that automatically invests your excess cash. If you're actively planning for retirement, have a roadmap in place to help get you there.
- Take it seriously. Evaluate your investment allocation and retirement outlook now instead of putting it on the back burner. Doing the right things today will pay dividends towards your financial outlook in the future.
On the surface, mixed drinks and financial planning don't have much in common. But by making a few positive changes, one might help you afford the other.
A few drinks from my visit to The Aviary last year.