• December 19, 2014

Killeen’s Crescent Lounge celebrates beating the odds

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Posted: Sunday, October 27, 2013 4:30 am

Statistically speaking, Kevin Williams and Anthony Rodriguez have beaten some tough odds. This week marks the second anniversary of the partners’ joint venture — Killeen’s Crescent Lounge.

Nightclub & Bar magazine, the bible of the bar business, asserts: “An estimated 8 of 10 nightclubs will fail during the first year of operation.”

U.S. Census data states another sobering statistic: 31 percent of all small businesses fail after two years.

On a weekday afternoon, the building — at 2100 E. Elms Road — was quiet, brightly lit and just cleaned, ready to open in a few hours as the partners discussed the business.

“It’s not even a club — our vision is a lounge that offers an upscale experience,” Williams said. “We have a 4,000-square-foot building with a capacity of 200 guests.”

Two big reasons for the owners’ success — and a recommendation they would make to any entrepreneur — was they had a plan and were willing to spend money.

Some advice

“Have a good, solid plan — and enough budget,” Williams said. “The unknowns will cost you money.”

Rodriguez discussed their positives and negatives.

“The good part is that you’ll learn a lot. The bad is that you’re not able to forecast (revenue from) a retail business,” Rodriguez said.

As the partners outlined their anniversary bash, a masquerade ball held this Saturday, Williams had a final comment on why the Crescent has, so far, beaten the survival odds.

“Stick-to-it-ive-ness. We’ve just consistently persisted.”

Met in 2001

But the pair spent some time getting to this two-year point.

“Kevin and I met at a friend’s house in 2001,” Rodriguez said, “and later, at a pancake breakfast we discussed the idea of an upscale club.”

Both were excited about the prospect, realizing the scarcity of a premier nightspot in Killeen. “We kicked around different approaches, gave it a lot of thought and discussion,” Williams said.

Then in 2011, a broker brought them an intriguing offer — a 30-plus-year-old commercial building on the south side of East Elms Road.

“It had been the Sports Shack,” Rodriguez said. “It had potential, but there was a lot we had to do to get it ready.”

The two signed the papers and began an epic saga of building codes, architects and construction complexity.

“I became a daily visitor to the city,” Rodriguez said, “and finally got the right contact. We built a new kitchen, which added a second electrical service. Our first architect was unfamiliar with current city codes and that really slowed us down.”

A 750-square-foot cigar lounge with a wall of glass enables smokers to view the bandstand and dance floor, but required its own, dedicated HVAC system so that no co-mingling of air takes place.

The lounge’s liquor license was a surprisingly easy acquisition, they said.

“We got that without a hitch — no long wait or anything,” Williams said. “We actually had it early and were slowed down more by the remodeling.”

No explicit lyrics

Going into its second year, live performance and recorded music spun by disc jockeys are a regular occurrence that are carefully programmed, the partners said.

“We watch the type of music — no explicit lyrics are allowed,” Rodriguez said.

“We keep the DJs in line,” Williams said.

Going forward the lounge wants to grow and diversify its clientele.

“We’d like to be less dependent on Fort Hood,” Williams said. “The fluctuations of government-caused changes; more civilian patrons to balance the up and down of military uncertainty.”

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