It's keeping the same name -- at least for now -- but as of a few weeks ago, Estrela Bartending School has new owners. Local businessman Chris Robbins partnered with three others, including Karsh\Hagan advertising firm co-founder Tom Hagan, to assume ownership of the school from previous owner Tom Lucas.
The transition has been a smooth one, with little to no interruption to the school's classes. In fact, the new owners will keep the framework Lucas had in place for the school. "Tom Lucas did a tremendous job with the curriculum, and we're going to continue the work that he started," Robbins says.
Coursework currently includes classes in professional bartending and wine. "As far as professionals are concerned, we're really the best choice in town," Robbins states.
Estrela is unique, he explains, because, in addition to teaching students how to mix drinks, it teaches students about the industry. "You have to understand how a bar operates financially, and you have to understand inventory, cost control, sanitation and dram shop liability. These are all topics that we cover and that the other schools do not focus on." Robbins adds that Estrela is the only bartending school in the city that focuses on wine.
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Robbins and his partners have ambitious plans for Estrela. "We'd love to franchise it someday. We think it's a terrific candidate for a franchise."
Furthermore, it's a good time to buy into the biz, Robbins says. "I think this really is a good time for an educational venture. A lot of people are going back to school, and for very good reason. In the right place you can make a lot of money too." A successful bartender at a high-end bar, says Robbins, can earn upwards of $80,000 a year.
Interested? The school has recently dropped the rates to $250 per class to draw students in, and the first class under the new ownership starts August 16. The school is located at 925 South Niagara Street. For more information, call 303-329-2191.