Senior Jared Blashinsky has promoted and hosted at Miami’s most exclusive clubs. He just recently opened Coconut Grove’s latest go-to bar, Mr. Frogs, and at just 21, the New Jersey native has made quite the name for himself. He recently spoke with us about his experience and plans for the future.
When did you first come up with the idea for Mr. Frog’s?
When I first came to UM [the bar] was called Boardwalk. A year later Boardwalk turned into Grove Central, where my business partner (Joe LoMonaco, also a senior at UM) and I started bartending during the summer following our sophomore year. The owners at the time really let the place fall into disrepair and were eventually shut down for a host of different code violations. Joe and I always saw enormous potential in the venue, it just lacked proper management and the backing of committed ownership.
We really clicked with the main bar manager at the time, Eli Parker (a Miami local), who truly is a genius when it comes to bar logistics and management. Together with Eli, we found an investor to put in the money and time to breathe life into the concept that is Mr. Frogs, a fusion of the dive bar atmosphere that turns into a crazy, out of control South Beach-esque rager at times.
How was the process prior to its opening this past August?
The month prior to opening was insane. We didn’t have our liquor license certificate in hand until about three hours prior to opening the Thursday before classes started. We all worked 18-hour days, sleeping and showering in the office upstairs in order to get the place ready. Joe and I finished hanging the last strobe light at around 10 p.m. opening night, while Eli finally finished tapping all of the kegs and doing inventory on our liquor.
Funny story actually, at around 8 p.m. the entire Grove lost power until around 9:30 p.m., which really sent us into a panic. Keep in mind that a large portion of the bar is outdoors and this was all during the miserable humidity of August in Miami. I’m sure we all lost several pounds of water weight the week before opening.
What jobs/experience have you had in the past that you feel prepared you for opening up your own place?
When I first arrived freshmen year, I really needed a way to make some spending money (and wanted to be able to party), so I started selling wristbands for other promoters. I ended up meeting Joe, who was doing the same thing. We hit it off and decided we could do it better, make more money and have fun doing it. We eventually took everything we’ve learned from the various clubs (Mokai, RoKbar, Mansion, LIV) and bars (Chicago’s, Reno’s, Grove Central) we’ve promoted, hosted and bar-tended at, and parlayed that knowledge into the concept behind Mr. Frogs.
What are you studying and what do you suggest to someone who is looking to gain experience in the entrepreneurial world?
Currently I’m a political science major, focusing on pre-law. I’ll be heading to law school in the fall of 2014 to study entertainment law. As for suggestions for would-be entrepreneurs, I’ve got one word: network. Talk to anybody and everybody you can. Don’t be shy. I’d say 95% of what I’ve accomplished has been because of whom I knew, not necessarily what I knew. The connections you make with other people will be your keys to success.
How do you feel your young age contributes to your success as a business owner? Has it ever been a challenge at times?
I can definitely say that a lot of people look down at my age, especially having worked in clubs and bars being under 21 years old. I think being a younger business owner/manager does have its advantages, though. Young people are more inclined to think outside the box and be a more creative than older, more established professionals that have been in any given business for 10+ years. Where else would new ideas come from?
Do you have any projects in the works and where do you hope to see yourself in the near future?
Right now I’m focusing on Mr. Frog’s and making back our investor’s money. I plan on traveling for a few months after I graduate since I haven’t spent much time outside of the US. I’ll be couch-surfing Europe and the Middle East, staying with friends I’ve met in Miami. After that it’s off to law school and then (fingers crossed) a job with one of the four major talent agencies out in LA.
Finally, any big events planned at Mr. Frogs students at the U should know about?
Look for some big name DJ’s and performers starting in late October/early November. We’ll be announcing our first big booking shortly!