The fifth episode of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover Miss T visits Avanti Salon in Boston, Massachusetts. Owned by the love child of Woody Allen and Rick Moranis, it is located on Newbury Street, the “5th Avenue” of the town named Bean.
Keymaster, he is not.
When Tabatha walks down the tree-lined street, past it’s famous restaurants and bars, criss-crossing the Freedom Trail and sashays into the heart of Red Sox nation, she comes upon one salon that’s less exclusive than the rest… without the aid of a stiff of shot liquAHH, she faces down her newest challenge.
Sometimes you want to go…. where everybody knows… everybody? Anybody?
Tabatha stands outside and calls into Alex who is manning the phones, he clamors downstairs to meet the mythical mistress and tell her about the demise of his salon…
Are you a God?
Tabatha is ready to talk to Alex about the state of his salon:
“Why did you ask for my help?” Tabatha asks Alex… “I’m responsible for a big staff. They come and go as they please… I just can‘t control them.”
Alex Moranis is losing money although he really doesn’t understand his overhead or his debt. He is sick of managing and I doubt he was ever effective… he works behind the chair and would rather the salon just run itself. He’s sick of dealing with his unprofessional staff.
Tabatha wants to get a sense of the Boston scene. Moranis says that Newbury Street is an exclusive area, very upscale, with a lot of salons competing in a small area. Boston Magazine publishes a “Best of Boston” list every year, but Moranis’ Avanti Salon has never made the cut.
Tabatha rolls the footage and shows Alex the shots of his empty salon.
Avanti is empti.
She asks why it’s empty. He’s happy to blame the recession, but before he could “ummmm” long enough to come up with another excuse TC rolls footage of one of Moranis’ competitors were the front desk the poppin’ like a Sam Adams stand at Fenway.
The next batch of footage is cued up and it shows the salon floor. An Avanti stylist has actually pulled in a client, unfortunately her station is right next to the break area, which is exposed and adjacent to the floor. So as one stylist is mid-consultation, another is smacking her lips and wiping her mouth with a roll of toilet paper in the bar section of the Avanti Saloon. Tabatha is disgusted and Alex is mildly embarrassed, if not margionally committed to seeing that change.
You should see where they installed the urinals.
We meet Janida. JanJ anhas rolled in to the salon in her club gear. She’s been out all night and came in wearing the same clothes she wore yesterday.
Like Snooki but with a client base.
Next up is Priscilla who fancies herself a professional artist, but is really just a prissy pain in the ass. She’s highlighting a client, and has them handing her the foils (instead of the four — at last count — assistants milling about with nothing to do but dream up how to incorporate “Nomar” into their next tattoo.) Priscilla is not only making her client work, she’s also lecturing her on the way to hand her the foils.
There’s an additional tax for self-service.
“So you’d prefer to let bad behavior go than rock the boat with her, even if she breaks the rules,” Miss T says to Moranis. He offers a noncommittal huff and nod in response. He knows things are bad, people are unprofessional and unproductive but doesn’t seem to want to face these fools down or really upset himself about it.
In the next batch of footage Stylist Rob leaves his client in the hands of Assistant Rob. Assistant Rob disappears as the client is sitting at the sink with color on her head and no one to attend to her to make sure her hair color doesn’t go from Reese Witherspoon to Nick Nolte, before the end of her service.
In the most action we’ve seen thus far, Alex asks Assistant Rob to apologize to Stylist Rob — however Assistant Rob decides to bolt across the street like a Yankee fan on opening day. He would have had gotten a more professional response from a rabid squirrel, but this is passable behavior in Avanti Salon, because Alex lets it fly with no repercussions.
Pretty Please. With sugar and hops on top?
Tabatha makes Alex admit that he’s never fired anyone. It’s clear that Alex is just a wimp. Tabatha takes the keys and enters Avanti Salon. She faces the Avanti Staff and tells them she enforces rules, so she’s going to change everything. She jumps on Janida first.
You, in the body glitter…
“Janida what did you do wrong today?” She knows she came in straight from partying and she may still be drunk.
Rob didn’t apologize yet, “do it now” commands Tabatha. And the thick-necked guido rushes over like it’s last call at Karma.
Tabatha lets all the secrets loose, she know the assistants don’t do anything and she knows that Prissy-illa sacrifices customer service. No on in Avanti is a team player, which is why the business is so poor.
Time fo Alex to give TC a tour. Despite having four assistants milling about the salon, no one cleans. The shelves are dusty. The dead-eyed lead assistant says, “to heeeh Taaahbatha say it was gAAHna be a rude AWAHkening. I knUUUW we wURRHt doin’ what we wURRh spoo’sta.” Boston dialect is exhausting to transcribe… and I’m from Jersey!
Get to work Zazu!
The break room shouldn’t be exposed, it’s not a pretty sight.
Tabatha would have an easier time teaching Zule table manners than teaching the Avanti staff professional decorum.
The washer and dryer are broken, they just head to the Charles to beat the towels clean on a rock. Or not at all.
Tabatha heads to Janida’s station and finds it filthy. “You’re a joy aren’t you,” she says to her as JJ stares at Tabatha’s deconstruction of her station.
That looked clean under the strobe lights.
The next day at the staff meeting, Janida is the first to speak and tell Tabatha that she cried herself to sleep last night because Tabatha went way to far. (Meanwhile we’ve been waiting all season for her to reduce someone to fits of hysterics.)
Tabatha doesn’t address Janida’s complaint, she moves on to say that Newbury Street has reputation for being very high end and that’s not what she sees in this salon. (Although they don’t go for the turkey and use the line “definition of low rent” three episodes in a row — damn.)
Moving on, what’s Alex like as a boss? He’s great because he allows them to do anything. Prissy-illa jumps in to say that Alex doesn’t manage the assistants, but Assistant Rob is ready to beat back the beast. Priss is a bitch to the assistants. She’s doesn’t allow them to watch her cut, or allow them to shampoo her clients. Priss doesn’t think it’s right to let the assistants watch her cut, because the client is paying for her time. She’s more than happy to train the clients on her methods, and put them to work, but in truth the Avanti employees get no help trying to get in on a tip.
There is one big, grotesque “i” in Avanti.
Tabatha calls bullshit on Priscilla, the assistants have to be trained and she’s just being greedy. Betty handles the books and she breaks down during the meeting to say that Alex has taken on a lot to keep the salon running.
Tabatha wants Avanti to disguish itself, she’s invited the staff of Boston Magazine to be the models during the assessment. As the ladies file in clutching pictures of Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girls, Tabatha makes the rounds. Stylist Rob and Owner Alex both have high ranking mag editors, but they’re a little shaky. Prissy-illa is tasked with making a brunette a redhead and complains that her specialty is blondes… Wah wah.
Dark hair is the sign of the devil.
Janida has had a very nice consultation with her client and she totally impresses Tabatha. The cuts are complete and most are ok. Alex hasn’t done “the best” he could do, which sucks since his mediocre cut is on the managing editor of Boston Magazine. Priss is done and Tabatha tells her “that this isn’t the work of someone that has high standards.”
Janida gets the highest praise, she’s done a really nice job. “You do nice work young lady.”
Even if you smell like tequila and bouncer sweat.
The assessment wraps up and all in all, the staff of the mag would come back to this salon. It’s clear that the work is there, the talent is not harnessed and that’s Alex’s fault.
Tabatha wants to sit with Alex and Bookkeeper Betty to discuss the business. Alex doesn’t understand how bad the business is, he needs to lead and he has to set consequences.
After Tabatha tells Alex that she “wants to shake the living shit out of you,” Alex says he will take control, he’s been here the longest. AND HE OWNS the salon. It’s not your seniority, it’s your bottom line….
You’re a owner, not the junior class treasurer… Jeez, some people deserve to lose their money.
Tabatha wants Alex to learn leadership and teamwork, so she brings them to the Harvard boathouse to meet with the coach and coxswain of the Harvard crew team. The 20 year old, 100 lb Harvard boy demonstrates how to lead a team more effectively than a 20 year business owner. Aside from his sloppy, spittle filled delivery, everyone is impressed with the Harvard crew team foreman. The coach recommends the training tank for the Avanti team, so like the Winklevoss in pre-school, Alex tries to command his team as they learn to row in unison. After a couple giggle fits and some failed attempts, Alex gets the team together for a couple strokes.
They’re created a new sport, Hipster Crew. Like crew but with asymmetric haircuts that have to be strategically tousled upon crossing the finish line.
Alex is proud of himself, as the Avanti team disembarks and heads back to Newbury Street. Tabatha doesn’t think that Alex understands the high end salon experience, so she brings the entire staff to a competing salon to Bradley & Diegel, to be the clients.
Owner Peter Bradley understand the relatively simple concept of a being a boss, fire the people who break the rules and make sure you’re continuously making money.
Do you use a gold star system?
All the assistants watch a client get shampooed and try to understand the concept of cleaning up as the go, not slopping shit on the client.
Tabatha talks to Janida who vows to get home earlier — like 5am — and get some rest before rolling into the salon at noon. Tabatha doesn’t really have a response to JJ’s new plan, but to roll her eyes and shake her head.
So I’ll change my underwear and be fresh as a daisy by 11:59am.
Prissy is getting her roots did and relaxing. TC points out that she wasn’t asked to assist during her own service. Isn’t that nice?
Tabatha takes the staff back to kick off the renovations, she leads them out on to the roof (instead of into the Charles to drown themselves, so that’s a vote of confidence) to let Alex beat the hell out of his washer with a sledge hammer. Alex says that he has turned over a new leaf, “the whole tree a think.”
“You,” Tabatha tells Alex, “…you need to be a coxswain.” Double giggle. He agrees. Like a police officer just handed him a ticket for being a pussy, and he promises never to do that again.
When the staff returns the black and white salon has received a pop of color and everyone agrees that it looks great. There are a brand new washer dryer and a break room with four walls.
Back on the floor Tabatha wants to see teamwork, Janida is going to do her best work, she’s not hungover, she’s ready to do great works… she “hasn’t been out since you got here.”
It’s a full day and Prissy is happy to start the day lecturing a captive audience of her fellow stylists. “It just helps to remind myself to be perfect, check and double check… and then check one more time.”
The salon gets busy and Priss is washing a client. True to his job title, Rob comes over and asks Priss of he can wash her client. She refuses to give up the reigns, until Tabatha steps in and tells her that Rob is free. Rob is finally allowed to step in and wide-eyed Priscilla takes a step back, careful not to turn her back to Tabatha.
She can smell fear.
Everyone is doing well, the assistants are stepping up and the client in Janida’s chair has said she’s found her hairdresser. Tabatha’s happy to find happy clients. Janida has been listening, and Miss T is proud of her. Tabatha takes Alex aside she’s ready to make her recommendations.
Tabatha thinks that the assistants need to be motivated, Alex says that he’s already set up a training program.TC thinks Janida is a good stylist, but someone needs to keep her on track. Priss doesn’t measure up to her own hype, but Alex can’t commit to throwing her out, so when TC and Alex address the staff, they don’t really make an changes. Miss T says that everyone has to do the work to make it a team environment. She also promises Janida to take her shopping if she remains true to her post-party girl lifestyle.
Alex goes in for the hug before Tabatha — but just gets to awkwardly lean on her like he’s ordering at the filthy counter of a taco truck.
Leading by example.
When she returns Moranis says he is being the boss, everyone is changing. Janida has been great, her hair and makeup did — everyday. Tabatha is going to reward JanJan with a $2000 shopping spree, Janida and her liver are grateful for the change Tabatha has started.
What did you think of this week’s episode? I don’t think Alex has a chance in hell of standing up to his staff, but I hope he does. Do you feel he’s be an effective coxswain? Can anyone else use coxswain in a sentence?