Friends and business partners Dave Jurena and Tim Talsky opened the Soup Kitchen in 2004 in Milwaukee. They changed the name to The Soup Market and in their first decade in business opened up five locations throughout the Milwaukee area. With the business running successfully and continuing to grow, Tim unexpectedly passed away leaving Dave to run the company by himself.
Tim had been handling the financial aspects of the business and without him, Dave was unable to expand the business further. With revenue and profits declining, Dave looked to Marcus Lemonis and The Profit for help bringing the business back and taking it to the next level.
The Soup Market on The Profit
The Profit Season 4 Episode 3
When Marcus arrived at The Soup Market, he saw a restaurant that had not put much effort or capital into its design or long-term planning. The soup is tasty but very heavy. Dave had increased the soup options to 200 recipe creations, no data was kept to track sales of the business.
In the course of initial conversations, the name Grace was brought up, though no one was willing to talk about her or her role in the company. Marcus had the impression she was acting as a shadow manager behind Dave and his day-to-day managerial duties.
The operations of the business did not seem to have much continuity, with employees’ duties changing and an inconsistent look and feel within each location and across the brand. The soup recipes were the only elements of the business that seemed to remain consistent throughout all locations.
Marcus attempts to get to the bottom of who Grace is and what she means to The Soup Market. She appears to be kept away from the daily operations by Dave’s wife. Dave refused to provide Marcus with any more information about her. Marcus felt it was his right to know everyone who had a hand in the business and pressed Dave to come clean with Grace’s story. Dave became frustrated with the line of questioning, took off his microphone, and walked away. When Marcus is able to reach Dave later, he finds out that Grace is a former employee of The Soup Market, but has been told to look for another job. It still was not completely clear whether Grace was still employed at The Soup Market, and this gave Marcus pause.
While Marcus was unimpressed with their bookkeeping and data collection methods, there was no denying The Soup Market was making money, generating $1.8 million in sales, they had only $85,000 in debt and an additional $100,000 in liability from Tim’s estate. Despite the sound numbers, Marcus feels that their profit margins could easily be increased from the current 50% to about 70% through better management of the pricing structure and using cheaper, fresher ingredients. With these changes, Marcus believes The Soup Market could generate over $330,000 more for the business.
Marcus offers Dave $315,000 in exchange for 50% equity in his business, which includes Marcus taking complete control of the company’s operations.
With plans to overhaul the shop in efforts to make it more profitable, Marcus explains the need for healthier soup options. He and Dave head to a nutritional analysis laboratory to see just how unhealthy The Soup Market options are. The test results indicated the soup contains about 70% of the recommended daily amount in a single serving. Dave takes exception to this, stating that he would rather get rid of his recipes instead of changing his restaurant to be part of the “healthcare” business.
A longtime friend of The Profit, Dean Lyden met with the team to discuss design upgrades. Dave is resistant to changes Dean suggests, frustrating Marcus to the point where he decides to head out and meet with Kevin, who is introduced as The Soup Market’s Operations Manager. As Marcus and Kevin begin to talk, the infamous Grace walks in and goes behind the counter. Grace seems quite nervous to be talking to Marcus, but it eventually comes out that she is that actual Operations Manager of the business. The reason for the secrecy is that Grace has caused some marriage issues for Dave and his wife.
Marcus went back to Dave to get some more answers to this odd and awkward situation. Marcus learns that Grace was a part of the business through Tim and had stayed on after his untimely death. She was a good worker with a good sense of the business, but it is revealed that Dave has feelings for her, feelings he shared with his wife. Marcus was relieved to finally know the story, though still felt uneasy about the atmosphere it had created throughout the operation of the business.
With the revelation of the Grace story behind him, Dave begins to understand the importance of providing better quality, healthier choices, and better choices in purchasing decisions. Dave even presented Marcus with a healthy, Latin-inspired soup that tasted delicious.
Two weeks later, The Soup Market revealed a new look and feel, described by Marcus as a “rustic public market” replacing the cafeteria feel it had before. Modern business management tools and processes were added to keep track of sales and increase profit margins. Customers and employees alike were pleased with the changes and Marcus was happy with the progress.
Marcus notices Grace standing outside the store and not with the rest of the staff inside. Grace and Dave have a nasty confrontation that soils the mood and makes everyone around them uncomfortable.
Weeks later, Grace is fired and escorted off the property by police. Dave subsequently filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), setting the business into a tailspin. Marcus returns for a follow up to find the exterior of the store in shambles. Another confrontation with Dave leads to Marcus pulling out of the deal and losing his $100,000 investment in the process.
What Happened Next: The Soup Market After The Profit
The Soup Market saw an increase of business after the episode aired and customers seemed to take to the changes Marcus helped implement. They were seeing online ratings between 3.5 and 4 stars.
Unfortunately, the success did not last. Ratings dropped and the company’s social media properties received some backlash from the episode, ultimately leading to the shutting down of their Facebook page.
Grace, by far the most intriguing character in this story, appears to have moved on from the drama of The Soup Market. She has moved to California and settled down while waiting for her lawsuit to play out.
The Soup Market is still in business with five locations in the Milwaukee area.
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