From serving “billionaire bacon” to auctioning off toilet paper, it’s been a wild five months for Bankroll.
The fine-dining sports bar (and at one point, presumed betting parlor) backed by Doylestown venture capitalist Paul Martino launched in the former Boyd Theater in Rittenhouse after a two-year, $25 million renovation. When it opened last March, public reaction included confusion over what the venue was meant to be, and who it was targeting with a menu of caviar selections, $200 steaks, and $18 beers.
March Madness brought a bump in business, but it didn’t last, according to former employees, who told Billy Penn they felt closure was inevitable, despite reassurances offered by the executive team.
In June, Bankroll furloughed the majority of its staff, over email and with no prior warning, promising a return to full operations in time for football season — a few days before it was revealed owners were seeking $4M in debt refinancing. A few weeks later, the venue announced it would not be reopening in the fall.
The latest chapter in the saga sees Bankroll auctioning off its entire inventory: a whopping 1,244 lots organized by Quaker City Auctioneers. The liquor license is one of the prime items, thanks to recent trends and Pa. laws that make them scarce. With 20 bids, it stood at $130,000 a day prior to the auction close on Wednesday.
Also up for auction is everything from kitchen equipment to front-of-house furnishings and cleaning supplies to booze. Check out a few of the most interesting items, which also provide a glimpse into the former establishment’s operations.
Bankroll’s menus hardly mention sushi of any kind, but that apparently didn’t stop the venue from adding this maki-making “robot” to its kitchen’s arsenal.
A compact countertop device standing at under 30 inches tall, Autec’s ASM880A is a beast, capable of pumping out 450 sushi rolls or 720 rice sheets per hour, with a built-in heat retainer to keep rice at its ideal temperature. It also features customizable settings to determine your roll’s desired thickness, length, and “wrap strength.”
Pricing information for new devices is available only by request from the Japanese manufacturer, but the same model goes for about $12,000 used online, with one seller claiming an original retail price of upwards of $20,000. Bankroll has it listed at $3,000, so far attracting a single bid.
$12k ice cream maker
Proving more popular than the raw fish-wrapping machine is a 3-horse-power ice cream maker from Carpigiani. It’s in the middle of a bidding war, with more than 25 entries elevating the price from its original listing of $3,000 to $4,800 at the time of writing — just over a third of its $12,000 retail cost. A sweet deal for anyone looking to make four-quart batches of gelato in one go.
So much liquor
Take an impressively stocked bar, divide it into hundreds of lots — some containing as many as 29 bottles and a few considerably more, like a 43-bottle batch of Trefethen dry Riesling — and set the opening bid around $350. What do you get? Few takers, at the time of writing.
Individual bottles of Promontory and Colgin wines are listed at $350 each, Harlan at $500. A bundle of 17 1-liter Ketel One bottles is priced at $350, a trio of Macallan Highland single malt, aged 15 years, at $200. On the higher end, a 13-bottle bundle of Jay-Z’s Armand de Brignac (nine rosé and four brut) still sits at its $1,700 initial listing, while a few bidders have volleyed a three-bottle case of 2012 Salon Les Mesnil Blanc de Blancs champagnes to $1,450 from an opening bid of $1,000.
So many pants
Uniforms were apparently a debacle of their own at Bankroll. Former GM Jerome Jones recalled thousands spent on staff outfits that were ultimately shelved because they didn’t meet the CEO’s liking. The result was “this whole cycle of different uniforms,” he told Billy Penn in June.
Many uniforms are up for auction in their original packaging. Split among several lots are 240 pairs of server pants, all black; 75 white-collared server shirts; 70 black t-shirts for men, 36 black v-necks for women, 45 women’s long-sleeved server jackets, and 26 two-pocket, half-size aprons. Above a haphazardly staged photo, Lot 255 lists an unspecified number of “server jackets etc on rack,” with an opening bid of $40 and no additional information beyond the rack not being included.
Items are mostly packaged in bundles of 14, 26, or 35, with some including a variety of sizes. Prices range from $30 (a 10-pack of server pants, men’s, small; an eight-pack of black mock neck t-shirts) to $100 for 26 server shirts. Stickers listing the designer name and Bankroll as a client are visible on the plastic wrapping in several of the uploaded photos, but it’s unclear due to image quality if logos adorn any of the attire.
Assorted toilet paper and cleaning supplies
How many rolls of Scott brand toilet paper will $60 get you? That information isn’t included in the listing for lot 814, but the accompanying photo suggests at least 40, alongside the unspecified number of “paper towels, hand towels, etc.” mentioned in its title. Assortments of cleaning supplies — mops and buckets, brooms, griddle cleaners, shovels, and sprays — are also available in bulk bids, while a pair of Hoover vacuum cleaners is priced at a combined $60.
A collection of “reserved” placards and event wristbands in lot 1085 could certainly be of use to any number of restaurant and bar owners. Not so much for the lot’s accompanying stack of Bankroll menus and scoresheet-themed order cards, at one point distributed to patrons of the sports bar. The $20 listing has so far attracted a single bid.
Giant wall screens
If you’ve got the space for it, this 8-foot-by-9-foot screen is a steal at its $5,000 opening bid, far below the “tens of thousands” manufacturer SNA Displays lists as the starting point for its line of products.
At one time the focal point of the Big Game Room, the venue’s central space, this behemoth counts for only a fraction of the 1,200 square feet of screens previously lining Bankroll’s walls and now up for auction, including an ultrawide 5-foot-by-28-foot display also listed at $5,000. For anyone seeking something more modestly sized, 16 Samsung flatscreen TVs, 55 to 85 inches, are also listed in individual lots, ranging from $350 to $1,200.
The ideal companion to any new floor-to-ceiling screen, four Xbox consoles are among the available items, all 2022 editions sporting two controllers each. Considering Bankroll is auctioning off odds and ends like menus and unused toilet paper, it’s a bit surprising no games are included, but the savings to be made from the listed lot prices — $180-$195 against a retail cost of $350 and around $200 for refurbished consoles — leaves extra cash to hit up Game Stop.
Bankroll’s billionaire bacon appetizer consisted of three thickly cut strips hanging from a miniature rack alongside a pair of tiny tongs and some pickles for $26. For four dollars more, you can now own 16 of those bacon racks, more officially called “metal order holds” as their listing reveals. Tiny tongs, sadly, do not seem to be included, presumably in one of the several lots of “assorted kitchen utensils.”
A changing table
It’s valiant to aim to provide for your patrons’ every need, but it’s difficult to imagine many babies amid the fine dining swankiness and sports bar bombast Bankroll sought to combine.
Perhaps that’s why this Koala Kare changing table remained uninstalled. Like most things at the former venue, it’s somewhat excessive; the product’s spec sheet boasts a weight capacity of 50lbs. Listed as a new item, it’s going for $30, just under a ninth of its retail price.
A former manager who spoke to Billy Penn said that, when describing Bankroll to his industry friends, the most common reaction was “but what is it?” The same might be asked of lot 184.
“Metal art sculpture,” the listing title unhelpfully suggests, with no information on the artist’s name or production date. As the only artwork among the auction’s 1,000-plus lots, it also raises a few questions, namely: What happened to all the other art? Where in the cavernous, 13,000-sq.-ft. venue was this soccer ball-sized piece displayed? And what is it meant to be?
With answers unlikely, the object’s inscrutability makes it an appropriately symbolic — and, at $40, affordable — artifact of a fascinatingly confused blip in the city’s dining scene.