In 2003, twin brothers
Steve and Erik Winchow
wanted to follow in their
father’s entrepreneurial
and decided to gamble their
luck on a family investment:
owning a bar.
My brother Steve said,
“The bar’s going up for sale. Let’s get it before
someone else gets it.” The owner just wanted
to get out, so I made him an offer
of about $50,000,
and he took it. ERIK:
Everyone was telling us
that if we bought the bar, they will come back,
and they did. ANNOUNCER:
After changing the bar’s name
to Rhythm and Brews,
within a few months
the twins quickly realized
they’d hit the jackpot.Besides having great drinks,
we wanted to bring the best music on Staten Island,
and people went insane. I would say on average we were
making over $80,000 a month. We were living
pretty good. ANNOUNCER:
As their stroke of
prosperity continued,
Erik and Steve brought in
younger brother Stu
to help manage
the bar’s success.
It was amazing.
Every day, I’d wake up, look at my little, green money
and be all excited. This is crazy. On an average night, I was going home
with 250 to 300, maybe 350–
It was insane. ANNOUNCER:
The brothers rode their wheel
of fortune until 2009,
when a rowdy biker club
took over the bar
as their headquarters,
causing the bar’s image
to suffer
and forcing the young
Staten Island locals out
and leaving Rhythm and Brews
in the dark.
We were the cat’s meow.
Now nobody comes in.
It’s terrible. ANNOUNCER:
Lacking the courage
to take back the bar,
Erik and Steve were
run over by the bikers…
And that was the beginning
of the end for us.creating a total
( shouting ) Coming behind the bar.
They go in the kitchen. They do whatever
the hell they want.Mangia, mangia.They come inside
the bar area–
I hate that! I had my car
repossessed. My house went
into foreclosure twice. I dumped my 401(k)
into the bar. ERIK:
Between the three of us,
we’ve dumped in $700,000 into this place,
and it’s just about over. Every day, the bank
calls us for more money, and one day,
we’re not gonna
have it. I feel like I’m gonna be
that bum on the street. That scares the hell out of me. I’m gonna be that guy
walking around saying, “Don’t be a rubber duck;
put the money in the cup.”