(Note: This story appears in the January 2022 issue of ED Magazine)
Bucks Cabaret’s VP of Operations Scott Discianno is well aware it takes a great team to navigate the intricacies of grand openings and club-chain expansion.
Scott Discianno is a 20-plus-year veteran in the industry. But he’ll be the first to tell you, what he considered a club even a decade ago isn’t the reality in 2022.
“I’m lucky that I’ve learned that you have to adapt,” says Discianno, VP of Operations for Bucks Cabaret. “Nowadays, it’s not about drink prices, you got to go out there and put on the better show. You have to constantly be planning, be scheming. You have to put on your best show. People want more for their buck nowadays (no pun intended).
“It’s like a game of chess. It’s not checkers,” he continues.”You want to make the move that keeps you around and keeps you relevant. Things are always changing. I’m lucky I have a good bunch of guys around me. My wife’s really good at noticing the trends. But, I’ll admit I’m always learning.”
It’s that attitude that has seen Discianno rise through the ranks of such a prestigious brand to overseeing 12 clubs. ED Magazine spoke with Discianno about his team and their daily meetings, overseeing 12 clubs and his relationship with co-owners Curtis Wise and Kevin “Rich” Richardson.
ED: How long have you worked in this industry? And where did you work before joining Bucks?
DISCIANNO: I’ve been in the industry over 20 years. And before I was with Bucks, I was with RCI. I was a general manager for them and worked with RCI off and on for several years. They gave me some good opportunities, I took them and that eventually led me to Bucks.
ED: At which clubs were you working as the GM?
DISCIANNO: I was at Silver City and I was at Rick’s Round Rock or they call it Rick’s Austin. And I was Cabaret North.
ED: How did you happen to connect with Bucks?
DISCIANNO: I was working down the road and I was a big fan of what Bucks was doing, they had a lot of really good momentum. I got in there a couple of times. I just saw the energy of the club and I just saw how much people enjoyed working there, being there. It was my cup of tea. It was something I really wanted to be a part of. I felt that I could really help the club and help the organization. And it’s been a perfect marriage ever since.
“Every day, you learn something. You learn something from the guys you’re working with or there’s challenges, there’s things you have to adapt to, there’s things you have to overcome. I’d like to think that with each club we open, we’re better at it.” — Scott Discianno
ED: Did you start as a GM there or what was your first position?
DISCIANNO: I came in and I was the number two guy for a couple of weeks. Then they handed me the club in 2014 — Bucks Cabaret Ft. Worth, the first Bucks club.
ED: As the company grew, when did you become VP of operations?
DISCIANNO: That actually happened in January 2021. We knew that we had nine clubs, and we had three more getting ready to open and I went from regional (manager) to the VP. I absolutely love the position. I love the mobility, getting to other clubs and working with all the teams — it’s like having 12 different families.
ED: What are some of the advantages of working for a company with 12 clubs?
DISCIANNO: Every day, you learn something. You learn something from the guys you’re working with or there’s challenges, there’s things you have to adapt to, there’s things you have to overcome. But most importantly, I think it’s communication — you get all of your clubs communicating together, taking what worked and what didn’t work. I’d like to think that with each club we open, we’re better at it. We have an opening team now that goes in and opens the club up. Everybody in our company is so excited when we get a new club because it’s an opportunity, somebody always gets promoted from within. I like to tell people, when you come to work for Bucks, if there’s a day that you want to transfer and go to another location, just let me know, and we’ll make it happen.
ED: Aside from time, what are some of the specific challenges for you of operating a dozen clubs?
DISCIANNO: I would say that, for some reason, when there is an issue, they all seem to happen at once at all the clubs. I will say this, we probably have the best GMs in the business. We can trust them. That’s why we’re so successful in other markets. I don’t have to be there all the time — I just pick up the phone and call my GM, he’s worked with me for a long time. Most of our guys, except for maybe one guy, has come from inside the company. They understand what we’re doing. And I just tell ‘em, ‘Hey, we need to do this.’ And they tweak it, and they make it happen. So really, it’s about bringing in the right people, like-minded people.
ED: In speaking to other GMs, they’ve said how they hear Bucks is a team they want to be a part of.
DISCIANNO: Yes, and that’s exactly how I felt when I got with Bucks. I wanted something a little bit more. I like to say I’m a team-first guy. If you’re worried about individual goals, you’ll never make it. You just won’t. The team comes first, the club comes first and it’ll always take care of you.
ED: Does being a multi-unit operator provide Bucks with buying power with any your vendors?
DISCIANNO: Absolutely, we get nationwide deals across the board from the likes of Red Bull, Cisco and US Foods. There’s strength in numbers. That’s something that I always wanted to do, I always look forward to when you buy a UFC fight or pay per view boxing, they look at us and they go well, you have this at all your locations, so we’re going to give you a better deal. They always do.
ED: At what at what point or what number did you achieve that buying power initially?
DISCIANNO: I’d say after the first four or five clubs.
ED: You oversee 12 clubs. Is there such a thing as a typical week? And if so, what does a typical week look like for you?
DISCIANNO: I’m constantly on the road from Wednesday through Sunday. And then I’m at the local clubs on Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night.
ED: How is working at Bucks different than other owners for whom you’ve managed?
DISCIANNO: The difference is with Rich and Curtis, I can pick up the phone, and I can talk to them at any time. I can walk into their office and talk to them. They’re easily accessible. They always take my call or they get back to me as soon as they can.
ED: Do you think COVID and how you distributed food solidified the fact that Bucks is really a family to some of your entertainers, some of your workers?
DISCIANNO: Absolutely. They weren’t surprised that we took care of them. They weren’t surprised at all. But they take care of us when we’re open, they show up and they give us their best effort. We couldn’t forget them in their time of need. Let me tell you, my wife and I, it was pretty amazing. We would drive home after making our last delivery and we’d be like, ‘We are so lucky that one, we found this company and they took us in; and two, that we have such great people.’ People during COVID in the company, we talked almost every day or we saw them whenever we could. If I needed help passing out food, team members would volunteer. Everybody was that way. It was it was very, very impressive how everybody came together.
The most rewarding part (of my job) is watching a club catch fire and take on its own personality and seeing the numbers every hour. As far as difficulties, there aren’t really any. If I could be in 12 different places at once, that would be awesome! — Scott Discianno
ED: Can you talk about the format of, and the importance of, your daily team meetings?
DISCIANNO: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we have four video conference calls each day with clubs outside the DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) area. That gives us the ability to talk to each other, talk about what went right, what went wrong, talk about future events, holidays. That’s our moment to figure it out. For local clubs, we have our in-person meetings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Those are manager meetings where we discuss our goals, upcoming events (UFC fights, anniversary parties, birthdays, etc.), policy changes in the company or in the state, things like that.
ED: And then you have meetings before each shift at each club, too?
DISCIANNO: We have a pre-shift meeting with all the servers, bartenders, DJs, managers. We talk about what the goals are for the night, where we need to be to hit your goal for the week. You’ll have 30-35 people in one room and it’s our way of getting amped up. We’ll do a good-luck Red Bull toast. If we do it on the floor, it’s amazing how many of our guests want to get involved. They want to buy a Red Bull and toast and wish us luck.
ED: What challenges have you encountered with your clubs outside of Texas, if any that you didn’t have in Texas and vice versa? And how have you overcome those challenges?
DISCIANNO: We’re just so fortunate to have really good leaders in this company. I can pick up the phone and call them and they’ll pick up 24/7. I think that’s the biggest thing with managers. When you accept the position as a GM or at a manager level, you’re on the clock 24/7. If I call you at three, four six in the morning, it’s not to say hello. That would be later in the afternoon. You got to pick the phone up. If there’s an emergency and I’m calling, pick it up.
Different states have different rules and we adapt to that. Once in a while, we say ‘Hey, let’s try this.’ And our managers are so ingrained in the city they respond ‘Oh, hey, you can’t do that because this is the liquor law, or these are the hours of operation.’ It goes back to hiring the right people, training them up and making them like-minded people. They make 99.9% of the right calls we would make.
ED: What’s the best part of your job, and what’s the most challenging part?
DISCIANNO: Best part of my job is when we open a new club and it starts to take off and carry its own weight. You see it after the grand openings — that’s the honeymoon and the marriage. Then reality kicks in. But once you start gaining traction and getting the train going, it becomes easier every time. You’ve been there, done that. That’s the most rewarding part, is watching a club catch fire and take on its own personality and seeing the numbers every hour. As far as difficulties, there aren’t really any. If I could be in 12 different places at once, that would be awesome.
The guys in our company are much appreciated because they go above and beyond. It’s one thing to work shoulder to shoulder with these guys because they care so much. If you don’t care, if the club doesn’t come first to you, if it’s not the most important thing to you, it won’t be successful. I look around and I’ve worked in a lot of places and I see guys are just there for the money or just there for the tips. And that never works. I’ll call guys from competing companies and they go, ‘Hey, how’d you do last night? I made $300 in tips.’ That’s not what I meant. What I meant is how’d your club do in general, not personally. If the tips come first, I’m not interested. We’re on the wrong team.
“If you don’t care, if the club doesn’t come first to you, if it’s not the most important thing to you, it won’t be successful. I’ll call guys from competing companies and they go, ‘Hey, how’d you do last night? I made $300 in tips.’ That’s not what I meant. What I meant is how’d your club do in general, not personally. If the tips come first, I’m not interested. We’re on the wrong team.” — Scott Discianno
ED: What did you do before you were before you were in the industry?
DISCIANNO: Gosh, it’s been so long. When I was in college, I was a hockey player. I worked for my dad for quite a while and my dad is a pretty demanding guy. He didn’t mind coming down at 5:30 or 6 am and waking me up. If I’m gonna get yelled at, I might as well make a little money. I had free room and board, that was his way of paying me. I knew I had to get out of the house. My dad was a workaholic, he worked from the moment he got up to the minute he slept, he never stopped working. Very competitive.
ED: Sounds like you’re a workaholic, too?
DISCIANNO: I told my wife I’ll never retire. I’ll die in the club. I’ve seen guys that retired and it seems like they just fade away and die quicker. I enjoy being around young people and their energy. I’m a 52-year-old man, but I feel like I’m 20, 21 years old. My wife will tell you that’s where I’m at mentally. But I just really, really like being around the young energy.
ED: What’s a quality or qualities you’ve acquired or refined working with Curtis and Rich that’s helped you to become better at overseeing operations?
DISCIANNO: Relentless. Curtis and Rich are relentless. They will do anything they can to make something work. It feels good to work with guys like that. A lot of a lot of owners would pack up and give up, not Curtis and Rich. They have zero quit in them.
Larry Kaplan has for 20 years been the Legal Correspondent for ED Publications. In addition, Mr. Kaplan is a business broker in the sale and purchase of adult nightclubs and adult retail stores and the Executive Director of the ACE of Michigan adult nightclub state trade association. Contact Larry Kaplan at 313-815-3311 or email email@example.com.