by Florida Night Train©
In the world of entertainment, there are some brands that not only leave a lasting impression but there are those which also redefine the way we experience a night out. One such brand that has achieved this feat is the iconic “Coyote Ugly Saloon”, a chain of saloon-bars known for their electrifying atmosphere and incredible success story. Joanna Olsen, whose passion and dedication have been instrumental in shaping the Coyote Ugly empire into what it is today, gave me some of her valuable time and shared her journey.
As I sat there having lunch with her in the posh Paddock-1 garage in Tampa Bay, it did not take me long to appreciate her uncompromising passion to live her life well, fully, and freely. At first glance, Joanna stands tall. Like a tower. Solid, with walls, robust personality, she manifests a shield of energy one can only enter by permission. I am thankful for the privilege of seeing a bit of this adventurous and creative soul. Joanna has earned every bit of freedom she now enjoys. That is with absolute devotion to her corporate objectives from her early 20s. She is a tower yes, but you soon start seeing she is a tower with a heart and soul. She favors mystical Ducati superbikes but insists she also has a soft spot for classic custom choppers. Be advised this bachelorette is a “SIGMA” female. If you don’t quite know what that is, you can google it, or read my feature The SIGMA Male “Dare To Be” | No Strings Attached – ENews (nsaen.com).
Her days start at 7:30 a.m. Chuckling, she calls herself a “glorified property manager”. AC broke? She is on it… That includes all of her Coyote Ugly locations and her commercial and residential real estate investments. This accomplished multidisciplinary entrepreneur born in Brooklyn, NY, made a point to clearly state, “Success is not money and stuff! Success is hard work resulting in freedom. All my life I worked towards that—Freedom.”
Raised in the ’80s by middle-class parents, eldest of two girls, her dad was a veteran and a professional in the banking world. Tears welling up, she reminisced about the beauty and closeness of her relationship with him. Sadly, her dad left this world days before we met. Out of respect, I just did not have it in me to ask more questions about him. Her mom was a dedicated mama and worked in an accounting firm, fully supportive of all of Joanna’s aspirations.
Joanna is rightfully a complex mind in constant overdrive. She is fully present, on task, and her mind is with you but simultaneously multitasking about other matters. She does that artfully, respectfully, and masterfully. She seeks balance of perspectives. I will tell you, she does not kneel for the national anthem. She is fiscally conservative and socially more centered. She supports many charities. One dear to her heart is “Thorn Ministries” of Tampa Bay. Thorn Ministries, for the past 20 years, has provided nourishment and shown unwavering compassion to hundreds of thousands of homeless individuals in the Tampa area. Another one is Anchorage Children’s Home, a non-profit organization that serves, protects, and strengthens children, families, and communities in Panama City, Florida.
Motherhood? That’s a topic which even her apparent, perceived stoic composure cannot conceal deeply felt emotions. Taking a deep breath she says, “Choose as soon as you can. You can do both. I have close friends who did it, but being the best mom and being best in business as well is a heck of a tall order. Feminism is tricky now. I am more about the empowerment of women.” Her actions prove that quite clearly too. All of her businesses provide a path for her employees to fast-track their careers with scholarships and room to grow professionally. Twenty-five years as a successful businesswoman taught her these lessons and a few more. Victories, defeats, betrayals … it all comes with the package. Her greatest lesson? Follow your guts and instincts!
Her dedication to empowering women within the company and beyond is evident. Coyote Ugly has become a platform for women to showcase their talents, develop their skills, and rise through the ranks. Many former Coyotes have gone on to pursue successful careers in various fields, thanks in part to the confidence and resilience they gained during their time at the saloon. Joanna’s commitment to female empowerment extends beyond the walls of her business. She has been involved in numerous philanthropic efforts, supporting organizations that empower and uplift women in need. Her advocacy for opportunities for women is a testament to her character and the values that drive Coyote Ugly as a brand.
This “SIGMA Coyote”, who happens to be a Bucs fan now, entertains herself by managing her businesses. Work is play! She is learning to fly helicopters. She extended an invitation and I might take her up on that! Joanna is an avid reader. Her favorites: “Atlas Shrugged” (one of my favs too), “Star Shine Down”, and anything biographical. Right now, she is reading Eleanor Roosevelt’s bio.
The Coyote Ugly phenomenon began in 1993 when CEO Liliana Lovell opened the first Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York City. The mere mention of “Coyote Ugly” should bring about a myriad of nostalgic emotions, they even made a movie about it. It is worth watching, and I am told there could be a remake in the works.
The concept was simple but groundbreaking – a bar staffed by talented and charismatic female bartenders who not only served drinks but also put on a high-energy show, dancing choreographically on the bar and encouraging patrons to join in the fun. The “Coyotes,” as they are affectionately known, are not just bartenders; they are entertainers who bring the party to life. It’s an experience that transcends the typical night out and leaves a lasting impression. This unique blend of entertainment and socializing quickly captivated audiences and turned Coyote Ugly into a sensation. What sets Coyote Ugly apart is not just its signature drinks, it’s the electrifying experience that patrons can expect from the moment they step inside. Whether you’re a regular or a first-time visitor, you’re greeted with an atmosphere of unbridled energy, friendly staff, and the promise of a memorable night out.
Joanna entered the picture in 2000, by then she already owned the Paradox night club in Atlanta. Little did she know this decision would change her life forever. Joanna’s infectious enthusiasm, coupled with her strong work ethic and charisma, soon caught the attention of Liliana Lovell. Recognizing Joanna’s potential, she accepted Joanna’s offer to open a location in Atlanta.
Coyote Ugly expanded rapidly and Joanna opened new locations in the Southeast Region of the USA. This expansion was not without its challenges, but Joanna’s unwavering commitment to maintaining the authenticity and spirit of the original Coyote Ugly experience ensured that each new location captured the essence of the brand.
What makes Joanna’s leadership remarkable is her ability to adapt and innovate while staying true to the brand’s core values. She recognized the changing landscape of the entertainment industry and made strategic decisions to keep Coyote Ugly relevant and exciting. From incorporating live music and DJs, to introducing themed nights and events, Coyote Ugly continues to evolve while remaining faithful to its roots. Coyote Ugly isn’t just a chain of bars; it’s a cultural phenomenon that has left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. It has inspired countless imitators, but none have captured the essence and authenticity of the original like Coyote Ugly itself. You can’t wing, tilt, or hoot that!
The brand’s impact goes beyond the entertainment industry. It has become a symbol of empowerment, resilience, and the pursuit of one’s dreams. Joanna’s journey serves as a source of inspiration for countless individuals who aspire to break barriers and achieve their goals. Joanna broke the glass ceiling—with a loud bang—more than once. Joanna’s leadership philosophy can be summed up in the ingredients that have made Coyote Ugly a roaring success: Passion, Innovation, Empowerment, Authenticity.
In the world of entertainment, few brands have achieved the iconic status and lasting impact of Coyote Ugly. Joanna’s teams and especially all her colleagues, she insists, are a testament to the power of passion, innovation, and empowerment. Coyote Ugly Saloons continue to light up the night with their unique blend of entertainment and camaraderie. Joanna’s leadership ensures that the flame of this extraordinary brand will continue to burn brightly for years to come.
As patrons, we can be grateful for the unforgettable nights, the incredible staff, and the vibrant atmosphere that Coyote Ugly provides. As aspiring leaders, we can look to Joanna’s remarkable journey as a source of inspiration, reminding us that with dedication and authenticity, anything is possible. Coyote Ugly isn’t just a brand, it’s a legend. A legend that continues to thrive under a visionary leadership.
Source: Joanna Olsen, Coyote Ugly, Web research.
Photos: Florida Night Train / www.tonyabarnesproofing.com
Makeup: Meghan_mua / Hair: Allisunfaye