Bar Rescue’s Track Record Of Suck

I really like shows like Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and the logically ripped off Bar Rescue, in the same way that I like shows like Intervention. I like rooting for people in terrible situations to do better. We’re all in terrible situations and we want to do better.

That isn’t totally true, I think what I really like the most is the notion that the mechanisms of problems with anything  is just missing, secret information. Yes, it is the myth of secret information: Your life is a mess, because of this one tiny thing, now that you know it, voila, it’s fixed. Vis a vis, your restaurant or bar also.

Wanting to believe in this idea of magical information really means a lot to me, so I watch these shows, but like most things that you know damn well aren’t true, you doubt and look for contrary information to disprove yourself. I watch every episode of Bar Rescue with my smartphone in my hand, looking up the name of the new restaurant, then the old restaurant (commonly they switch back to the old name), usually looking to see that it has failed.

That the secret information that  Jon Taffer imparts and his soulless, generic approach to bar-building that by and large ignores local tastes or lack of interest on the part of the owners for said theme (Your bar now a Caribbean bar! Put on this Hawaiian shirt and say “Mon” instead of “Man” moving forward!).

Also it follows the same formula each time, which pretty much makes the following assumptions:

  • POS systems are necessary or every bar will screech off course  into a fiery ball of nonachievement
  • Ibid, fancy drink machines
  • Ibid, State of the art beer taps
  • Ibid a new sign, designed using only the standard iconography available in MS-Word Clipart
  • Ibid, stupid Cocktails, designed by a Mixologist, which according to HL Mencken’s 1948 work “The Vocabulary Of The Drinking Chamber” was invented not by a bartender but by a hack journalist for the Knickerbocker magazine in 1856, who wanted to refer to the profession sportively and I think it remained on that level until about 2005, when even the stupidest of shit became serious, somehow.
  • Your bar needs a fancy bar top. I have never noticed the bar top of any bar other than a quick check like:
  1.  Is there a bar top?
  2. Is it wet/dirty?
  3. Does it support this glass of liquid?
  4. The End.
The Myth Of Secret Information
Ultimately, the Myth Of Secret Information keeps us all confident that we will spend our late 30′s making a ducal salary at consultant work in our given field just before retirement. This myth begins to crumble after watching a few episodes of Bar Rescue.   Similar to Gordon Ramsey’s show, Bar Rescue shows that secret, expert information is highly fallible. In fact, I remember reading about some client satisfaction survey for Deloitte and Tocuhe  in some bullshit business book you buy at the airport. The upshot was that weak entrepreneurs and executives rely to heavily on consultants and are rarely satisfied with the result of the secret information imparted upon them, though the system is self-cleaning because you don’t want to be the one who wasted all of the company’s money on that bullshit consultant, do you? No, so you write a companywide memo about the experience and information gathered, and you use words like usefulproductive and invaluable. All of which are words never used within the confines of any kind of success.
This guy has launched a lot of successful bars, the show says. Taffer thinks he’s being self-referential when he uses the term launched. Bars are launched not opened, he says  by using a Buzz and Marketing, he adds quickly, lest any of these yokel bar owners were imagining their bar shooting off of a giant catapult into some dry pasture full of cow shit.

Who Is Jon Taffypants?

Who is this Jon Taffer, besides seemingly missing an N somewhere in the middle of his last name and talking with that East Coast affect that sounds like he always has a Werther’s Original in his mouth?

 Well his Wikipedia page offers few solid clues, and his Consultancy company’s website, Taffer Dynamics, is similarly short on information and tall on bullshit eBooks and “packages” that you can buy, which are also shitty ebooks.

I’m quite sure the man is pedigreed, but where’s the solid proof? What popular of famous bars does Jon Taffer own? Not sure, and even if he did launch many, many famous bars and nightclubs, this doesn’t mean that he can swoop into Cornfuck, Kansas and turn some shitty bar into Club 54. (Pardon my dearth of knowledge on popular or world renown nightclubs, I have none).

And besides, some people like shitty bars. I like shitty bars. My city of Long Beach, California may as well be called Shitty Bar, California (an interesting aside, there is a town called Diamond Bar, California that has only shitty bars and no good ones).

And call me old fashioned, but I think that non-chain bars or restaurants (pretty much the only goddamn thing people in their 30′s do, which is a real social problem) can’t really follow a formula. There are too many inter-dependencies on the community, current competitors, and the proprietors and workers of the bar themselves. I saw an episode where Taffer tried to turn some Pirate bar into a placed called the Corporate Bar & Grill.

Like I see how it’s sorta cheeky to business types, but it’s staffed by owners and workers who like the pirate theme as much as Judge Reinhold’s character did.

 

 

Do successful business types want a place that panders to them in a cheeky way? Not really. Successful business people are cheap and want to get hammered. If I were Taffer i’d walk into the Piratz bar and be like “Ok make your happy hour from 4:30 to 8:00 PM and offer cheap watered down drinks and tiny portions of seafood and tortured organica with mango salsa and this train will make hay”, then i’d turn on a dime, walk out the door and check my stopwatch:  45 Seconds.  New record. 

I haven’t written much Misanthropy lately and the truth of the matter is I Googled “Bar Rescue Track Record” and found nothing so I decided i’d do some research and put a full track record on my vanilla personal blog, then I started getting pissed so I copied and pasted and put it here when I really just wanted to go to sleep, go to work and go drinking at some shitty bar tomorrow night. Look how good I am to you assholes.

 

And so, here’s the Bar Rescue track record. Misanthropists, you won’t find this very interesting, move along:

 

Bar Rescue Track Record

(In order of appearance on television)

Season 1

Fallen Angels

Bar Name: Angels Sports Bar
Location: Corona, California
New Name: Rack’s Billiards & Bourbon

RESULT: Seems to be doing about the same judging by Yelp reviews. This looked like your typical OC/Inland Empire shithole full of lifted truck assholes. Can’t blame Taffer for this but he should’ve turned it into some kind of UFC Homoerotic dungeon or something. 

 0 for 1

Downey’s and Out
Bar Name: Downey’s
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
New Name: Name was kept

RESULT: Terrible Yelp Reviews.  No changes in old vs. new reviews. 

 0/2

Shabby Abbey
Bar Name: Chicago Abbey Pub and Music Theatre
Location: Chicago, Illinois
New Name: Name was kept

RESULT: Shitty Yelp reviews complaining about the makeover. 

 0/3

Beach Bummer
Bar Name: Kilkenny’s Irish Pub
Location: Redondo Beach, California
New Name: Breakwall

RESULT: Closed. The two sisters from the episode that ran this place were rather attractive, though I cannot credit Taffer or his show for this. 

 0/4

 

Swanky Troubles
Bar Name: Swanky Bubbles
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
New Name: Sheer (changed back to old name)

RESULT: Closed, per Yelp

 0/5

The Blue Frog Sings The Blues
Bar Name: The Blue Frog 22
Location: Chicago, Illinois
New Name: The Local Chicago’s Best Burgers & Beer
Name-Post Bar Rescue: Blue Frog’s Local 22

RESULT: Name and theme reverted after the makeover, per Yelp

 0/6

 

Bad to the Bone
Bar Name: The Chicken Bone
Location: Framingham, Massachusetts
New Name: The Bone Chicken & Tunes (changed back to old name)

RESULT: Reverted to former name, many shitty reviews. A few reviewers with no friends on Yelp said the makeover was great, FWIW. 

 

 0/7

 

Chumps
Bar Name: Champs Sports Pub
Location: Burbank, California
New Name: Name was kept

RESULT:  Mixed reviews. Reviewers mention they don’t see the food/drinks from the show. 

 

 0/8

Bar Fight
Bar Name: Canyon Inn Sports Bar & Grill
Location: Yorba Linda, California
New Name: Canyon Saloon Spirits & Steaks (changed back to old name)

RESULT: Very similar to the Angel’s bar above, this is a douchebag bar, one yelp commenter said “Canyon Inn is where all the 909ers go so they can say that they party in Orange County. The parking lot is filled with Lifted F150s covered with Tapout and “I’d rather be in Glamis” stickers.  The clientel isnt much better.  Spikey hair, flat bill hats and black socks with DCs…added with the douche bag attitude commonly found in the 909 breed.” I’d say the makeover didn’t transform the Clientele the way Taffer said it would.

 0/9

 

Hogtied Ham’s
Bar Name: Angry Ham’s Garage
Location: Framingham, Massachusetts
New Name: Octane Bar and Grill (changed back to old name)

RESULT: Reverted back to old name and theme. Octane, wow what a creative name. 

 0/10

 

Season 2

 

Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Dumb
Bar Name: Piratz Tavern
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
New Name: Corporate Bar & Grill (changed back to old name and theme)

RESULT: Mentioned above, reverted back to previous name/theme.  This was really an embarrassment for Taffer IMO. 

 0 for 11

 

 

Tiki Curse
Bar Name: The Bamboo Beach Tiki Bar
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
New Name: Bamboo Beach Club & Tiki Bar

RESULT: Not that i’d call a  3 star yelp review average a success by a world renowned bar operator and consultant, but the name has stuck and despite the reviews that pretty much say it’s only decent because of the location, they have stuck to some of the food and drink specials. This is 1 for 12, and it’s a single. If Jon Taffer were a Single A baseball player he’d be batting 0.083 and this texas leaguer over the Third Baseman’s head might or might not save him from a Greyhound ticket back to a life of alcoholism and methamphetamines in his shitty hometown, ironically where there may be a bar that Jon Taffer has tried to rescue.  

1 for 12

 

 

Murphy’s Law
Bar Name: J.A. Murphy’s Pub
Location: Fells Point, Baltimore
New Name: Murphy’s Law

RESULT: ClOSED. Now to be fair these bars may suffer from all kinds of pre-existing conditions, but for a bar to close right after world renowned expert Taffer comes in and makes it over is really an embarrassment. I don’t know a thing about Baltimore but I do know that if a decent bar opened in my area (similarly sized, I think) it would at least last awhile on the hype if it had even a decent foundation that has used the “science” that Taffer prides himself on. 

1 for 13

 

Mystique or Murder?
Bar Name: Mystique Lounge
Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
New Name: Aura Nightclub

RESULT: Closed. Remember how I was just comparing Taffer to a Single A baseball player on the verge of being released? Taffer just hit into two double plays. 

1 for 14

 

Bottomless Pit
Bar Name: The Olive Pit
Location: Orange, California
New Name: The O.P. (modernized old name)

RESULT: Reverted back to old name, theme. Don’t serve food. Same place before it was rescued. 

1 for 15

 

Broke Black Sheep
Bar Name: Black Sheep
Location: Cheviot, Ohio
New Name: The Public House

RESULT:  Kept the great new name, 3 Yelp Reviews (what a launch!), 2 stars. 

1 for 16

 

Weber’s of Lies
Bar Name: Weber’s Place
Location: Reseda, California
New Name: Weber’s Rum Bar and Grill (modernized old name)

RESULT:  I watched this episode last night and since it’s near where I live considered giving it a look since I like Tiki Bars (think the Tiki Ti in east hollywood). The reviews look awful, everyone lamenting  that the place had character before. 

1 for 17

 

Owner Ousted
Bar Name: Win, Place or Show Sports Bar & Grill
Location: Fairfield, Ohio
New Name: America Live Bar & BBQ

RESULT: CLOSED.  Also watched this one last night. In fairness the logo looked kind of cool in a generic way, borrowed heavily from Live Aid or those types of concerts, but i’ve been to shitty towns in Ohio and figured if I lived in that area i’d probably go to this bar for music sometimes. Taffer did OK with this one, although I have no idea about what other bars are in the area. (Ok just checked, looks like mostly dive bars. Duh, make a cool dive bar. Well it looks like he sorta tried to but in a very Rainforest Cafe, Hard Rock type way..). In looking at some news story that says the owners were way behind on their rent and the owner locked the place up, Two things, if the place was popping the owner would probably wait for the rent money to come, or the owner might be a shithead who figured he could kick them out for non-payment and rent it for more to someone else and keep all the nice shit that Bar Rescue did to it. I’ll give this one to him because property owners can ruin great places and it’s not definitive what ruined this place, although the camera angles on this episode were obviously deceptive to make it look like there was over 100 people in the place on the “launch”, though it looked like about 40. 

2 for 18

 

—————————————————–

2 for 18 is a .111 batting average. This is about what a pitcher in major league baseball (who usually is forced to sacrifice bunt) bats when they are a really poor hitter.

To put it into business terms, let’s say that you opened 18 businesses at the cost of $200,000 each. You would need these two (which are not huge successes, as noted) to earn $3.6 Million in profit just to break even on your bad investments.

You have a probability of about 18% in coming out ahead at playing 20 hands of Blackjack, a game that is designed for the player to lose.  With Bar Rescue’s percentage of 11% success (based on my very liberal standards of not closing or being a disaster) you’d be almost twice as likely to win money at a Las Vegas casino than you would investing your money in a bar that has been rescued by the Spike TV show.

Sadly for us, there is no secret information, there is no magic beans. We will most likely not have posh pre-retirement careers as consultants. Success is in work, not in magic. It doesn’t upset me that this reality show is not what it purports to be, more so that it’s just so much not what it purports to be.  None of the bars are rescued, and Jon Taffer doesn’t make money with bars, but rather with selling bar owners magic beans.

In HL Mencken’s work referenced earlier, which I just happened to be reading around the same time, he he closes with a last grab at understanding the etymology of words created in barrooms, which like Bar Rescue’s efforts fails, so does he:

 

“Most of the authorities say that it arose from the fact that the bartenders of the 1890′s called a glass a ball and that  highball flowed naturally from the fact that what was formerly a whiskey-and-soda needed a taller glass than a straight whiskey. But all the bartenders above 80 that I am acquainted with say that ball was never used for a glass. Other authorities report that highball was lifted from railroad men, who use the term for go ahead.  But this sounds pretty thin, for if the railroad men of that era ever detected a bartender putting water (and especially soda water) into whiskey they would have butchered him on the spot. Highball is listed in nearly all the dictionaries published since 1930, but not one of them attempts its etymology. Nor does any of them try to unravel the mystery of cocktail. “

 

 

Edit: if you’ve been on Bar Rescue or been to a bar on Bar Rescue give me some inside info below in the comments. thank you please. 

Comments

comments

98 Comments

on “Bar Rescue’s Track Record Of Suck
98 Comments on “Bar Rescue’s Track Record Of Suck
    • IMDB bio information is often written by the person, or representatives of the person they are describing. So Jon Taffer or someone representing him likely wrote that description.
      While Taffer probably has had success somewhere, IMDB is not a resource that any legitimate journalist would use in investigating his claims.

    • denizen, perhaps you are unaware that IMDB prefers to get biographies, etc., *directly from the biographee*. If you can’t see that Jon or his publicist wrote that information himself, then you lack the discernment necessary to do qualitative research to eliminate biases in source materials.

  1. It sure is a sad day in the history of intelligent human beings when people still don’t do the research before writing articles… look it up next time.

  2. That page would’ve helped me? No you goddamned fool, it reads similarly vague:

    Host and Co-Executive Producer, “Bar Rescue” President, Nightclub & Bar Media Group Chairman, Taffer Dynamics, Inc.
    The wine world has Robert Parker. Cigar and pipe smokers have Richard Carlton Hacker. But within the greater nightclub, bar and restaurant industry, there is no greater authority than Jon Taffer. With close to three decades of hands-on experience, Taffer is two-time winner of the Bar Operator of the Year award, among a myriad of other honors, and his renowned method of management, “Taffer Dynamics,” has become the gold standard of the industry. As chairman of Taffer Dynamics and President of the Nightclub & Bar Media Group, Taffer is a highly respected industry expert, management guru and, in a few months, television star as well.
    In Summer 2011, Spike TV will debut “Bar Rescue,” a documentary-style series spotlighting Jon Taffer as he gives struggling restaurants and bars a last chance to succeed. Focusing on one establishment each week, the series puts Taffer at the heart of the storm: helping to improve every facet of an American restaurant or bar: from its theming to staffing, pricing to promotions, menus to music. If there’s anyone who can save it from going belly-up, it’s Jon Taffer. If not, it’s toast.
    As Chairman of Taffer Dynamics, an award-winning restaurant operator, owner and concept developer, Taffer was appointed by Questex Media Group LLC to serve as president of its Nightclub & Bar Media Group in January 2010. In this post, he oversees, and facilitates synergies among, the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show, Nightclub & Bar Magazine and related digital media products, also sitting on its board of directors.
    As chairman of Taffer Dynamics, Taffer serves as a consultant and development adviser to major restaurants, nightclubs and hotels worldwide. Taffer Dynamics acquired Neighborhood Marketing Institute (NMI) in 2004, continuing to evolve its offerings with powerful strategies and tactics that typically increased sales by double digits.
    As one of only six inductees into the Nightclub Hall of Fame, Taffer is also the holder of such distinctions as “Pub Master” in the United Kingdom with multiple honors as “Operator of the Year” and winner of “Property of the Year.” He was also recognized as “a major leaguer” in Inc. Magazine’s feature, “Angels of the Night.”
    Taffer is a coveted keynote speaker at major industry conventions and events.

    Tell me one piece of specific information in there as it relates to Jon Taffers pedigree? Do you work for Taffer’s production company or something?

  3. lol. What 12 year old kid wrote this piece of shit? I’m serious. PLEASE don’t reply that you’re older and know anything about business.

    As someone who has ran a flagship store in Times Square & Herald Square in NYC, let me help you out.

    When a business is losing money , it’s a failure, period! Whether they like being pirates or spending time drinking with customers, letting their staff steal $$/drinks from them and so is NOT Jon Taffer’s problem or doing. See, the OWNERS are the problem and IF they knew anything then they wouldn’t be down 100k, 200k !!!!

    So Jon Taffer comes in , shows all the mold, dirt, dead rats/mice, holes in the wall etc that are in the place and you give Jon shit? Jon yells because clearly everyone is deaf and blind to what’s going on. I guess Jon is supposed to come in with flowers and smiles, correct?

    Finally, “Bar Rescue” gives them a re-modeling, new name & exposure, but yet somehow you want to mock Jon for the failures? How is this his fault? If someone gave you a winning lottery ticket and you dropped it in the sewer then I guess we should laugh at the guy who gave you the ticket?

    Look you peon. I get that it’s a TV show & I’m show there’s some editing done to up the drama, issues etc. However, in the end, the YELP reviews BEFORE “Bar Rescue” shows up is proof that there was a lingering problem and not for a few months, but YEARS!

    Don’t speak on business when clearly you have no idea what it’s like to manage people, money , marketing, operations & all the other aspects of business that are involved.

    Jon Taffer is a proven success story in his business, if you could learn to do actual research, and you are a clown mocking something that you clearly don’t understand

    P.S. Not all the places closed & not all the reviews mock the show. Stop reaching

    • As someone who has opened, owned and run a few restaurants, working all aspects I find these shows fascinating in the thought that give me a week and I will make you solvent is a stretch, to put it lightly. Thank goodness you get there is some editing, of course there is alot of editing, to create bs drama. Anyone can consult, the Kardashians are considered celebrities, doesn’t make it so. The question was what bars did he open, all we get is nonsense like “In this post, he oversees, and facilitates synergies among, the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show, Nightclub & Bar Magazine and related digital media products, also sitting on its board of directors.” He oversaw synergies, I know he had one in Philly in which he lied on his application (the area is zoned residential) but his self promotion glosses over facts. You want to be ‘Man of the year’ for some cause, raise money and voila.

    • “How is this his fault?”

      Well, Bob, it’s Jon Taffer’s fault because his whole show is about taking a shitty bar that’s about to fail and making it a non-shitty bar that won’t fail. Have ya’ SEEN the show? That’s the premise.

      To your argument, though – you’re right in some cases. Going past the yelling, which is just good TV (so what, that it makes him look like an asshole), and let’s move past the point that most of his drink “experts” are either brand squids or made-for-TV talking heads (except Tobin, of course), just giving someone new tools & tricks won’t save a bar [Or, as a side-note - restaurant, which is what these places really are, since the show tends to spend more time in the kitchen than behind the bar.].

      The problem that I have with the show; beyond the fact that I love this industry and wish that someone actually GOOD was represented, is that on the show, he does little to help them live after he leaves. He purports to be this ‘expert’, but since most of the bars that he’s helped fail… Well, what kind of consultant can say shit when these are the results. Yes – yes. It’s TV. They pick the bars because of what’ll make great TV, but that seems worse. It takes a very low trough of integrity to do a show about saving bars but not really do much to SAVE the bar. What he gives them is life support, not a lease on life.

      For instance, you referenced the show with the pirate bar. As a consultant myself (and bar owner), it SHOCKED me to see what name he came up with. “Corporate” bar? Really? If he was a doctor or lawyer, he’d be sued for malpractice for doing such a horrible thing. Note to you and Jon – you can’t put a round peg in a square hole, and it’s a GUARANTEE that the bar’ll fail when you take a main concept and change it as far from the wishes, dreams & likes of the bar owner and then expect it to work. OK – they like pirates. Well, if you don’t want to make it a theme pirate bar, then AT LEAST make the theme something that will encourage them to want to come to work. That was just plan BAD. Bad.

      “Look you peon.”

      Wow, it only took you five paragraphs to lose any & all credibility that you could have had. Besides missing the main point that the show is not doing what it claims to do (saving bars), having its defense be so lackluster in defense & tact… Well, not so good.

    • Please provide me with a few of the world class establishments Jon Taffer has owned. Just two or three. I want to verify he “success” is tied to real operating businesses, and not ebooks.

  4. I’m not sure its fair to blame Taffer for all these failures. These establishments are obviously run by complete idiots who deserve to go bankrupt. You can’t fix stupid in 5 days even with a $10,000 photo juke box!

  5. I wonder how many of those “failures” were ultimately the stubborn owners, or their equally dopey staff, reverting to the norm as soon as Taffer left.

    I’m guessing a whole lot, considering how many revert.

    Conversely, I wonder how many “successes” are riding the 15 minutes of fame. There ought to be a revisit episode next season, now that some good time has passed.

    ————————————————-

    If, as you say “Success is in work, not in magic” I highly recommend you watch the episodes, rather than consult a combination of yelp.com and the wiki page. The tagline of the show is “Changing bars is easy; changing people is hard”, and in some cases it’s really, shockingly, horrifically, true. That’s why it’s a good watch. Some of these places aren’t going to be rescued even if you transplanted the staff into a successful restaurant, with the sole instruction to copy the last guys – they’d take that restaurant and go broke.

    For example, I happened to watch the pirate episode tonight and profoundly disagree with you. There’s a really good reason why there aren’t any other pirate bars in Maryland – it’s cold, there’s no beach, no colleges nearby, nothing that would say “Hey, this market needs some pirates!” In some cases, you don’t need to have run bars for 30 years to spot the problems – quadruple shots of triple-fisted rum bottles doesn’t sound like tasty grog to me.

    Favourite line from that episode : Jon is talking to the owner, who has revealed she, her husband, and her daughter, lives with her parents and is -$900K in debt.

    “DO YOU WANT TO BE A PIRATE, OR DO YOU WANT TO SEND YOUR DAUGHTER TO COLLEGE?”

    I’m sure you question Jon’s decision to call it the Corporate Bar and Grill that episode, and I agree. Not because I hate the name – the only pirates not in Somalia today work in corporations, after all. Wonder why nobody pointed that out to the staff? – but there was no way in hell you’d see that staff working there! When I saw the reveal I was like “Oh my god, someone actually disliked one of these things? *shows the “Corporate” sign* Oh yeah, I can see why they would”

    So sure – not the greatest Reno idea ever – but can you tell me with a straight face things would be different with (Insert any idea not involving pirates)? The chef spits out his own cooking! The people were loons!

    I thought the Mystique turnaround was a success? Their website is up, they’re still running events – actually, when coupled with the above miss, I wonder if your batting average in this article was really up to par

  6. The concept of the show is good. I am not doubting his knowledge of bars and restaurants, however, his lack of people skills and constant yelling is growing old. There are ways to get points across to people with yelling and being obnoxious, especially since he doesn’t know any of them. I forget the episode but when he used at the owners brother in law and he challenged him to go outside I wanted to see Jon get his ass kicked for being a douche.

    Why the staff trains and learns how to cook and bar tend, running a business can’t be learned in 5 days. It looks good on camera but for people with no business sense its a recipe for disaster. Maybe he could send the owner to school to learn how to run a business.

    • I agree with you about his yelling and stuff. Its become a reality tv trope: the no-nonsense gruff genius who will save you if you let him.

      I disagree about school for running a business. Many immigrants with no formal education can and have grasped business and suceeded. Most of these saps seem like they want to be cool by owning a bar without realizing profitable bars are rare and people that want to work at a bar are generally dirtbags.

      i dont think business acumen is the problem, i think its just a mix of all the wrong people and circumstances, as another commenter said about a pirate restaurant in new england or some goddamned place.

  7. As many comments suggest at an intuitive level: inferring Taffer’s ability to turn around a bar requires one to know the success rate of similar bars that do not receive Taffer’s treatment. Of course, it is obvious Taffer isn’t a turn-around genius, but it is possible he provides a modest to moderate edge with his advice.

  8. It’s quite obvious, everyone agrees to be filmed and eat crow from that extremely obnoxious-inlaw comfort level Taffer and his evil elves… Just so they can get a renovation. That’s it, that’s all. Anyone who has owned a bar/nightclub laughs at his advice knowing he is completely full of $%&*.

  9. Methinks your are shooting the messenger. It’s clear that most of the owners are in denial about the prospects for their business. That’s why they sought his help. And maybe if they don’t like the changes they get publicity and can revert back to their losing ways or tweak what he’s done to their place. Jon is essentially performing triage on many of the places some of them are in dire straits and some are not. At the end of the day, I enjoy his show it’s entertaining. If you don’t like it don’t watch it.

  10. What you’ve wholly missed here is that standard-approach business isn’t wrong because it’s unsuccessful. Those Yelp reviews tell you what people care about bars think, not what the owner’s pocket-book says, right?

    But taking a bar that’s bleeding money and immediately sucking all the soul out of it is the far-right end of the spectrum. It’s how you rescue a business if you think of the owner and employees are liabilities. The cold truth is that Douchebag-bars where the Tapout assholes go tend to make a lot of cash – what a shock that consumers who love to pay too much for bland products will spend a lot in your shitty bar!

    There’s really no restaurant or bar I’ve ever heard of where the theme was a deal-breaker. I mean come one, they’ve got food and booze, customers are hungry and thirsty and ideally already nearby, the end. The benefit to be gained here is a change in the attitude of the owner and staff (or enough change in the owner to CHANGE the staff) whereas on the topic of themes, specific specials, etc. I think you’re right; some consultant armed with perfectly wonderful knowledge of how some other successful bar works is unlikely to help you.

    So come on, let’s attack this shit where it deserves to be attacked! Self-important investors and consultants sucking the life out of ever-smaller businesses because people in trouble don’t know where to turn. It’s not quite as bad as devouring an engineering firm and outsourcing its work to India, but give them time. This process has barely begun to become cold and dehumanizing.

    • the wikipedia for this show has some stats, but I couldn’t find any of the 600 bars and restaurants Jon has owned or flipped. In the show opener, you see the logo for Haze nightclub in Vegas while they mention his background making one think he had something to do with that place… a search of this pulled up a janky website listing a bunch of Vegas clubs next to his face, but never explaining the association.

      Taffer came out of nowhere it seems, and while I think he has a bit of a better track record than what is recorded in this article – it’s not great. These are real restaurants and bars featuring real incompetence. Some people are beyond saving. Some people shouldn’t own or operate a bar or restaurant.

      The show is interesting for what it is. It’s entertaining. Taffer gives good generic advice – clean, serve, have good equipment – and also some not so great advice. Bar and restaurant owners – it takes a certain type of ego. The whole concept of this show runs against that, so it’s not surprising to see these businesses fail more than Gordon Ramsay’s track record (not to mention Ramsay actually knows what he’s doing).

  11. For what it’s worth, I did some digging into Taffer, and while you can find some publicist-spewed BS regarding his skills, finding solid, factual evidence of his ownership/management record, his education/experience involved in his craft, etc., is fairly difficult.

    However, most of his principles demonstrated on the show are simple, excellent practices for anyone in the industry. A bartender SHOULD have everything they need within a 6-8 foot space, to improve efficiency. A service staff SHOULD be familiar with the drinks and food items on their menu. An employee SHOULD NOT be drinking on the job, or stealing product, EVER. There could well be some real consultant just off-camera sharing these useful tidbits with the host of the show.

    But the whole bit is hardly about failing bars at all. When a business is as far in-debt as these commonly are, there isn’t a whole lot to save them. If a small-town bar has a bad reputation in their community, they are going to fail, regardless of what bar wizard(self made or not) comes in to “fix” them. They’ve been branded.

    “Bar Rescue” is about Jon Taffer getting his name out so people know who he is. It’s about Jon Taffer getting paid by POS and various other companies to place their products on television and say good things about them. It’s about Jon Taffer standing on camera yelling at some idiot owner, or poorly-paid, unmotivated service staff, because that’s what gets the ratings these days.

    I do not watch “Bar Rescue” because I think Taffer is turning around failed businesses. I know he isn’t. I watch “Bar Rescue” because I think some of the thought-processes behind it are solid, whether they are corporately-geared or not. I enjoy sifting through the hour of yelling, crying, swearing, and product-placement to find the 1 or 2 bits of useful, simple advice that can be adhered to by any business owner. I like to laugh at the floundering schmucks, and I like to see their new menus, their new drinks(I play bartender at home sometimes), and their new reveal.

  12. I would like to defend john taffer because i am the GM of racks in corona season 1 episode 1 and we are doing awesome since he has come through. From what i can tell alot of people who own these bars do not embrace the change and go back to what was not working for them before which i do not understand. Let me think im about to go out of business and now i have a new lease on life but instead i will go back to doing what was putting me out of business in the first place. So who ever wrote this is basing alot of info off of yelp and some people on there just go on to bash any business because they can. I know for a fact we have almost doubled our business since the show aired and are growing slow and steady.

  13. Fantastic.

    My favorite quote from the movie? That was his “Mixologist”, Michael Tipps who stated, “If a customer asks you to shake a manhattan, they should be shot & killed”. Sure, sure. This is supposed to be good TV, but still…I don’t think that they understand that ‘mixology’ is not the first job of a bartender.

    Michael – it’s this thing called ‘customer service’. Dogmatic attachment to orthodoxy has NOTHING to do with bartending.

    This is my second post abut this shitty show today on the ol’ Facepage, but you can’t slay a dragon without trying more than a little bit.

  14. the parameters of the show are far too restrictive for him to be successful. The man has $10,000 and one week to turn around a failing business?

    really? most bar owners I know couldn’t decide on the color of their napkins within a week. they damn sure couldn’t develop a coherent, profitable, and appealing new menu in a week. or generate a theme, or design a sign, or logo. or arrange for contractors to come and remodel the place.

    so it’s completely COMPLETELY unrealistic for anyone, Mr. Taffer included, to be able to fire out new money-making restaurants and bars within days. If it were so easy, there would be plenty of people doing it. So relax.

    And as for YELP – those self-important schmucks can rot.

  15. I have watched most all of the shows.. As far as YELP being the basis for your whole opinion, that is stupid.. Anyone can submit to Yelp, even owners of other businesses in the area or employees who have been terminated.. You yourself stated the biggest support for Jon Taffer.. Most all the businesses changed the name back to what it was when they were failing and some changed the menu back too… I fail to see your logic in saying that it is his fault they are back to or are still a shitty bar.. Most of your opinions make no sense.. So what if he doesn’t have hundreds of bars and restaurants.. Most everything he teaches/preaches is common sense…

  16. Even though I rarely watch “Reality TV”, I took a strong interests in the ‘Bar Rescue’ series (watching every episode twice) due to the fact that I spent a few years managing bars and nightclubs in Maricopa county, AZ. and have personally experienced and observed many different types of bars/restaurants/nightclubs succeed and fail during and after my employment in that unusually strange field of business.

    So, I couldn’t avoid the temptation of watching if Bar Manager extraordinaire Jon Taffer could say and do anything “real” and substantial that would actually rescue a bar after it’s been so terminally mismanaged to the point that the owner is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. And, is so desperate to “turn things around” that the owner is willing to appear on a reality TV series called Bar Rescue. Even though most bar owners need to stay as far away from any Reality TV series as humanly possible, in order to avoid permanently embarrassing themselves on TV. So, I had to tune in and find out for myself.

    First of all, anyone could temporarily make any bar appear that it’s been magically “rescued” if you had a team of bar restorationist swoop in and fully restore and modernize a bar(free of charge to the owner) then have a massively advertised reopening, and then leave after the first night or two, and call it a success.

    Of coarse the bar is going to be busy for the first few nights after all that, or maybe even a few weeks, just because the joint is renamed and appears to be something new and different than what it was. Even though, it’s still the same place at its core because the same owner is still at the helm and managing his ship into the same mismanagement iceberg, or bergs, that has plagued him before the opinionated load mouth and camera crews showed up.(so there’s that problem with the principle of the show)

    While I do believe that Jon Taffer has a lot to offer a poorly mismanaged joint by getting control of the cost of doing business, and stepping in to rearrange the chain of management command, and replacing a few bad managers with possibly better ones.(That the owner seems unable to do for themselves for whatever reason)

    And of coarse, provide the owner with that totally free fully renovated modernized bar certainly doesn’t hurt either.

    However, despite the claim that liquor sales or up 25% or higher after a month the bar reopens. You really can’t claim that a bar is “rescued” unless it maintains a large number in sales, that exceeds far-and-above the overall cost of doing business.

    And, considering the huge debt that some of the bar owners have incurred before Jon Taffer’s arrival. The rescued bar owner needs to maintain that ratio of sales to Cost-of-Business for several years after Jon Taffer leaves. Very difficult to do.

    So, the percentage of profit on liquor sales tells you nothing about the overall success or failure of the bar once it’s been “rescued”.

    And, unless Jon Taffer and the Spike TV Crew are willing and able to take over an owners bar for several months at least, and work with the staff and management everyday until they get their act completely straightened up, and the bar is consistently in the black instead of the red?

    Then the series “Bar Rescue” isn’t really doing anything to “rescue” a bar other than giving it a new name (that most owners don’t want) and a quick free makeover.

    To call that a “Bar Rescue”, is like saying a surgeon rescued a fatally shot patient after giving them a band-aid and some lipstick. While the patient will probably die shortly after the surgeon leaves? HEY, they’ll be the best looking corpse in the morgue. SUCCESS!!!!

    In reality, very few (if any?) bars actually can be “rescued” once it’s reached the point of being thousands of dollars in debt no matter how much they’ve altered their personal managing “style” and staff. Simply due to lack of capital available at that point to renovate their bar, and change that bad reputation the bar has acquired due to previous mismanagement. And I have yet to see an episode of Bar Rescue that would compel me to change my opinion.

    Simply providing a bar owner, who is deeply in debt in order to keep the doors open, with a quick make over as part of an overall new business strategy in five days, and then leave.

    It’s like, providing a gambling addict who is hopelessly chasing his bets after losing all his money and possessions playing the slot machines, with a shave and a haircut while giving him a new winning strategy for Black Jack. Some people just don’t need to be gambling at all.

    Therefore, after watching ‘Bar Rescue’, and comparing it to my experience in the business. It’s another “Reality” TV series that has less to do with reality, and a lot more to do with manufacturing a false sense of reality for TV. But, I can’t help but like the show despite knowing all that.

    • I love your comment and I agree with you.
      The show is called “Bar Rescue”. The main issue most people seem to have with the success, or lack of by any bar is that it is the fault of the owner and staff. If Mr. Taffer was indeed capable of rescuing bars as the title suggests, then he should re-train the staff and owner as required. Unfortunately, the producers of this and other reality tv shows are not interested in doing that. Their goal is to get enough footage to fit their narrative. In the case of Bar Rescue, they need to a) find a failing bar, b) present a set of problems to solve, c) film scenes of Jon Taffer exploding for dramatic effect, d) make some cosmetic changes, e) create conditions to make the opening look successful and f) find ways to include as much product placement as possible to please advertisers.
      After that, they really don’t care what happens.
      The bar owner and staff are the real losers here. The entire premise of such a show depends on humiliating the subjects so that Taffer can come out looking like a hero. It’s sad. It’s Jerry Springer or Maury Pauvich for bars.
      I’ve worked in the bar business myself and I see that many of the changes are common sense. There’s no mystery or special knowledge here. A few good tips but nothing that couldn’t be learned from a customer and staff survey.

    • Some people just don’t need to be writing such long comments when they’re as sloppy and full of incomplete sentences as yours is, with some of those rambling incomplete sentences not only “completed” in separate sentences, but in entirely new paragraphs. Those kinds of mistakes aren’t even made by grade-schoolers.

      Damn, that was difficult to read. Either learn some basic grammar or stay away from writing such long comments.

    • Ok, I have to agree with pretty much everything you said even though I don’t frequent bars nor do I have any bar management experience outside of the bar at my old fraternity – which actually ran better than most of the bars Mr. Taffer has tried to salvage.

      That being said this is TV and if the problem can’t be solved in 60 minutes it doesn’t make for good TV now does it? I’ve gotten hooked on the show over the past week or two and I see the same common thread you mentioned. People who own failing bars are basically idiots. If anything I feel sorry for JT. I know a lot of what he’s doing is to popularize his ‘brand’ but good golly if I spent my time doing what he does and the owners don’t learn one damn thing from the experience…I dunno if I could keep going on with the show.

      The last straw for me was the Pirate bar in Silver Springs MD. I live about two hours from there so I was very interested to see how that one turned out long term thinking the next time I visited DC maybe I’d pop by Corporate Bar & Grill. And what does the owner do? Instead of at least trying to make a go of it and potentially make enough money to move out of her parent’s basement (with her boy toy of an eastern European husband) she immediately reverts back to the pirate theme?! There should be some sort of competency license for owning a bar. Unless you have lots of money and don’t care if you lose it all by serving Grog which is basically a butt load of alcohol served at a ridiculously low price. What an idiot.

      I think why the show is growing in popularity is because we, as Americans, love to see someone swoop in and help someone else in need. And then we, as Americans, love to ridicule the moron who just received a second chance and ignores the help and basically kicks sand in the face of the guy trying to help.

  17. Yeah the OP is still the way it was when it was revamped and it DOES serve food. I read this site and was thinking that show was a joke but now after reading the posts here it seems like this article is just as bad. Terrible info.

  18. Most of the bars are wayyy too far down the rabbit hole to save. You can’t overcome debts that large with a modest increase in sales. Tapper is too late in many cases.

    Further, Tapper needs to teach these people some fundamental business skills – how to hire & train, make a plan and enforce it. A new menu and a makeover won’t replace poor management.

    It’s too bad Tapper copied the Gordon Ramsay model – there’s a difference between a teacher and a disciplinarian.

  19. I had to respond to this idiotic article. You are going by yelp reviews and attempting to spin things in a negative light. Most of these owners are inept and severely lack a business education. The owners from Racks and Chicken Bone appeared on season two helping Jon!!

    Racks – Huge success and #s up
    Downeys – revitalized domenics career and saved bar from bankruptcy
    Abbey – legitimized the black sheep brother as a manager and #s are way up
    Kilkennys.- kids that let ex boyfriend manager.destroy business and revert changes
    Swanky bubbles – changes name back goes out of business
    Canyon inn – stubborn owner changes name back business up
    Blue frog – owner wants children toys plastered all over bar…despite this bar saved and numbers up
    Chicken bone -numbers up across the board and business is thriving. Owner was on second season with wife. Cost saving changes has business thriving.
    Champs – business saved from bankruptcy. Theft problem completely changed and business is sustained.
    Angry hams – reverted name back to insult towards locals. I wonder why business is not thriving.
    Tiki – completely thriving and business is better than it has been.in years.

    So that’s at least six businesses saved and that does not include the fact these idiotic owners cannot manage a business in most of these cases. The pirate bar even said the publicity from the show saved it and they watch it every Sunday. Free restoration and training.is fake? Tagger operated the best bars in Hollywood and Las Vegas. The author is an idiot

  20. A few notes:

    Taffer has mentioned in interviews that his company typically spends 30-45 days in a bar they are consulting for / “rescuing.” The constraints of a filming schedule and the premise of the show leaves him with 5 days. 1/6 – 1/9 of the time it normally takes.

    In that short amount of time, a remodel occurs, a pilot menu is made, a few signature drinks are set, a new theme is created, integrated into the routines, and marketed. Not to mention deficiencies in layout, business plans, etc… are pointed out and corrected.

    That’s A LOT for 5 days. Yes, old menu items are going to pop up. Taffer’s chefs give a small pilot menu – a place to start from. The drinks are signature, but not a whole drink menu. You can’t look at bringing back proven favorites from an old menu as Taffer failing. In 5 days – he gives you a foundation to build on. The worst bars are the ones that do nothing else and think they’ll coast on his changes alone (as per the reviews).

    As for names and themes – I don’t know how you decide a clear failure if the name reverts. He does a lot – more than just change the name. The Canyon Inn’s website promotes the music items Taffer added and advertises the types of drink/event promotions that Taffer stressed. Even the name was partially changed to Canyon Inn AND Saloon.

    Pirate’s didn’t ignore everything Taffer did either. If you notice, Yelp reviews mention them keeping the chef he added. You also see mention of change in layout, specials, etc… similar to what he preached. They rejected his remodel/theme, but they didn’t reject everything.

    You see that A LOT when you look up the bars that changed. They don’t forsake everything. Many of the changes, equipment, and business tips stick – even if they are repurposed.

    As for his career – in a few episodes he mentions managing The Viper Room and Barney’s Beanery. Those are some big name bars and should count for something(esp. The Viper Room).

    • Yeah, saw that episode about Barney’s. Ever BEEN there? I have. It turned me off of going into bars in LA for years (I live in Las Vegas and LIVE for dive bars). I thought he said he once WORKED there as his first experience, not MANAGED it, but I could be wrong. Either way, it’s the biggest dump in LA, and only enjoys business because it is famous for being Janis Joplin’s last watering hole the night she died. The bar top is burnt to a crisp from lighting alcohol on fire atop it (which I HAVE witnessed – something Taf has halted in other bars) and the parking next door is felonious. The Taffer Badger talks about keeping customers in the bar as long as possible, but at Barney’s if you stay inside more than 1-2 hours (I forget the limit) the valets (who require you to leave your keys) turn on your internal car lights to intentionally kill your car battery and then call a tow truck to tow your car away for a kick-back (to which we fortunately returned just as they were hooking it up and grabbed the keys out of the ignition, got in and locked the brakes to deter them (at which point we saw cash changing hands back))
      If working at Barney’s is Taf’s semi-sole claim to fame, he needs to find a new job.

  21. I have been a Nightclub Consultant for 40 years, I eat, sleep and breathe this industry and have turned around more clubs, bars, lounges, restaurants, sports bars, than Jon Taffer ever has. I do not desire a reality type tv show that is all hype.
    I was retained to REVAMP the largest nightclub complex in Northwest America that Mr Taffer had taken and implemented a sports bar concept, a steakhouse concept both failed miserably.
    I do not curse, I do not yell, I do not attack Owners, I stay with my Clients for six months after they are given my “REPORT” which weighs five pounds and is not on some dvd or the web. I provide the A to Z “FUN”, “WOW FACTORS” and “FAB”.
    The difference between Jon Taffer and I are he uses product placement to cover the latest pos or bar equipment he puts in, he does a fake recon when he already has hidden cameras installed, he does a Stress Test, when he already knows the staff is ill equipped to even handle such pressure. I do none of the above. Many of his segments include establishments that need to clean house and hire fresh new faces with no attitudes and resentment remaining.
    I have no use for club promoters, for the same local bands or for cheap or free drinks for ladies, I am all about making money and bringing in a quality crowd. NO hip hop crap.
    Anyway I wish Jon Taffer the best of health, but these episodes are dismal. I have been personally verbally attacked by Jon Taffer, but then I expect that, I pose a threat to him. His cursing in front of his Wife, Daughter, Female Employees, Female Customers, just is not warranted.
    Randy Gerber , Angel Management, Mansion Management do not do business like this.
    Tao is the #1 club and food establishment in the world, doing $56million a year. Of course they are in Vegas, but you don’t hear the cursing, you don’t see the screaming. They are like me Professionals.

    • If youa re so good at pturning things around and know how to brand and make things happen… then why is oyur web side one of the lousiest, most confusing things on the internet?!!!!! Come on, you’re all talk.

      John Taffer is doing a show sure., but he speaks the truth. It’s business folks, plain and simple..and most of the shows bar owners are twinks with empty pockets because of the atmosphere, they start drinking their own mix..and poof.. slide…

  22. We are talking about failing bars here. I’m not sure yelp reviews and keeping Jon’s name is the best benchmark for how Taffer did. Look at Gordon Ramsey’s show, I think all but TWO of the restaurants from the first 2 seasons closed within a year. Most of Taffers places are still open.

  23. So your only measurement of a bar’s success is what you read on Yelp, rather than the bar’s balance sheets? Interesting “research method” LOL!

    And no, I’m not going to call all of these bars to find out how they’re doing. YOU made the claim that Jon Taffer isn’t doing these people any good, so you should back up your statement with actual evidence. And no, Yelp reviews don’t count as “evidence,” for obvious reasons.

  24. I am 11 bars into the Yelp reviews and now have decided to stop proving a point…

    Here is what I got :

    6 of the first 11 bars listed were a 3.5, 1 was a 3, 2 were a 2.5 and 2 were closed. That is FAR from 0 for 11 as the writer of this article claimed.

    Some places changed names or whatever but in the end, it is the same moronic owners making the same bad decisions.

    If they do not take his advice and apply it day after day, they will fail.

    None of us can be sure what he teaches them off camera but, my guess is that unless you change the owners, bad habits always will remain.

    I really do not want to go any deeper into Yelp, I just wanted to say the writer of this article is off base.

    End of story.

  25. One of my first thought is that you can’t always believe yelp reviews and my second thought is who reads yelp reviews really any way… but that is really not the point of your writing. I really think it would behove Bar Rescue if they did a little more research on the bar owners and actually pick someone that could and is willing to accept his help. I don’t think it is Taffer’s fault that most of these bar owners are really alcoholics looking for a legitimate reason to get drunk every night.

  26. A few comments. First, Taffer is on star of this show because his A type, in your face personality make for good television. Television shows need both drama and good characters and his personality provides both, even if he might be a complete ass in person.

    That said, his ideas for most of these bars are generally solid and much better than the status quo. If a bar is clearly failing then providing a physical makeover, some fresh ideas and tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising certainly doesn’t hurt. But as others have stated, unless the people running these bars change their own methods then eventually they’re just going to revert back to the same habits that made them failures to begin with. Some of these bar owners are so stubborn that you know that things aren’t really going to change going forward. Also Taffer isn’t getting paid to be their full time consultant so I’m not sure why you would expect that he continue monitoring them for free? Life doesn’t work that way.

    At the same time, writing an article that is so clearly skewed to make Taffer look bad doesn’t make the author look very good either. The TV show is clearly biased in order to make Taffer and his ‘bar rescue’ look better than reality but this article is equally biased. And I’m also not sure what makes you think that you can determind if the makeovers were successful or not using the flimsy evidence provided? The research is sloppy and the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ grading scale clearly paints an incomplete picture.

    Writing a well researched article without the auther having a pre-determind outcome would certainly be one worth reading, unfortunately this article was not.

  27. Here’s the thing. The show is not meant to fix bars. It’s meant to generate revenue for Spike. So, the show creates advertising dollars for it’s entertainment value-and the success of the bar is irrelevant. In addition, the show generates profits(or at least promotional consideration) from the vendors that are pimped on it.

    People can complain all they want about the owners of the bars-but if the show is so forumlaic that in every single episode the owners don’t know anything about running a bar, you need to be suspicious. This is done to protect the show’s track record. If the bar is still open, Taffer can say he saved it. If the bar is closed, it’s because the owner is an idiot.

    Anyone who has seen the show should know that they’re going to be made to look like a fool on TV-so the only logical reason they would do this is for the facelift and the word of mouth. All told-it’s not a bad scheme.

    As for Taffer himself, he did run the Troubador in LA(a large place with international fame) in the late 70′s/early 80′s so that’s on his resume. It doesn’t even say if he did a good job there. Other than that, I haven’t found anything about his track record. For all I know, his other ventures could have been in North Haverbrook, Ogdenville and Brockway, because all we know about that 30 year span is self-promotion. There’s no testimonials or anything that vouch for his pedigree.

    Going by the changes he’s made on some of these shows, it looks like he doesn’t really know much about running a bar, so much as running a business. And that’s fine-if you’re only interest as a bar owner is to make money. But, any fool with enough money for a franchise fee can open up an Applebee’s or a Chili’s. And that’s pretty much what he does on this show-turns bars that are the owner’s vision and passion and converting it into a soulless dump that has fancy accoutrements. The Piratz episode is the perfect example-the “Corporate” bar would have flopped immediately, because of it’s lame approach. Same with the steampunk bar. They’re terrible ideas that reflect an absolute lack of local savvy and business acumen. The only reason they’d be able to claim even a modest success is due to the free advertising from Spike TV.

  28. More than anything else, what I get from these shows like Taffer and Ramsey is how many people open or run a business with no real knowledge of food or liquor handling or the mere basics of how to run a business – the most shocking thing is of course the lack of food sanitation. I have perused the liquor and food safety laws and regulations issued by the state of Michigan and the county in which I live… very lengthy, very complicated. But that these owners don’t understand the ABCs of kitchen sanitation and food handling – they should not be in the business!

    ALso begs the question – where are the health inspectors in these communities? Do they never go in the walk-in coolers?

  29. You realize your math is way off on the 2-12 right? The show is called bar rescue…meaning a bar was nearly closed before he shows up. If said bar is still operating..it’s a success…period.
    Your want to hold him accountable for those that closed, fine so be it..but if a bar is still open, even though your precious “yelp reviews” say it sucks.too bad, that place is stool open, mission accomplished

  30. I invest in bars and restaurants. Some have worked, some haven’t. I wish there was some magic formula that would ensure the success of a bar. If Jon had it, the group I invest with would bring him in and give him a management fee on every place we open. If Jon is as good as he says, he should have a list of bars and restaurants that he’s managed over the years. If someone claimed to be an Olympic caliber track and field coach, you’d expect them to name the Olympic athletes they’ve trained. That he won’t list his accomplishments, tells you he doesn’t have any.

    There’s an old saying in this business- “An expert is someone from out of town.” I’d say that applys to Jon, but I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be an expert in.

  31. You can update a bar’s looks, change it’s name, teach people how to make drinks and give better service but you can’t adjust the attitude of a dumbass owner or manager or change the thinking of stupid idiots who opened a bar because they liked it but never knew how to run a business.
    Every owner resists the change. You can bet that they go back to the way they used to do business as soon as the excitement wears off. I’m sure that if Jon hired a new manager and staff, businesses wouldn’t be closing later.

  32. I was involved in a recent redo of a bar and restaurant in Arizona, to the extent that I participated in the first night drama when Taffer came in to give the owners a ration of shit. They deserved it even though they were pushed to act a certain way I can tell you that the shouting match was not scripted in any way. The owners of this restaurant are smart people to begin with and this family has been in the restaurant business for a lot of years. They got a shove in the right direction and business is up 30 % in the month following. Whether they continue to improve on what Bar Rescue gave them will mean the difference in making it or going back to their old ways. In my opinion and many other people’s the name change was a smart move on Taffer’s part as it built on a 50 year history of well known restaurant business in Arizona. The cleaning up and redecorating were much needed and the addition of a smoker in the kitchen put their BBQ on the ” To die for list.” I also watch Bar Rescue and now that I know how they operate it seems stupid on the part of owners to change the name back and go back to what they were doing before. My motto has always been, “If you do what you always do you will get what you always got.”

  33. I hate to say but I really like these makeover of actual bars/restaurants/hotels etc. I think my fav is Restaurant impossible (love the biceps on Robert Irvine and his not quite right American English) and the little baldy on Hotel Impossible. They are both really funny and dont seem to take themselves seriously. Jon Taffer is really interesting. My hubbie has worked in the wine and liquor industry for over 20 years as a salesman and I have to say, Taffer looks like one of the old school liquor guys. The industry is changing with the younger 20 and 30 somethings but there are definately a lot of guys like this still in the bar/alcohol industry. Having lived in So Cal most of my life Iknow most of the areas he goes to and as someone said, there are a lot of douchebag people who go to douchebag bars. I think most place are basically on the verge of closing when they come to him and seriously what do you expect? Anyway still fun to watch as Taffer has a really unique approach and sometimes you can just cringe when the new name appears but overall I like that he is trying to get stupid people out of the amazingly deep shit hold they have dug themselves into.

  34. misanthropy, you are such jerk.. You obviously ahve a chip on your shoulder about John.. Is it that you can;t handle how he is right? His business sense is right on..It’s a business! Obviously you have not run, nor never will run a successful business!

      • No it’s Fuck You Misanthropic piece of garbage..
        And leave Drabek alone… You have no idea about which you write, nor any real purpose.

        John Taffer is good for the bar/restaurant business and showing others what’s needed to get the job done and be successful! I own a couple places that we had to do the same things with when we took over. And they are extremely successful using the same type of formula as Taffers.

        Jack Morris

  35. How can anyone argue with the business principals that Taffer tries to impart to these hapless owners? Every bar owner, successful or not, should watch this show for business insights. He does market research and finds out who and where the competition is, he insists on cleanliness (especially from the kitchen), he informs the owners of how to measure profitability (most don’t know their costs, or which drinks make them the most money), he puts in control systems so that data can be collected, he advises on over-pours and theft, he gets rid of thieving and useless employees, he corrects dangerous situations, improves lighting and sound, he advises owners and managers not to drink in their own bar….how can anyone argue with these principals?

    Who knows why business owners revert to their old name? Pride? Business contracts written under the old name? Impotent nose-thumbing at arrogant Taffer — once he’s left, that is? Stupidity?

  36. Anyone who has spent any time in the bar business will tell you that Taffer obviously knows his stuff. It’s possible to argue how much the format of the show actually benefits the bar owners but you can’t argue Taffer’s knowledge. Yes the yelling can get a little tiresome but let’s not forget we’re watching a show on Spike, one step above Trutv. Plus as John has pointed out, sometimes you have to yell to reach these people and get them mad enough to care. Maybe it’s dime store psychology but more often than not it seems to work.

  37. On YELP, The Canyon Inn account repeatedly states that bar rescue is fake. I am surprised they are not contractually forced to keep that to themselves:

    “ou probably didn’t notice any evidence of the show because it was scripted and fake as most Reality TV is these days. We went along w/it to get some publicity and some free upgrades but they make it out to be a little bit more on TV. Besides a coat of paint, a new floor and a fancy bar-top, we are exactly the same as before the show.”

    “Not much changed after the show because the show was fabricated. Spike TV offered us money to go along with a scripted episode so we took the offer. “Pauly” moonlights as an actor and they thought it would be good for ratings if he went “head to head” with Jon Taffer (the host) for ratings. Judge us if you will but we received an enormous amount of money and increased sales on top of an already fantastic business due to the exposure.”

  38. Funny how this works out…in the efforts we see on this site to discredit Jon Taffer and the Bar Rescue formula, really begs the question, what are your credentials???

    So this whole summary of failures and success are based around “Yelp” reviews? Yelp…a place where foodies and douchtastic hipsters and chain haters reside?
    The same “Yelp” that has been accused of manipulating reviews and the mechanics of the site, in order to sell a service? I recently saw an episode where they trasnformed Black Sheep into The Public…low and behold, the 5 douchy reviews of Yelp, puts it at 2 stars…Metromix Cincinnati, foursquare and urbanspoon all rate it at 4 or more with over 125 reviews. So to base the success or failure of a business based on “5″ reviews from a questionable review site, is an epic fail in any reality.

    Really I only dug into one of the accusations on the “track record” which revealed a lot about the so-called “track record list” posted here…and I am declaring foul on a hypocrite with no credibility who rants on blog sites about peoples credibility!

    This bs here is more like the “suck” of hypocrisy”!

    But hey…its your reality, right? A blog on the internet….time for a reality check, me thinks!

  39. Could I ask why you put “UFC” and “homoerotic” under the same demographic? Stopped reading once I saw the “Yelp” reviews as a source. Jumping to conclusions with inconclusive data. Lots of grammar errors.

    This is a TERRIBLE post, just terrible. If you are going to give a thorough review such as this, do some research before you post the blog.

    And everyone is ripping you to shreds in these comments, but you only choose to respond to a few. This isn’t a coincidence, nor is it one that you have only responded to a few of the comments, not the intelligent ones. Stop writing.

  40. Hey Misanthrope … You are a complete IDIOT

    You didn’t even notice that half of the bars you listed that failed or are doing poorly again WENT BACK TO THEIR OLD BAR FORMAT … and 1 of the bars .. Murphy’s Law in Baltimore was in negotiations to sell before Bar Rescue showed up. They used Bar rescue to up the price. The owner and the employees of the Pirate Bar in Silver Spring are complete nutjobs.

    You do realize that the bars on are their last legs when Bar Rescue walks in the door ? It should be expected that their will be some failures anyway

    The biggest problem in most bars are the employees, mgmt, and owners. Taffer can’t fire the owners and he can’t fire all of the employees otherwise the show would have to stay at a location for a few weeks until they could find new employees to have a competent staff that doesn’t carry the negative baggage.

    The fact is that Bar Rescue puts those awful bars in a position to succeed. It’s up to the people to make it happen.

    Your dishonesty is now exposed … Whine On !

    • If Taffer didn’t change the owner’s management style or how decisions were made, then the bar wasn’t rescued. It’s called “Bar Rescue” not “Bar Decor”.
      I’d watch the show just to find a potential location for my new bar. The interiors will be new.

  41. Most of the bars that failed after Jon Taffer “rescued” them changed their name back or went back to the old theme and probably never put to use the new training. Even in the opening theme he mentiones you can fix a bar but it’s harder to fix people.

  42. You can remodel and revamp any bar/restaurant you want but it all comes down to one thing:

    1)you probably are NOT creating new clientelle.

    Those patrons will have to be “taken” from well established competitors in the area.

    If you revert to the same layout as you had previously such as “Piratz”.People will just assume you are serving the same quality drinks and food as what they previously hated.

  43. This kind of “evaluation” of the record of Bar Rescue is pretty lame. The objective is to save bars that would otherwise fail. These bars are almost always near closing, and the ONLY measure is if Taffer’s intervention results in a bar that stays open.

    By that measure he has a good record. It seems that even when bars go back to an old name or incorporate some of their old theme they have retained at least some of his teachings – they MUST have learned something about drinks, or food, or service, or management, just being clean or most of them would be closed.

    IF you were serious about such an evaluation, then the ONLY measure is survival. By that measure, Taffer has been a benefit.

  44. While I agree completely with your article, relying on YELP as a reliable resource is akin to relying on hotmail for a universally respected e-mail source. YELP sucks. Just slightly more than old Johnny here. But watching this show, he’s got some good ideas. Horrible implementation, as if these idiots have the drive to even keep up with the drastic changes while simultaneously alienating the customer/friend base they founded their businesses on…some businesses are doomed to fail. They fail for a reason.

  45. Measuring success on the back of Yelp reviews is not really a good metric. The real answer as to whether or not John Taffer is successful is whether or not these business have become profitable and that information is not readily available.

  46. “Bar Rescue”, like many other shows on television, only offers a brief look at what life is like. You can’t learn lessons from life simply by watching a 30 minute sitcom on family values in the same way you can learn about saving a failing business by watching an hour of this show. Contextually speaking, the show does what it’s supposed to do: briefly entertain us; but if you’re expecting miracles to take place, then you’re in for disappointment.

    I’m not a fan of paying people money to consult with me about what’s wrong with my business which will exacerbate my debt issues; however, I do feel that Jon Taffer knows what he’s talking about. Some of the people whom he deals with on his show are among the most irresponsible, incompetent, stubborn, close minded, and ignorant people as it pertains to owning a business. A word of advice to folks who are trying to open your own business: education is key. If you don’t have the proper knowledge of what it takes to own a business, you will fail. The failure rate of any business is 90%; therefore, it would behoove all business owners to learn about that business, its location, its clientele, as much as possible by carrying out proper due diligence, and not opening for business on a whim.

    Some of these folks don’t know the market they are working in, they don’t know the potential clientele that could walk through their doors, they don’t know what their costs of doing business are, they don’t know proper standard operating procedures; and Jon Taffer aptly points these things out. If you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, you have no business trying to open up a business in the first place. Is some of the show’s premise unrealistic? Absolutely. I don’t think that you can deal with widespread issues that have been so pervasive, leading to the deterioration of the business, and hope to alleviate all of those troubles in five days. The success of a bar is a process as is the failing of a bar. Those things don’t happen overnight, so to expect that miracles can be worked in five days is unrealistic.

    What is realistic, however, is the ineptitude of aspiring business owners. By the time Jon Taffer gets to work with some of these people, the business has such an insurmountable mountain to climb characterized by crippling debt that no amount of work he does can save these failing businesses. Furthermore, when bar owners revert back to their errant ways after Jon Taffer leaves, it’s no wonder why they came to be in dire straights in the first place.

  47. I feel bad for you that you use yelp as your resource. Most people who had a decent or better time rarely get excited enough to say,” oh man! I better go post on yelp how great this place is!” Unless they’re paid to do so. Mostly people who are angry enough are likely to post. So yelp is very biased. As a matter of fact if you use yelp to make a decision to go anywhere you would never leave home…. Hmmmm is that why you actually spent this much time on probably one of the worst research I have ever seen? You just never leave the house. I hope you type really hard when you put your angry response that I’ll never read.

  48. Really you use Yelp as the case against bar rescue.. Wow one idiot in a million uses Yelp. I see your simplification of John’s formula posted but these idiots can’t even get that right. I see you dogging on John pretty good.. You must be one of those lame assholes who lives in your parents basement. You take up for Piratz a bunch of wanta be butt pirates. Yeah ok lame review asshole

  49. Your review sucks. You have manipulated the data, producing an ejaculation of bullshit. Here’s my advice: find another line of work/play.

  50. So many professionals offering their insights in an industry they have worked in for years but have always been a follower. Never an owner. Sure, we have all washed dishes, Dj’d, poured a drink, blah blah, but until its your name on the lease, then fuck off. You have no clue as much as you think you do.
    Taffer found a niche that nobody else had. Jealous? I would be. Because after his time at nightclub and bar magazine and the years before that, he networked with the best in the biz. Notice he iesn micro manage like most business owners do? No, he brings in the best of their respective fields. That’s how you do it you fucking morons. You don’t have to know everything. Let others tat excel in their fields excel. Be a leader. Sooooooo fucking ignornt

  51. misanthropy

    It’s bad enough that you did not have the foresight to realize that basing your results on the data acquired from YELP would make you look ignorant and foolish. But, you continue to prove your ignorance and foolishness each and every time you reply to someone’s post. GIVE UP!!! You have NO BUSINESS analyzing anything relating to success or failure unless perhaps you would like to analyze the complete and total failure of your blog to convince one single person that you know what you are talking about b

  52. I don’t care much for reality TV but find this show compelling. Judging by the way the blog writer is getting crushed in the comments, he clearly doesn’t focus much on honest critique as much as venting of the spleen. So be it – it’s his blog.

    But as i go thru the comments and even the episode lists, i was thinking: if i were a fairly successful bar owner – not kicking ass but not a trainwreck – i must be thinking “oh what i could do with a boost up like this”.

    Clearly Taffer is less concerned about any “success” rate because if he were, he’d pick businesses that have a chance to actually succeed.

    The big takeaways from the show (and the very informative comments) are that cleanliness is really next to godliness; stay out of this business if you do not know what you are doing; if you are an investor and hire an “expert”, listen to him/her; and You never know who your stud employees are until there is real stress.

  53. The Public House had the best burger in Cincinnati only two months ago and is doing very well, your information is truly screwed up.

  54. If the way a bar is run doesn’t change, then John didn’t rescue it. The show is called “Bar Rescue” not “Bar Decor Makeover”.
    On the other hand, I can scope out new locations requiring few renovations.

  55. OK, I have just ONE question. I have been drinking in, observing and admiring many, many bars over the last 30 years. I’d call it a hobby. I have been in most of the most famous bars in the world. Probably, far more than Jon has ever been in. As a supposed “expert in bar management” has ANYONE, EVER seen in a single episode where Jon has actually TASTED an alcoholic beverage? How about those who have worked at bars which he has “helped.” Other than the July 14, 2013 episode which I think I influenced via former comments to his producers, in which he did a supposed brief “straw test” on one drink.
    Who would trust a mechanic who did not drive? A chef who does not taste his own food? At least Robert Irvine taste-tests the food first at all prospective restaurants he helps. Jon NEVER does in my recollection. At best he sends in scouts to do it. I could be wrong, but after watching nearly every episode, and from my personal extensive experience with close bartender and ex-drinker friends Jon shows every sign of being a recovering alcoholic. How can a current teetotaler possibly KNOW what true drinkers go to a bar for?

  56. I can see why viewers with no bar ownership experience would see wisdom from Taffer. 50% of Bar Rescue is common sense. 40% is self aggrandizing chest puffing and 10% is egregious product placement.

    Bar Rescue isn’t about saving these bars. It’s about mocking the owners and employees for entertainment.

    Many of his gimmicks are either outright bad or contradictory to other gimmicks. For example, he will rail on and on about flow and movement through a space and then throw in a “butt funnel”.

    It works for Taffer because he has built in excuses as to why the bar failed anyway.

    If Taffer really wanted to demonstrate his competence, he would not pick bars days from failure but bars that are solvent, have competent employees and present working owners but are just “getting by” and take their sales up 25-30% permanently.

    It’s easy to take abject failure and point out all the flaws. It’s a hell of a lot harder to take average and make it excellent.

  57. This article is completely untrue. Look at reviews yourself – most of these bars that were ready to close within weeks are still around getting good reviews. Sounds like a great sucess to me.

  58. So many idiots with opinions. Why does Taffer or anyone else have to prove which successful bars he’s owned? Taffer has his own TV show, is supported by industry professionals and has the top bev/alcohol brands advertising on his show. Do you think anyone is going to risk their personal reputation or risk harm to their brand by associating with Taffer?

    I love the Internet, but hate the fact that it empowers so many Cliff Claven-like idiots to express their opinions where they would not be heard otherwise.

    Do you own a bar or even your own business? Do you have your own TV show? Of course you don’t; because you are an idiot? Now shut your pie hole and enjoy the show. Otherwise, get you fat lazy ass away from the TV, start your own successful bar or business, get your own TV show and show Taffer and the rest of us how it’s done you idiot!

  59. T.J. Quill’s in Nola was on the show, changed to “The Annex”. I’m pretty sure they’re shut down. I was talking to one of the bartenders and he told me how everything was staged. He was actually the guy who got fired on the show just for entertainment. He was back when they finished filming. They know the hidden cameras are in there, but don’t care so I guess that’s real. They installed late night food microwave/oven but that part never opened. It was disappointing they didn’t succeed, I was rooting for them (even though I had been there only twice). But yea, the bartender told me how staged everything was, made everyone turn on the same guy. I still like the show though

  60. Blue Frog’s Local 22 in Chicago is doing well and didn’t revert back to its own theme in the least. And I’d give Taffer more credit than you have given that only a few closed. Whatever your grading system is, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Seems to me that if most of these bars are open after two years, then Taffer did a great job. With how much money most of these places lose monthly, there’s no way they’d be able to remain open if business didn’t pick up.

  61. As someone who has no knowledge of or experience working in the bar business, I will not try to act like I know something that I don’t. I’ve read a lot of valid points regarding whether a bar is beyond saving already and if the show is just for that and and an ego thing. As such, I will simply pose two questions and my thoughts on each.

    First, what is the standard for determining whether a “rescue” is a success or not? According to the show, many of these places were within a couple of months of closing. Of the 18 listed in this post, 5 have closed. So in terms of at least doing enough to keep the bars open for now, I’d say the mission accomplished and call the success rate 13 out of 18. After all, you can’t get out of debt if you aren’t at least open.

    I would also question using Yelp reviews as the basis of determining the success (or lack thereof) for a particular place. Any place is going to have it’s detractors. As a whole, I think that people are resistant to change. So people who were regulars prior to the make overs might be likely to give a poor rating because they liked what was familiar, whereas newer clientele might like the changes. I cite the Piratz reviews I’ve read as an example. The “regulars” loved the pirate theme while to outsiders (myself) included don’t get it. So it becomes an issue for the owners of do you please the few regulars who aren’t making you money or do you change something to bring in more people and thus more money. To me the answer seems obvious.

    This leads me to my second queston. Where is the accountability of the owners to enact or carry out the changes long-term? Obviously no one can expect a miracle overnight or the debt to magically disappear in a few days and the goal isn’t to just remain open. However, I would question whether many of the owners have given the changes that Taffer made a fair chance to show any long-term results. I won’t go all cliche and recite the “definition” of insanity, but there is one indisputable fact about every bar Taffer “saves”. What they are currently doing is not working and SOMETHING needs to change.

    What I am going to say next is not feasible, but humor me for the sake of argument. Suppose that when doing the show and giving complete control to the Bar Rescue team, this locked in the owners to sticking with the changes for a set period of time before they could change anything back, let’s say 3 months or there would be some sort of “penalty”. Would we see better results? I don’t know. I’m just posing the question for thought. I offer this only because from what I have read, most of the owners have changed back to either the old names or some combination of the two, as well as to old habits. Many times it was within weeks of the makeover. and I would argue that this was not enough time to see if the new names/concepts would work. Again, like anyone, the owners probably don’t like change, but the fact remains you don’t end up hundreds of thousands in debt if what you are doing is working. Tell the owners that if they don’t enact the changes, they are on the hook for the cost of the renovations, maybe you’d see more of a change… but maybe not. I don’t know.

    The bottom line is I don’t think saying that John Taffer has a failing success rate with these makeovers is fair assessment of the man and what he knows. Is some of what he does on the show “over the top” and egotistical. Sure, but a lot of if is also valid, particularly concerning cleanliness and design of the bar/kitchen and service issues. Ultimately, the success comes down to the owners, and he says it on the show all the time, he has to change the people too. I think he gives them some knowledge and tools to be successful, and then it’s up to them to use those tools. Many of the owners even comment to that effect on the show. However, when it comes right down to it, It’s evident that most of the owners were just blowing smoke and are unwilling to change if they just go back to what they were previously doing…

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