It's Time to Pack Up and Return to Ireland

Packy's Pub on Bar Rescue


In 1986, Patrick “Packy” Campbell, immigrated to the states from Ireland and got involved in the bar business in order to live the American dream. Packy managed a popular bar in Milwaukee named Steny’s for 14 year and though that he had enough experience to open his own bar.

Wanting to test his luck, Packy opened his own bar; bringing along fellow Irishman Guppy. When Packy’s Pub first opened it was busy all the time and their success continued for the first six years – pulling in $20,000 a week. But in 2006, with the bar coasting, Packy put the bar on the back burner to focus on raising his family.

As Packy focused on his family, he left the staff to run themselves and the bar became a free for all. Now, Packy is $140,000 in debt and losing $9,000 a month. With only three months left before having to close his doors, Packy reaches out to Jon Taffer and the Bar Rescue team.

Packy's Pub becomes Campbell's Irish Pub on Bar Rescue


The outside signage doesn’t give the impression of the bar being an Irish Pub.  It could actually be mistaken for a packers sports bar. The lack of an Irish theme continues on the inside as well. In Ireland, Pubs are considered an extension you’re your living room; it’s a very warm and cozy environment. “An Irish bar without authenticity is like a sports bar without TVs,” commented Taffer.

One of the most important factors in an authentic Irish bar is the food and Packy’s doesn’t even have a stove. The only thing the bar serves is chicken wings and every time they come out dry with the sauce burnt onto it. The whole reason for going to an Irish bar is to have some food and stay for 2 or 3 hours.

In addition to the terrible unauthentic food, there are fruit flies in the cocktails. Instead of getting rid of the contaminated spirits the bartenders put them back behind the bar; putting customers at risk of getting sick. However, the biggest issue is the staff’s behavior and the absent management.

The staff is out of control! Guppy is taking 4 oz. shots behind the bar and mooning the customers. With the drunkest guy in the room behind the bar customers end up being over served through over-pouring and less product ends up being rung in correctly. Trust between an owner and his employees is of utmost importance and currently Packy’s has none. Bartenders are stealing from the bar and the owner isn’t paying the employees.

For the stress test, Packy’s - a 1,600 square foot space with a U-shaped bar, three speed wells and zero Irish identity – is packed and the staff quickly begins to fall apart. Its three deep at the bar and the bartenders are making one drink at a time. Food is being made in the kitchen and no one is coming to take it out. But worst of all is Packy. He’s getting in the way and not effectively managing the bar. Taffer has never seen anyone move more and accomplish less than Packy.


For the kitchen Taffer brings in renowned chef Gavan Murphy. This Irish chef is the ideal candidate to bring a traditional taste of Ireland to any Pub menu.

The new bar needs to be known for fresh homemade Irish food. In order for this to happen, new equipment is needs, fresh ingredients need to be incorporated and a new cook needs to take over.  Packy cannot effetely run his bar if he is constantly in the kitchen, therefore Colleen volunteers to take over.

Chef Murphy introduces new authentic dishes that incorporate Whiskey and Guinness. Cooking with alcohol brings out the flavor in food through molecular bonding with fat and water molecules. Flavor compounds and aromatics’ like garlic, herbs and other seasonings dissolve only in fat. Alcohol bonds with these compounds and helps carry them into the dishes; creating more flavor and aroma in the final product.

For the bar Taffer brings in Gerry Graham. With 17 years of experience as a bartender, this master of whiskey at Diageo is the perfect choice to bring authentic Irish drinks to any cocktail menu.

Gerry works with the bartending staff to increase their skill and make sure that they are responsibly pouring.  Currently, the staff is pouring 2 to 3 times the responsible amount.  Therefore, Gerry introduces the use of a jigger that properly measures out an ounce and a half of base spirit. The use of jiggers is responsible and profitable.    

With the staff training well underway, Taffer sits down with Packy to see if he really has it in him to focus being a manager and effective leader. To relight the fire in Packy, Taffer brings in his old boss, who he learned everything from, hoping he’ll be encourage to take hold of his destiny in order to succeed.

Now that Packy is truly inspired, renovations begin and the venue begins to take on its true authentic feel. One feature that every great Irish pub has is snugs.  Snugs are private little areas throughout the bar that provide intimacy and privacy. In a traditional bar the average spend per person is $18 dollars however that spend goes up to $21 when the bar is authentic. This is why Taffer and his team incorporated so many traditional Irish elements into the theme, food and drinks.

Packy's Pub becomes Campbell's Irish Pub on Bar Rescue


For the reluanch, Taffer envites an irish band and irish dancers to entertain the crowd adding to the overall theme and authenticity. Once the doors open the entire bar and the staff has been transformed.

Part of an opening is poduction and in the first 15 minutes the staff was able to serve the entire room. In the kitchen the POS system is working and the staff is more confident and comfortable. In the first hour the bar made $1,431.

When bars first open its caotic but this bar is already stable and feels like its been open for weeks. That’s the sign of Packy taking control, Guppy being a leader behind the bar, colleen staying cool and calm in the kitchen. Six weeks after the relaunch food and beveage sales are up 70%, Packy has hired additional help in the kitchen and Guppy is no longer drinking behind the bar.