Can The Bridge Lounge be Saved from Collapsing?


This year 6,500 failing bars nationwide will close their doors for good. If things don’t change soon, The Bridge Lounge in Tarpon Springs, Florida will become just another statistic. In 2003, the late Bill Cladakis had a vision of becoming a bar owner. So when The Bridge Lounge, a local fishermen’s bar, went up for sale Bill jumped at the chance of making his dream come true. Hook, line and sinker, Bill immediately saw success, and in 2007 he was ecstatic to learn that his only son, Manny, had left New York to help him run the bar. The bar did well for a while, grossing between $12,000 and $13,000 per month at one point. However, in 2010, the entire area was hit by a devastating blow – the BP oil spill – which led to the demise of the local sponge industry. Fishermen and deckhands lost their jobs and left the area, severely damaging The Bridge Lounge’s business. The family estimated that the bar lost 75% of its revenue and clientele. In April of 2015, Bill passed away and Manny was left to run the bar on his own. Manny brought his friend Gary on board to act as manager. The rest of the family doesn’t trust Gary and feel that he took advantage of Manny’s vulnerability after Bill’s passing. Now, with Manny at the helm struggling to his father’s legacy alive, his mother Harriet is left to cover the $4,000 a month losses with her retirement fund. So, Manny has agreed to pull back the doors, bust open the books, and make a call for help to Bar Rescue.

A major problem, according to Harriet, Anna and Crissy, is manager Gary. A friend of Manny’s, Gary claimed to have 14 years’ experience in management during a heated confrontation with Crissy. When pressed, however, he was unable to recall what years he worked as a manager. Jon confronted Gary by asking about the basics: costs and percentages. Again, Gary couldn’t provide any answers. Phil Wills discovered filthy beer taps, and when asked why they hadn’t been cleaned Gary claimed that the beer companies couldn’t gain access to the bar. During the stress test it was revealed that Gary also can’t make cocktails. About $15,000 of dead stock was discovered prior to the stress test, speaking to more of Gary’s lack of management experience. Simply put, Gary refused to be held accountable for any of his failings. He finally walked out and quit on Manny and the rest of the Cladakis family during the stress test.

The Bridge Lounge break-even - Spike TV's Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer

For recon, Jon sent Brody and Rose of 93.3 FLZ Radio into The Bridge Lounge, a 1,900-square-foot space grossing $28 per square foot in sales, $122 less than the required break-even point of $150 per square foot. The two spies have large social media reach and can bring their fans and followers into a venue they’re visiting if they like it. For the bar, Jon brings in Phil Wills, a master of balance and flair when crafting signature cocktails. Phil’s extensive training experience can identify a staff’s weaknesses and transform them into mixologists. In addition to Jon planning to leverage The Bridge Lounge’s cash and carry license, Phil created two cocktails aimed at reducing dead stock that was found during recon.

The Science

  • When a manager doesn’t know what they’re doing and buys product that won’t move, it’s called dead stock.
  • The long pour increases perceived value because it appears to guests that the bartender is pouring more than the standard amount of spirits.
  • 67% of tourists decide where to go for food and beverages based on the recommendation of locals.

The Relaunch

The Bridge Lounge relaunch - Spike TV's Bar Rescue with Jon Taffer

Jon chose to keep the name The Bridge Lounge but added “A Local’s Bar” to the sign. Six weeks after the relaunch, the bar has grossed $32,403 in beverage sales. Most of the dead stock has been sold.