Taffer's Top 10 Toughest Bar RescuesJune 30, 2014 By: Kristen Santoro
Jon Taffer has traveled the country and devoted his life to saving failing bars on the brink of disaster. Over the past three season of Bar Rescue, Taffer and his team have bailed out more than 60 bars. Some of those rescues pushed Taffer to his limit so much that he didn’t think that he would make to the other side.
Taffer has bailed out businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, battled obstinate owners and fixed a bar so damaged that the bar nearly collapsed right out from under their feet. These are the moments that tested everything Taffer knows.
Now, Taffer counts down the Top 10 Toughest Bar Rescues he has ever faced.
10. Kid Chilleen’s Bad Ass BBQ Steakhouse in Black Canyon, Arizona – This bar was run by a family that valued parting over profit. They were 25 days away from losing their property and falling into bankruptcy. Taffer’s main priority was getting owners Scott and Donna sober. Escaping through liquor was not going to solve their problem. Once Taffer got Donna and Scott sober he took a sloppy joint and turned it into a local standout. Not only did they completely avoid bankruptcy but their business is thriving and their profits are up 85%.
9. RG’s Lounge in Independence Missouri – This rescue involved twins that hated each other even though they lived right across the street from one another. Their feud got so ugly they couldn’t manage their business and allowed their patrons to be over served. Taffer didn’t think that he would ever get through to them. Getting despiteful twins to see eye to eye after years of not talking makes RG’s Lounge number 9. Now, Rick and Randy are tighter than ever, in fact they recently spent the holidays together for the first time in six years.
8. The Chicken Bone in Framingham, Massachusetts – When Taffer arrived at this bar he discovered Bill was doing $2 million dollars in sales but the business was still losing money. He has lost his house and was living in a tiny apartment with his family and his future was totally gone. But he was so thick headed that Taffer had to fight with him every step of the way to fix his books and rescue his bar.
7. Characters Quarter in Garner, North Carolina – This bar was run by a guy who created a hostile work environment with his sister. Taffer believe this episode should have been called family rescue because that’s what it was about. Teaching a fiery guy to nurture his sister instead of tearing her down all the time was a momentous task. In the end they were able to embrace each other and now Moonrunners is a homerun! Last year they did over a $1 million in sales. If they continue to perform like that the family is planning on opening a second location.
6. Dimples in Burbank, California –This bar was distinguished as the first karaoke bar in America. Despite his historic notoriety, the owner Sal was offensive, a hoarder and always wanted to have his own way. Having to grapple with Sal and his offensive cranky ways put this bar on the list. Taffer took Dimples from a tarnished irrelevant antique to a modern karaoke mecca. Sadly since the recue Sal brought all of his old junk back into the bar.
5. The Tailgate in Saugus, California – When Taffer’s dealing with a family, rescues are always tougher. It adds a layer of drama and difficulty. Close personal connections kept owner Diane for firing an inept cook Robert because he was a relative. Teaching the Millers that in business family doesn’t necessarily come first was a challenging job. Once Diane raised her standards with her employees, Taffer took The Tailgate from a rundown sports bar to a sophisticated shot exchange. The family went from losing $4,000 a month to making $3,000 a night.
4. Turtle Bay in New Orleans, Louisiana – This owner was so obsessed with beating a competitor across the street he didn’t focus on making his own money. The owners completely copied the competitors drink and copies always underperform the original. Creating a concept that stands out on the most competitive nightlife street in America while contending with owner, Brad (mister hardhead), was a nightmare. Turtle Bay was transformed into Spirits on Bourbon and is one of Bar Rescues greatest success stories with sales $1 million ahead of last year.
3. Cashmere in Raleigh, North Carolina – At this bar the owner hired an old friend to manage the bar but even when the attention starved James acted like a complete idiot owner, Brandon, still refused to fire him. Overcoming a toxic loyalty between old friends was a serious challenge. Finally, once James was out of the picture Taffer was able to take Cashmere from a lackluster club to a hub for dueling DJs and dancing.
2. J.A. Murphy’s in Fells Point, Maryland – This bar was in a bad place because the two boneheaded owners treated their bar like a keg party. Taffer thought that getting these two owners to grow up would be the hard part but the bars problems were even deeper than he ever expected. Overcoming a series of serious structural issues made this rescue extremely dangerous. The bars structural problems were so severe the remodel was postponed for 10 days and they spent tens of thousands of dollars on repairs before the bar could become Murphy’s Law. One thing owners Keith and Joel learned from Bar Rescue was that they shouldn’t be in the bar business. After Taffer left they sold the bar, paid off their debt and now the space is occupied by a Mexican restaurant.
1. Bungalow Bar in Rockaway Beach, NY – It’s hard enough to remodel an existing space but having one week to completely rebuild a bar after it was devastated by 105 mile an hour winds and 35 foot waves during Hurricane Sandy was a grueling task. Not only was the bar completely destroyed, Taffer couldn’t get the brothers to agree on anything. Aside from the family infighting, Taffer and his team also had a major weather setback to contend with. Twenty-two hours away from Memorial Day weekend and $250,000 in debt, Taffer didn’t believe that he would be able to deliver. This rescue was all about the tenacity of the human spirit. They took a devastated bar and turned it into a symbol of hope that a broken community could rally around. The Bungalow Bar is Taffer’s proudest rescue to date and the brothers are thriving. Prior to Hurricane Sandy the bar was making $400,000 a summer. The summer following the relaunch they made more than $800,000.
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