Haling from a long line of restaurateurs Scott Chilleen and his wife Donna took on their family business in 2003 when they bought Kid Chilleen's Bad Ass BBQ.
But after four years in the black Scott and Donna starting reveling in their small success as they went from serving drinks to throwing them back, while their daughter Aleah was forced to wrangle the bar.
As their profits road off into the sunset Scott and Donna fell further off the wagon. Putting the wild in a Wild West bar.
Black Canyon City, AZ lies 46 miles North of Phoenix and is home to only 3,018 people with the media age of 47. Its residents average only $19,000 per year in individual income, $30,000 less than the national average. 83% of business comes from I-17 a one hundred and forty five mile high way connecting Phoenix to Flagstaff and 55,000 cars travel this stretch of road each day so travelers are often looking for a quick stop to eat, rest and refuel.
Kid Chilleen's is a 3,000 square foot space featuring a full service bar with two speed rails and two beer taps. On the north side of the building lies a 12-table dining room adjacent to a large kitchen. The outside decor has zero attraction to the 55,000 cars that travel daily on I-17. The poor signage from the highway and lack of lighting on the building makes it impossible to know that this place is open for business. While driving down a dark dirt road to get to the restaurant, surrounded by abandoned properties reassures an unknown guest this place is closed.
The major contributing factors to the failing business come directly from upper management. During the recon owners and staff have as many as sixteen drinks during the evening. Leaving Daughter Aleah along to manage the restaurant's additional staff while taking care of customers.
The kitchen brings additional problems. For a restaurant that is claiming to be "bad ass BBQ" there was nothing badass about it. The cook put no effort into preparing the meals before guests arrive. Dunking grilled unseasoned chicken into a container of BBQ sauce, giving no flavor to the chicken besides the sauce. Multiple times throughout any given evening, food is being sent back to the kitchen. This results in a loss of profit for the kitchen and the owners’ way of solving this problem is buying shots for guests. This is an inaccurate way to manage unhappy guests considering most of Kid Chilleen's guests are traveling through to a further destination. The owners should be adamant in not sending drivers back to their vehicles intoxicated.
In addition to the challenges above, Kid Chillen's is a very large property with additional seating in the rare and a large back patio used for bands. The struggle Jon Taffer and team came across when planning the redesign was something that Arizona never usually sees, rain. Throughout the five days of shooting in Black Canyon City, the temperatures were at a record low. Most of the rain fell on Saturday during production with a record breaking 1.18' making it one of the wettest January days on record. This eliminated any extravagant plans on improving the outside decor.
In order to save the bar before the bank takes it over renowned bar consultant Jon Taffer comes in to save this families business. For the bar Jon has brought in 10 years Mixologist Russell Davis, Nightclub & Bar's 2012 Bartender of the Year. Russell begins by checking the sanitation behind the bar. Pulling out a handful of bacteria in the ice bin, Taffer and Davis enforce strict rules of cleaning behind the bar every night.
In addition to the bar, Taffer brings in JB Brown an award winning BBQ Chef, head of the Nevada Chefs' Association and 2012 Chef of the Year Nominee. His culinary experience will help him lasso these loose cooks.
Once cleaning the kitchen and bar concludes, Chef JB Brown goes right into teaching the cooks real BBQ. Teaching the cooks, that a rub will infuse the juices from the proteins you're cooking. A rub is a blend of salt, spices and sugar that coats the meat allowing new flavors to develop while cooking and elevate the BBQ.
Behind the bar Davis teaches the bartenders simple techniques to have balanced cocktails and not over pour.
After training Taffer has a surprise for Scott and Donna based on their promise to no longer drink. Taffer brings out the first ever Breathalyzer used on Bar Rescue. Since a bankruptcy court is taking away the bar in 25 days, Taffer wants to make sure he is working with two sober owners, if they fail Taffer leaves. Since Scott and Donna both blow a zero on the Breathalyzer, Taffer continues working. The most important part about owning a bar is making sure the owners and staff are sober.
Taffer wants to create a great place that the locals can drink and hang out but the tourist will stop for dinner. Since Kid Chilleen’s is a BBQ restaurant, Taffer wants to change the way they look at BBQ. 90% of the BBQ restaurants in America don't sell BBQ. Baking chicken and dipping it in BBQ sauces is a method that Kid Chilleen's has been doing for 10 years. By bringing in Chef JB Brown and providing Kid Chilleen's with a
Cook Shake SM160 Smoker allows Chilleen’s to produce true barbecue food in a slow smoked real barbecue.
The concept of smoking is low and slow. Burning different woods that burn off different smoke. During smoking sugars in the wood caramelize giving off sweet, flowery or fruity aromas, which penetrate the muscle fibers of the meat to add flavor. Woods with more sugar like fruit or pecan are used on lighter meats like chicken or fish. While tougher meat like beef or pork require hard woods that burn hotter like mesquite or hickory to penetrate the harder denser muscle fibers.
Chef JB Brown puts in a plan to simplify the menu down to Southwestern Brisket, Smoked Chicken and St. Louis Style Ribs. Making the mark of a great barbecue house.
And at the bar, Davis creates a spin on old cowboy whiskey classics that goes against barbecue perfectly. Brining moonshine to Kid Chilleen's signature drinks as well as a non-alcoholic drink, which caters to the tourists making long trips.
Taffer meets with Scott and Donna outside of the bar to introduce them to an addiction counselor. Since alcohol has been getting in the way of Scott and Donna's success, Taffer feels the main key to their success is their sobriety.
Taffer keeps the family name and brand while giving it a destination and Kid Chilleen's Bad Ass BBQ becomes Chilleen's on 17. Signage placed two miles down each side of I-17 allows tourists to think about making a stop during travel. In addition, a large brightly lite newly designed sign makes the location visible from the highway.
A major challenge before was the dark dirt road leading up to the bar, which Taffer and Team transformed over to all new lighting making people feel welcomed and comfortable.
Inside the feeling of a real BBQ restaurant blows the staff away. The decor has cowhide, branding and new lighting to create a warm clean country feel to it. The bar has been refinished, put a cowboy quote across the top and a nice potbelly stove to finish out the theme. For a Bar Rescue first, Taffer provides a pouring system for moonshine. Allowing bartenders to accurately pour for Chillen’s signature drinks.
Two months after re-launch, sales have increased by more than 30% and Scott and Donna’s Bankruptcy court decision is still pending. No horses or motorcycles have been inside the bar.