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My wife and I love Bar Rescue! John Taffer is really intriguing to
watch work, and his interactions with the bar managers and staff range
from cringe-worthy to hilarious to touching.
It's really cool to get some behind-the-scenes looks at why certain things in successful bars work too (such as menu placement, seating, and drink specials).
The show does seem a tad contrived at times, but doesn't every reality TV show?
Bottom line: Bar Rescue is awesome, check it out! I can think of several local bars near me that are in desperate need of a "rescue" by John and his team.
This is a very interesting look at the competitive bar and restaurant
business. Host Taffer pulls no punches with his incredibly blunt
assessments which can make viewers cringe at times, but creates a lot
of interesting reactions from the owners, managers and employees being
berated. He never fails to blurt out, "this is the worst I've ever
seen" about something in the business he's trying to turn around.
Although a lot of the show is scripted and contrived, it still pulls you in and keeps you watching. You may have a hard time eating out after seeing the deplorable condition of some of the kitchens. The only suggestion I would make is that they provide more detailed numbers as far as revenues and profits in all of the episodes. There is some of this, but it didn't occur in all the episodes I observed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first heard of this TV series watching World's Wildest Police Videos on Spike TV. Then, I watched this show. Here's the premise: Jon Taffer is a night-life expert who helps failing bars and restaurants on the brink of going broke. Some bars are willing to accept Jon Taffer's help but some will never, ever listen. I think the bar that's unlikely to listen is the Piratz Tavern. Heck, I've heard on the Yelp reviews that Piratz Tavern has crappy food and poor service(Too bad I never found the review Jon Taffer read on the Piratz Tavern episode). Well, I guess they'll never survive the Modern Corporate World of Silver Spring, Maryland. But anyway, I think this is a good show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Love seeing how they expose why certain bars fail while others succeed.
Everything John says is pretty much spot on. I watched a marathon of it today and couldn't stop watching due to the fact that it just sucked me into it. I wanted to know what new disaster would happen and who was gonna step up to fix it.
If you love shows where you see the bad side of restaurants and bars, then this is the show for you. This show will change your opinion on what good bar service should be. I love that they bring in world class chefs and mixologist to actually bring everything up to par at the bars.
One of the biggest and most shocking aspects to me was just showing how filthy a lot of these places were.
I can't wait for season two and dealing with the Pirate bar and Tiki bar. Both appear to be train wrecks awaiting to happen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This show on Spike is one of those shows that I will gladly watch reruns. Jon Taffer is an expert in the field and he consistently brings in the best experts for the bar/restaurant. I always love how hard Taffer goes down on the owners like a drill sergeant in the Marines. A lot of reviews stay that 90% of this show is staged, but I would change that number to about 20%. If you watch to the end of the credits, they list all the places that provided equipment/supplies for the remodel of the bar. The producers pay for the cost, almost like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". There is a lot of time compression, but what reality show does not have this? Overall, this show is an excellent one and I love watching it whenever it is on.
The shows' host is highlighted with his love and passion of the business of people. Jon, one of a select few in the nightclub hall of fame is the band leader of the whole show. When watching this masterfully produced show you feel like your on the inside of the bar business with the way jon helps the audience in understanding every angle of the biz and dare I say it life. With the help of Jon's well trained on point experts jon tears through all of the imprefections of every establishment he visits, while leaving his personal touch. Most of the bars he visits are in much needed repair of both aesthetics as well as a big overhaul of how the staff thinks and acts toward their customers, Jon often says he's not in the bar business he's in the people business. Often he is tasked with rebuilding the actual foundation of the establishment itself bringing in one of his many experts. Bringing in just one expert is often not enough for jon and the job that has put before Jon. Jon has an expert for any need, if the sign package is sub-par or the food package is inadequate he has you covered. Most of the bars he rescues don't have a 2TOUCH POS system in place a making the everyday operations of the bar hard to handle, so jon is happy to provide that system relieving most of the communication break downs associated with not having 2TOUCH POS in place. For the Kitchen I perferre Chef Duff with his no guff attitude when it comes to quality of the product and overall satisfaction of anything he gives to his customers. As far as his club management my favorite device he uses is the "Butt Funnel" enough said. Mostly while watching my favorite show I'm in total awe of Jons' dedication to his Beautiful wife and Gorgeous Daughter b/c in the end he is a family man. Above all else he has everyone take care of their personal affairs, Jon losing his first marriage to a business he ran with his first wife.All of My MONEY is in Jons unrelenting loyalty to his fans, not allowing spike to manipulate the shows format or prduction style having at least 40 episodes a year. In the end i would like to say god bless jon taffer and god bless America!! I'm currently fighting for a Taff/Duff ballot in the next election.
I love watching Taffer and his "professionals" turn a bar around to be successful but I really find it hard to take when the do their "stress test" by letting in 100-200 people and then complain when the wait times are more than 20 minutes. What the heck do they expect? If you give the average drink order 3 minutes from the time that a patron at a table orders until the receive their drinks then it is going to take 20-30 minutes to get all of them served. I agree that things like name changes are though of in advance. Permits for things like electrical, plumbing, and structural don't happen that fast. One last thing, how does Jon expect to gain the owner's respect when he yells at them in front of bar patrons.
Ever since I discovered Bar Rescue on Spike I watch it every time I can. John Taffer can be a hard headed S.O.B. but in the business of bar owning and operating you got to be damn near a General leading his troops into war against other Bars, Clubs, Pubs and All Night Spots. I used to work for a pub called Jenro's Classic Pub back in the mid to late 1990's. The owner boss and friend of mine Mike Lambaiso had the right idea but failed in a lot of other areas. What he got right was catering to the neighborhood the Pub was located in. A combination of Blue Collar, Armed Forces, and once in a great long while a few White Collar Corporate Types but not that many. Where he failed was not upgrading equipment and also not targeting younger hipper people with money. I worked every corner of the building. Bouncer, Barback, Doorman, Floater, House DJ, Kitchen Helper, Kitchen Cook when there was no cook, and Waiter if need be. Last position I held was outdoor Patio Bartender. I wish Bar Rescue had been around in 99 when the bar failed and was limping weakly towards 2000 when the name changed to Jenro's 2000. FAIL !!!! We had been booking bands and their friends and fans got too rowdy and out of control to the point of bar room brawl with bloodshed. I was the man who had the duty of calling 911 more than once and cleaned all the blood off the dance floor. We also had thieving Manager named Linda who was robbing the owner and customers blind deliberately. She finally quit when in August 99 she and the owner Mike had to work together behind the main bar. Talk about 2 Raging Bulls in a pin and he caught her more than once stealing from customers change and shoving it in her purse. She did her count out after work and left on an "F U Mike". Afterwards in September through October people she chased off started coming back but it was too little too late and Mike sold out in November 99 and Jenro's was history.
I always find it fascinating to watch how professionals work. Training
often hapless and uncooperative staff though requires a special kind of
devotion to the profession and Jon Taffer genuinely seems to care
deeply. Bar Rescue gives him an opportunity to demonstrate the breadth
of knowledge and experience needed to turn a failed bar into a success.
Unlike some other similar shows, Taffer freely brings in whatever
specialists he thinks are required so the show is not the clash of
single egos. He is though a bulldozer - anyone required to but refusing
to move gets an increasing verbal battering until they either do so or
get broken up. I know nothing about this particular field but never saw
him make a change that neither seemed necessary or a quite inspired
improvement. Staff who thieve are caught out, called out then thrown
out. Misbehaving drunken staff (or more often, the owner) are given a
chance to sober up and change their ways. Remaining staff including
owners are observed and persuaded to move to duties best suited to
them. An interesting feature is the way he deals with conflict between
individuals - not usually trying to completely resolve it early on when
morale is low and frustration high. Leaving it until after staff are
trained when their respective talents and weaknesses are revealed,
makes it clearer who is best suited to be doing what - including
husband and wife owners. Taffer understands how painful decisions can
sometimes be - getting rid of a thief thought to be a friend, changing
a historic bar name. Even though all the bars are in increasing debt
and in the last chance saloon, so to speak, it is surprising how
obstinate some owners can be and reluctant to make necessary changes.
Taffer has a broad armoury and produces it as required - loud
humiliating public dressing-downs to quietly bringing in a young
owner's mother who had bankrolled the bar with her pension as reminder
that success can also be a responsibility to others. Given that the
bottom line - profit - is always the bottom line, this is revealed to
be not as heartless as it might sound - the payback of job satisfaction
- doing a job really well instead of really badly, cooperating with
others rather fighting with them, and seeing the effect on customer
numbers and appreciation.
The series is in fact broader than than just bars, it applies also to service industries particularly tourism. Bars however offer a particularly great freedom of choice - of themes, styles, decor, ambiance, costume - and of course drinks. But with greater choice comes greater possibilities for failure even disaster.
I have mixed feelings about Bar Rescue.
On the one hand, the typical "Reality" TV formula and attendant drama gets old fast. If you watch Bar Rescue more than once, you learn the formula: a clueless bar owner + Jon Taffer blowing a gasket + a big show down between Taffer and the owner + a disastrous "stress test" + redemption, training, makeover = happy ending.
Personally, I could do without the yelling, screaming, crying, fighting and the needlessly- tight (usually five day) turnaround to "rescue" the bar.
On the other hand, when Mr. Taffer gets in to the analysis of why some bars work and many fail the show becomes very interesting. Learning facts like that a bar that alienates women will likely fail, and that bartenders over-pouring due to a lack of training - or as an effort to boost their tips at the expense of the establishment's inventory- are the kind of insights that make the program watchable.
Taffer's ultimate point is that running a bar is not a good-time job or excuse to party. It is a business and like any small business, if an owner wants to be successful at it he or she has to be ready to effectively deal with the necessary inventory, personnel, budget, compliance and marketing responsibilities.
A challenge Bar Rescue has to contend with is that viewers can easily see for themselves how the rescued bar does after the show's filming.
By the time an episode airs the renovated bar has had a few months to operate under the new recommended fixes. A quick Yelp search usually undermines the rosy ending. In many cases the bar still fails, or reverts to its old habits. The reviews sometimes reveal that the rapid 36-hour renovations done for dramatic effect and production schedules are pretty slap-dash on closer inspection, or that the changes to the bar made by the show were not in compliance with local law.
I actually think Bar Rescue could spruce itself up if it was a more professional, measured presentation that took more time than just five days to really work with transforming a bar. The formulaic theatrics and shouting, coupled with the slapdash renovation and the uncomfortable sense that a lot of the fixes really won't stick detracts from what could be a really interesting program about how to run a successful bar.
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