Spike TV’s Bar Rescue premiered in 2011 and has become a bit of an obsession to anyone that has stumbled across it. The premise is simple enough: long time food and beverage industry consultant Jon Taffer does his best to transform failing trashy bars into slightly more successful trashy bars, all while dealing with less than cooperative owners of the establishments. Taffer claims he’s a student of “bar science” and that he can turn any business around.
Yet not all of the bars on Bar Rescue ultimately get saved.
So far to date in 3 seasons 60 bars have been ‘rescued’. Of those 60, 14 have closed and 13 had either changed the rebranded name back or altered it again. Going through every season of the hit Spike TV show, we’ve found Taffer’s failures. Not even the man with a Doctorate in what he calls “Bar Science”, the man who is “in the Nightclub Hall of Fame”, and the man who “invented NFL Sunday Ticket”, could save every bar. Here are his Bar Rescue Fails, the ones that Taffer couldn’t save.
In season one, Taffer visited and rescued ten bars. Two of those bars ended up closing, and one other is struggling.
Swanky Bubbles in Philadelphia was remade as Sheer Philly in season one. Within months of Swanky Bubbles getting “rescued” it was closed down. Actually they changed the name back to Swanky Bubbles almost immediately once Taffer was gone. Philly has lost its premier champagne bar and now they don’t know what to do with themselves.
Kilkenny’s Irish Pub in California was mismanaged straight to hell and Taffer did his best but couldn’t get it done. The pub got a whole new look, and a new name– Breakwall. But the mismanagement of the sisters who ran the place couldn’t be overcome. It didn’t help that from the look of the episode they both seemed to be sleeping with their bar manager. Taffer fixed the bar, but what he really needed to do here was fix the people.
On The Bubble for Season One: The Chicken Bone renamed The Bone in Framingham, MA remain open but struggling. They reduced their hours and closed for summertime, and word on the street is that The Framingham Health Department inspector ordered The Chicken Bone to toss all of its food and identified more than a dozen violations that posed an imminent health hazard.
Out of the 10 bars that ended up being featured on season two, four closed, and two others went back to their old lumpy selves.
Win, Place or Show in Fairfield Ohio got its name changed to the god awful “America Live!” and lasted 2 and a half months after that. Their landlord locked them out of the bar and a bunch of drama surrounded the bars closing and taping of Bar Rescue, with allegations that partners were selling off their pieces of the business before the show ever taped. Nevertheless, John Taffer should have realized no one would ever want to get drunk at someplace called “America Live!”.
Weber’s Place was a strip club turned music club in Reseda California that Taffer attempted to work his charms on. Taffer turned it into Weber’s Rum Bar and Grill. A year after he worked his magic, it was done. Taffer stopped the musical performances but if the Yelp reviews are to be believed, the bar went back to its old ways. It didn’t help that the owner let his staff steal from him, which no one can fix in three days time.
Mystique Lounge attracted a bad crowd in West Palm Beach Florida, which ended up turning into shootings outside the club. John Taffer came in to clean the place up and get the right clientele in there. He did not succeed. He had one night where bottle service wasn’t a train wreck but once he skipped town, the newly minted Aura Nightclub didn’t last much longer.
Taffer couldn’t do it again. Season two proved to be a tough one for him. This fourth bar, JA Murphy’s in Fells Point, Baltimore, went down just under a few months after its rescue. It seemed too little too late for the bar to succeed and the owners were forced to shut it down. Rumor has it that there was also structural damage to the site that simply couldn’t be fixed in 36 hours with a bunch of seemingly crystal meth fueled contractors. The newly renamed Murphy’s Law turned out to be yet another soulless bar created by Taffer down the tubes.
REVERTED! Two of the remaining season two bars went back to their original names after Taffer packed up and left town. Rocks went back to being Rocks after Power Plant didn’t feel right. About 24 hours afterTaffer’s team moved out, the newly named Corporate Bar & Grill went back to their old name- Piratz, and went back to the old concept as well. They even burned the corporate theme in effigy. Sounds like a big fat fail, John.
8 bars ended up closing and one was sold out of the 40 that were rescued in this marathon season, and another three went back to their old names.
Taffer dubbed Headhunters in Austin Texas the worst bar in America and it lived up to it with it being infested with roaches and employees who were literally paid nothing. He turned it into a Steampunk bar renamed Metal and Lace, for some reason because who doesn’t love Victorian era science fiction in Austin? The awful owner eventually closed the bar finally freeing his employees. They never really embraced their new name or gimmick. Steampunk died in Austin the day Headhunters went under.
The owners of Sand Dollar (renamed Bar 702) sold off the Las Vegas Nevada bar in May, 2014. This episode also got Taffer in trouble by generating a law suit against him and the show. They went after him for the way they were made to be seen on television with set up confrontations, making the bar seem worse than it was. Oh, Jon Taffer, will you ever learn?
Gipsy was another Vegas bar. Taffer re-envisioned it as SBLV but the bar didn’t even make it to the end credits of the show. The owner refused to show up on the opening night of the club and he never reopened the bar after Bar Rescue left. He gutted the place, and planned to renovate and re-open the bar but it never happened. The show portrayed him as a psychotic, abusive, drunk, gay, man. Was it true? Only his out of work bartenders know for sure.
Marley’s on the Beach was a failing bar on the water in Warwick Rhode Island that turned into a complete failure after Taffer decided to turn it into a Caribbean Tiki themed restaurant/bar named Michelle’s Beach Club. His reasoning? There wasn’t any Caribbean food in the neighborhood. That makes total sense. Especially since it shut down 2 months after Taffer was gone.
The genius bar owner behind the Rocky Point Cantina thought heavy metal would bring in the college kid crowd in Tempe Arizona. Sadly, it did not despite its new rhyme-y name, Havana Cabana. Taffers idea? Cuban food with Havana Cabana. What college student in Arizona doesn’t love classic Cuban cuisine. That did not sit well. On top of that the city hammered the establishment for not adhering to building codes with all the renovations.
Taffer’s bar science experiment at this Vegas haunt led him to think a cougar bar is just what that town needed. After 20 years in business, the Alibi Casino, reinvented as The Garnet Lounge died two months after Bar Rescue visited. Now where will the cougars get drunk and play video poker?
The South Park Bar & Grill in Montclair New Jersey was originally the pilot for Bar Rescue and was finally aired this past season. The bar, was a train wreck, with the town itself not wanting to give them their liquor license back after they lost it. Guess The V Bar never had a chance. They got busted for illegal drug use on the premises among other things. The best thing Taffer could have done was wipe this place out with a bulldozer.
This episode is best known for the insane, drunk, over compensating bar manager of a bar named Cashmere, who got hammered constantly and kept screaming his catch phrase “all in”. The Raleigh North Carolina bar got renamed Dual Ultra Nightclub and ended up closing in May, 2014. They blamed Taffer for not understanding the demo of the town they were in, which they say put the nail in their coffin. Listen, Taffer knows bar science, these people knew how to run a business into the ground. Who would you blame?
NAME DROPS: TJ Quills was given the exciting new name The Annex, but reverted right back to TJ Quills. The Brixton got a makeover to become Rocket Room 6 in Austin Texas, and is a success story but they did drop the Rocket Room silliness in favor of their original name. Same story for Denver bar, Zanzibar, who were happy with their makeover, but not the new name, Solids and Stripes.
An all new Season Four is already underway on SPIKE TV. New episodes air every Sunday at 9 pm et. Go to SPIKETV.com for more information.