When it comes to reality programming, people don’t often think of Spike’s, and later Paramount Network’s, Bar Rescue. Despite this, the show has been going strong for seven seasons and over 200 episodes.
The show began airing on Spike on July 17, 2011 and completed its eighth season in August 2021. Yet despite the ever-growing roster of bars in need of repair, the story behind Bar Rescue may prove just as interesting as the personalities and stories it presents. There’s a lot of good stuff going on behind the scenes and behind Jon Taffer’s funny quotes.
Updated on February 25th, 2022, by Lynn Gibbs: In 2011, restauranteur Jon Taffer was the face of Bar Rescue — a show that gave restaurant and bar owners all the tools to turn their business around for the better. Taffer’s blunt delivery can be problematic with business owners but it made great TV. At the end of the episode, viewers couldn’t wait to see which establishment turned into a Bar Rescue failure or a Bar Rescue success. The Bar Rescue success rate along with some tidbits about Jon Taffer help make this one of the most entertaining reality shows on TV.
The Bars Have Rules To Follow
Like many reality TV shows, Bar Rescue also has rules the TV stars have to follow. To make the show more entertaining, one bar owner, Ryan Burks, said that the producers told him to lie about the amount of debt he had and that he was about to lose his home, according to Mashed.
All owners and workers also have to film for five full days and have to obey all staff shown on the show — not just Taffer.
Who Pays For The Renovations Anyway?
Shows like Top Chef Masters are loved because they showcase the renowned chefs and their restaurants and where to find them. However, Bar Rescue does the same thing with bars or restaurants that are down on their luck and need an upgrade.
Taffer and his team go into each bar and completely remodel it, giving it new lighting, glassware, hardware — the works. But who pays for it all? According to Reality TV Updates, Taffer and his sponsors pay for the entire renovation. After that, “The TV network covers many of the high-level costs. Then, individual sponsors cover the cost of specific products in exchange for exposure on the show.” This way, the owners only need to focus on keeping the establishment open.
Does Taffer Make Money From The Bars That Succeed?
Some of the drinks and food shown at some of these bars are some of the worst-looking on TV. From cheap ingredients to overpouring, it’s obvious why Jon Taffer rolls up to these establishments.
After all of the show’s hard work, Taffer shakes hands with the owner, wishes them well, and walks away. But he doesn’t wash his hands of said bars completely. According to Distractify, “And as Jon gets equity in each bar he helps remodel, in addition to his fees for appearing, consulting, and being the face of the show, he’s extra motivated to make sure each one succeeds.” If the bars don’t succeed, neither does he.
Jon Taffer Created NFL Sunday Ticket
While Jon Taffer is largely known as the hot-headed host of Bar Rescue, he is also a successful entrepreneur that created the concept of NFL Sunday Ticket, according to Bro Bible. Launched on November 27, 1994, NFL Sunday Ticket served as a way to broadcast out-of-market games to local affiliates.
It was largely aimed at people who were fans of a specific team but couldn’t watch their games owing to designated market areas. While this doesn’t relate to restaurant owners, Taffer could be the reason behind the games shown on TV in their restaurants.
Taffer Had 30 Years Experience
If anyone can help a failing restaurant or bar owner, it’s Jon Taffer. Taffer had 30 years of experience in the restaurant business before Bar Rescue premiered in 2011.
Mashed noted that Taffer got his first bartending job in 1973 when he was just 19 years old. In 1978, he became the manager of a West Hollywood nightclub called The Troubadour. He finally opened his own bar in 1989 at the age of 35 and the rest was history.
Taffer Is In The Nightclub Hall Of Fame
Following years of managerial duties and owning his own bars, Taffer was appointed as president of the Nightclub and Bar Media Group in 2010. It was then that he was inducted into the Nightclub Hall of Fame. Of all the nightclub scenes shown in movies and TV, Taffer’s reality show and expertise exceed those scenes.
Because of this, there was no better man to lead Bar Rescue. The following year he was hired by the producers of Bar Rescue, and the rest is history.
The Series Was Originally Produced By A Dutch Company
According to Deadline, back in the early 2010s Bar Rescue was created by the Dutch production company Eyeworks. Eyeworks is based out of Amsterdam and serves as a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Television Group.
Eyeworks shopped the program around to various networks, and it was eventually picked up by Spike TV in 2011. Spike ordered 10 episodes of the show, and it began shooting in April of 2011. From there came some of the funniest (and worst) bars seen on reality TV.
Half The Bars Have Failed
Owing to its nature as a “rescue” show, Bar Rescue visits many different bars on the verge of total collapse. Unfortunately, many of these bars are simply too far gone. It’s normal for viewers to wonder where some of the Bar Rescue bars are now, but some don’t have a great outcome.
While Taffer and his crew do all they can to save the bars from collapsing, nearly half had gone under by season six. It is believed that 89 of the first 201 bars featured on the show have since failed and closed their doors, giving Bar Rescue a success rate of just 56% (according to Reality TV Updates)
Bars Sign An Application
Some reality shows in this vein seek out failing establishments. Others require the establishments to come to them. Bar Rescue is of the latter. To be considered for the show, Mashed noted that bar owners must sign an application form and submit it to the Paramount Network for consideration.
Should they be deemed acceptable for TV, Paramount puts them on the list. Following that, Taffer visits with his team of experts, and some of the best episodes of Bar Rescue are created.
The Show Was Subjected To A Lawsuit
Jon Taffer and the reality TV producers were once sued by Paul Wilkes of Bar 702, according to Courthouse News. Wilkes states that the producers told him to hit on Jon’s wife Nicole, leading to a violent and physical confrontation.
Wilkes claims that the confrontation caused him night terrors, migraines, depression, and anxiety attacks. The lawsuit eventually settled in arbitration, and the case was dismissed with prejudice.
Some Bars Have Reverted
Even if Taffer successfully converts a bar, human tenacity and stubbornness tend to get in the way. Unfortunately, some bars had reverted to their pre-Bar Rescue selves, resulting in collapse.
For example, Reality TV Revisited noted that Swanky Bubbles (among many, many others) reverted to their original name, Piratz Tavern, returned to their much-maligned pirate theme. and The Chicken Bone reverted to its old menu.
The Rocky Point Was Not Up To Code
One of the places visited by Taffer and his gang was Tempe, Arizona’s The Rocky Point Cantina. Unfortunately, this bar was closed following a re-painting. The bar’s decision-makers had decided to re-paint the interior, which in turn, triggered a code inspection. The bar didn’t have the most disgusting things Taffer found, it was just not up to code.
This inspection uncovered years’ worth of unacknowledged and non-permitted building renovations. Rather than bringing the building up to code, The Gazette Review said the owners decided to close.
One Bar Was The Site Of A Murder
In 2013, Taffer and his team filmed at a bar in Nashville, Tennessee, which was eventually renamed Pit & Barrel. The bar was owned by one Chris Ferrell.
However, on the night before the respective episode was going to air, Saving Country Music wrote that Ferrell shot and killed country singer Wayne Mills inside the Pit & Barrel – an act Ferrell claims was in self-defense. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years.
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