Television shows can be a great way to become educated on a topic of interest, but they also can be a good outlet to watch other people’s problems. When people decide to be filmed for a television show, their private lives and woes are out there for the world to see, and that’s exactly what can be seen in Spike TV’s Bar Rescue. Jon Taffer made a name for himself in the food and nightclub industry and has done very well for himself. He knows the ins and outs of the business, so it makes sense that he would be the guy that comes into these establishments and critiques them in the best and the worst way possible. He’s harsh, forthcoming, and genuine, but, above all, he’s hilarious.
While Bar Rescue has shone a light on some genuinely interesting people and some hilarious circumstances, it’s also played up some very unfortunate situations. While fun-loving bar patrons and happy-go-lucky owners can make for great television, so can mismanaged establishments that would have been fit to appear on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Updated on April 11th, 2022, by Tanner Fox: Owning a business is no laughing matter, as some owners featured on Bar Rescue have come to realize. Not only is it a financially risky endeavor, but building and operating a successful business requires entrepreneurial skill and a discerning mind capable of making uncomfortable decisions. That said, almost no one featured on Bar Rescue meets that criteria. From amateurs way in over their heads to haggard old hands more eager to pick a fight than to serve a customer, Taffer and company have been privy to some pretty atrocious—and hilarious—situations over the show’s decade-plus history.
Yo-Ho-Ho And A Bottle Of Dumb (Season 2, Episode 1)
This is one of the best episodes to date in the minds of some fans because it involves a pirate-themed bar. Approaching this one must’ve been comical for Jon, as the people that worked there took it seriously; from their uniforms to their mannerisms, they were totally committed to the bit. Unfortunately, the whole idea obviously wasn’t doing well, hence the reason Jon Taffer was there in the first place.
He tried to turn it into a more modern, “bro bar” named Corporate, but, in the end, that didn’t go over too well with the staff and the owners. In fact, one of the staff members ended up quitting because “he couldn’t talk like a pirate” anymore, and the owners eventually reverted back to the pirate-themed bar. It closed for good a short time later.
Back To The Bar: The Power of Bacon and Beer (Season 6, Episode 13)
This jazz bar had been in business for over 20 years in Chicago, so some would say it has a pretty good track record. But, once it moved to a different neighborhood, everything changed. The owner was a free spirit that was known for her unique piano jazz, complete with a squealing chorus, which she performed four nights a week.
She was also vegan, so it was confusing when bacon was introduced on the new menu. It re-opened as a craft-cocktail joint that blended in with the masses, and the owner wasn’t happy. She eventually asked Jon if he dyes his hair while coloring on a placemat like a child, and she later used sign language to say some adult-rated words about Jon to her child.
Don’t Mess With Taffer’s Wife (Season 3, Episode 11)
Once a famous Vegas blues bar, Sand Bar was an establishment that had fans such as Etta James before closing in the 1970s. Thanks to a passionate OBGYN, this bar got a second chance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t doing well, and that’s where Jon came in. He transformed the bar into a place where patrons could get beer-inspired cocktails and named it after the New Mexico zip code.
This all seemed fairly normal until the bar owner started being creepy around Jon’s wife. He compared her arm to another more private part of her body, and Jon got wind of it and flipped out on the OBGYN. Obviously, this one didn’t end on a particularly high note.
Flying Ants And A Giggly Owner (Season 4, Episode 57)
Tonic Lounge was a typical dive bar, but with questionable punk rock music that was often live. The first time Jon stepped through the door, he was met with an empty room and flying ants. Jon decided a better sound system, a new name, and a new menu would do the trick, but he couldn’t get past the odd owner.
The owner kept giggling as if he was high on a substance, and Jon was having none of it. By the looks of it, he could have given Hell’s Kitchen’s Gordon Ramsay a run for his money.
Raccoons And A Tacky Smoking Jacket (Season 3, Episode 32)
Originally a private smoker’s club above a bingo hall in a VFW, the first task of business was getting the pesky rodents and critters out of the ceiling. Since there was no way around the smokey room, Jon took it upon himself to go with that vibe and stamped a speakeasy theme on it instead.
As if there wasn’t a lot going on already, the one pool table was being used as a buffet table, and, later on, in the episode, an actual raccoon ran across the bar and relieved himself. Reality television is known for being staged, and this almost seems too ridiculous to believe. Then again, when dealing with failing bars, just about anything can happen.
John And Bert Bought A Bar (Season 6, Episode 40)
Season 6 of Bar Rescue featured John and Bert, two amateur restauranteurs who had no idea how to run a kitchen. Both Jon Taffer and his kitchen expert were appalled at the state of the establishment, and, upon seeing that the kitchen’s grill was constantly on fire because it had never been cleaned, Jon lost it.
Throwing plates around and shouting that he wanted to see John and his kids wallow in the filth they had created, Taffer let loose in this episode, and it ended up being one of the show’s funniest.
Not Cleared For Takeoff (Season 6, Episode 16)
An old L.A. music venue was the lucky winner for this episode, and it needed major help. The interior and exterior were falling into disrepair, and, oddly enough, the owner didn’t seem to mind one bit.
It’s surprising that the owner would even agree to Jon coming in and working his magic, but at least it happened. It’s still open to this day, so Jon must have sparked some passion in the owner, after all. This episode was a fortunate example of Jon being able to save a business that otherwise seemed destined to go under. It just wasn’t very entertaining.
Punch-Drunk And Trailer-Trashed (Season 3, Episode 33)
A restaurant is a great place for a first job, but, when the managers and staff don’t care, it can be horrible. This was the case at The O’Face Bar, as the staff got drunk, started fights with one another, and much, much worse.
Once Jon put them to the test, the food wasn’t edible, mixing glasses were broken, and a physical fight broke out. In the end, Jon decided to walk away for the first time in history and recommended counseling for everyone. Two years later, the owner was arrested on suspicion of abuse, so it’s pretty obvious why The O’Face Bar is permanently closed, and perhaps that’s for the best.
Shamrocks And Shenanigans (Season 4, Episode 33)
Managing a bar was difficult for Bob Isaacson, and it wasn’t as easy as Cheers made it seem, so he brought in his girlfriend to help him out. It seemed like an easy decision until their relationship became strained. On top of that, his staff didn’t respect him, and their conversations often turned into fights.
The worst part about the whole ordeal was that the bar was losing $6,000 a month in revenue, which is never a good sign. Basically, there was no leadership, the bar lacked any sort of identity, and jobs weren’t taken seriously. Jon and his team seemed to help guide the team back to their main objective and gave the bar a makeover, renaming it Way Point Saloon.
Too Many Managers, Not Enough Man (Season 4, Episode 29)
In this episode, Jon realized that there was an abundance of managers on-site, which wasn’t needed. They all seemed to have their own agenda, but the one thing they saw eye-to-eye on was giving the owner a hard time. It’s not a good sign when the owner can’t successfully manage his own staff and Jon saw this right away.
From their attitude towards the recon to the constant arguing, it was a painful episode to watch. Since the show, the bar is now called BR Steak, and it is still in business.
Owner On The Run (Season 6, Episode 28)
Two brothers owned The Original Hideout in Tucson, Arizona. Its main issue was that one of the brothers owed $300,000 in debt and couldn’t seem to keep up. The overwhelming weight these two brothers had on their shoulders was huge, but it’s what some business owners have to endure.
The other brother, Raoul, couldn’t seem to shake the stress and anxiety and literally ran away during filming. It was a sad scene, as these brothers were completely in over their heads and couldn’t seem to come up with any answers.
Grow Some Meatballs!! (Season 3, Episode 35)
In this episode, Jon visits a Santa Clarita, California bar that was successful when it first opened but has since accrued quite a bit of debt. To make things worse, once the bar begins to pick up steam once again, the staff is ill-equipped to deal with all of the new patrons, and, amongst the havoc, a grease fire breaks out.
Even more ridiculous, the fire extinguisher keep on hand for just such an occasion fails, and, had Jon not been there to handle the situation, things could really have gotten out of hand. While it’s hard to decipher the degree to which this was dramatized, a fire breaking out in the kitchen is never a good thing.
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