A review of Bar Rescue.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not big on watching television these days. In fact, a few days ago I had thought it was better to watch 6 hours of 24 than watch anything that was on TV at that moment. Since most of my blog hits as of late come from my Restaurant: Impossible review from a few months back, I thought I might as well review yet another Kitchen Nightmares knockoff that debuted recently. This one comes from Spike TV and it’s called Bar Rescue.

Our host and expert for the show is a guy named Jon Taffer, who may not have a Wikipedia page but does have an official site that lauds him for managing and rescuing various bars. Certainly better credentials than Robert Irvine, anyway. Bar Rescue seems to follow some of the trappings of Kitchen Nightmares, where a famous chef/entrepreneur observes a failing establishment, tries to find the cause(s) of the problem, and fix them in the course of a few days. Bar Rescue feels different, and in a good way.

The show starts out almost identical to KN, where Taffer and his wife observe the booze and food, as well as the decor. Afterwards he meets up with the staff and tries to find out the problems of the bar, with help from a few specialists in mixing and food preparation. This isn’t a bad thing, everybody has their specialties and passing yourself off as a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none isn’t a good thing.

One other thing that I saw that Bar Rescue does compared to its competition is that they seem to show the “science” of running a bar. Showing that overpouring liquor can cost a bar money, that having common liquors in the same place result in serving drinks quickly, even how cooking certain foods can be a loss leader but still make money when people buy alcohol with it. This is something I wish shows of this ilk did more: Thinking about the business side of how a bar/restaurant works. That’s a slight problem with a lot of these shows: You can only improve the decor and clean the place up so many times before it becomes very boilerplate and repetitive every show. Showing precisely why your business is failing is something I wish Kitchen Nightmares touched on a bit more.

Is this show worth watching? I’d say yes. I’m not a bar goer, but watching this made me understand just a few reasons why some bars are successful and some look like absolute shitholes. It’s miles better than Restaurant: Impossible. But then again, you could do a local knockoff of Kitchen Nightmares and it would look a million times better than R:I.


About B.J. Brown

Just someone in their thirties continuing their ventured tales on the internet by writing random but quirky things on my mind.

Posted on August 1, 2011, in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. 30 Minutes of Shame

    Taffer is an idiot. He starts by yelling and spitting insults to people, while incessantly repeating his resume and credentials as if masturbating! Finally by day 3 he stupidly realizes that yelling and screaming doesn’t make a Point valid, while his hired team of true Chefs, Restauranteurs and Mixologists assess and advice on the best approach for the bar’s immediate success. Mind you, Bar Rescue has not proven to rescue any bar: the media attention bring flocks of people to these places with the hopes to be captured on TV for that last night on the air. Updates are usually short and vague. Also, the show strongly suggests that a great amount of money is necessary to transform these bars in order for them to compete. Instead Jon Taffer acts like he is a Guru that has magically transmogrified these businesses with a touch of his wand!
    The Show would be a great success without this jackass. Maybe a successful TV Producer will create TV Show Rescue and fire him for being Delusional.

  2. Poster sounds like a bitter bar owner and a jackeagon. Great show and Taffer is the real deal. They cannily update as much as the bar owners allow. My guess is they don’t follow his advice and treat it like an interior design makeover; leaving behind the biz aspect.

  3. I think Jon and the show are great. He only yells when he has a right to.

  4. Taffer IS the real deal. You can lead a horse to water, but can’t force it to drink… Taffer can only point them in the right direction. What happens after he leaves is out of his control. He’s teaching bar 101, but it’s amazing how many owners/managers/staff in the business have no clue or only beginner knowledge. He’s also many times giving the venue a much needed and overdue makeover (which any well seasoned manager in the business also knows should happen every 3-5 years to freshen up the place). A business is only as good as the people running it and executing. Knowledge is one thing. Being able to execute the plan is a whole other thing. The show is reinvigorating the ownership/management/staff, giving them much needed makeovers and giving them invaluable exposure (try paying for that much airtime) – what’s wrong with any of that?

    • That’s exactly what I think!
      I also think people who disagrees are much more employee oriented resistent to changes due to poor business vision, lack of leadership and too much useless self pride.

  5. angry customer

    Taffer is an idiot. For a bar in my town he did no market research, created something so ill fitted no one will go there-not even the most devoted customers of the former tavern. For a few minutes on tv bar owners sell their souls and are left with a 1/2 assed job and cheap decor.

  6. Listen up– I own a bar with 2 other partners. We each put up 300g. I was silent partner. I watched every rescue up to Nov. 15. I was watching my Restaurant/Bar from a new set of eyes. We were just making it for 5 years and I realized nothing would change unless we as owners changed.We were doing 45000 per month and the nut was about 45. I did my own bar rescue. I lent the bar 40k and did what rescue does. The only thing I needed help with was changing the look to get that feel. I took over and became the GM and became the boss of my 2 partners. 1 partner was on board 1 thought we would be closed in 3 months. He was fearful of being exposed as a thief and a failure. He was both but his poor management was the real problem. He was out voted and I got serious with the additional knowledge from rescue. The show motivated me! 3 months minus 2 days and I have my 45g back. We doubled our gross minus the additional expensed and are confident we should be able to take the gross to 30gs per week before we are at our max based on size etc. I will then work on increasing margins by moving revenue towards higher mix of premium booze. I hate making my ash hole partner money but I did negotiate a great salary based on profits and they are happy and I know they have 0 leverage. I can do this with any failing place but you have to have the right person to manage. Its the management that fails every time!!!!!

  7. The problem isn’t Jon Taffer. Even if he does yell, these places are getting expert advice from a top chef and top bartender. The problem is stupid management and ownership. Most of these places featured have owners who had a dream to own a bar and have little to no prior business experience or education. The five days Taffer and crew are there aren’t enough to fix stupid.

    I don’t always agree with the complete overhaul and name change, but the things he teaches them are essential to bar management and success. He leaves and they go back to their old ways. Just from watching the show I can tell you which ones will probably still fail due to crappy ownership.

    Come on these people are getting expert advice and tons of publicity. Then people blame Taffer for screwing it up. Uh, these places were in bad shape and about to fold when he got there. They should only blame themselves if they can’t take advantage of all those things. You can’t fix stupid.

  8. It’s a Television show people. Part reality, part fantasy. Ask yourself these questions…1.) Does the Host howler and scream? Yes. 2.)Does the show promote products? Yes. 3.)Does the show seem edited together to make things look like it has continuity? Yes. 4.)Do these reality programs really try to help the owners? Yes. The concept is a simple one: The Producers get something, the owners get something and we the views get something.

    So I still find it some what amazing, when some people that watch shows like this, seem to think the producers are only making the show to promote themselves or to sell their sponsors products. Personally, when I do watch shows like Bar Rescue, I like to see who the company’s are that providing the different products for the makeover. I like to see the Host engage the Owners and sometimes force them to face their own faults in order to make their business succeed.

    Finally. I anyone really believes that any reality program on television today is a true reflection of our world, well, I can only ask those people…”What color is the sky in your world?”

  9. I watch “fast food” television as though it’s just a fictional tv show with actors. But I have to stop watching Bar Rescue, it’s the same pattern over and over. The guy that plays Jon Taffer does the same thing every show and has the worst voice. Thank you for providing me hours of binge watching in the past, but I quit watching 8 months ago. Can the character “Jon Taffer” be written off and we get a new person? New layout? New writters?

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