You hear it from people occasionally: “Bar Rescue” is the best show on television.
That’s the reality show on Spike TV in which bar industry veteran Jon Taffer travels the country to help bail out failing bar owners. Outdated décor, dirty kitchensemployee theft, over pouring the drinks – Taffer serves up his tough love to owners and staff wherever it’s needed to help get the place turned around.
Why does the show connect?  Credit its straight ahead style – no touchy-feely stuff, no bull, it’s all about the bottom line. Owning a bar isn’t a fun hobby, it’s tough. It’s competitive. Word moves fast these days – a few bad reviews on Yelp YELP -0.89% can be catastrophic. The “Bar Rescue” lessons – marketing, cost control, the right product mix for your target customer, dealing with difficult employees – can be applied to any business.
The show has turned Taffer, who spent 30 years running small businesses and investing in the hospitality industry, into an instant media star. He gets over 1,000 submissions a year from bar owners across the country looking to be rescued (they’re weeded out carefully, limited to those genuinely in danger of failing, not those just looking for a free re-model). He’s now out with a secret-sharing book, “Raise the Bar,” and soon, a new show called “Hungry Investors,” in which struggling restaurants battle each other for investor dollars.
Between book signing appearances in the New York City area, Taffer, a New Yorker himself, sat down with Forbes to discuss his career, frequent misconceptions about bar ownership, and his future initiatives. Here’s what he had to say:
Written by: Thomas Van Riper, Forbes