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Brix/Pacific Coast Wine Bar – Episode 430

Air Date: August 9, 2015
Season 4, Episode 30 – Put a Cork in It!
Location: Sunset Beach, California
Description: Pressure continues to build in Sunset Beach, when Jon Taffer and his experts challenge Rick Reich, owner of Brix, to focus less on being the center of attention and more on managing his finances and staff.

The Story

Jon Taffer and his team of experts head to Sunny California to rescue Brix, a wine bar located in Sunset Beach. Rick Reich, a former trucking business owner, opened Brix in 2005 when he moved him family from Washington to California. In its beginning years, Brix did very well, earning $1.2 million in their best month. However, with a lack of systems in place and no sales strategy, Rick is now in $180,000 worth of debt and loses roughly $4,000 a month. Investing all of his retirement and life savings into Brix, he needs to make a change and it needs to happen fast.

The Recon

Jon enlisted in the help of TV personality and wine enthusiast Maria Menounos and Kevin Undergaro to do recon at the bar. Maria and Kevin ask the bartender, Tina, for a wine suggestion and she suggests a red wine. When Maria asks for the price of the bottle, Tina is unable to answer. Tina was not the most knowledgeable when it came to answering questions about different wines, so she grabs Rick to have him explain instead. Maria is able to get Rick to open eight bottles of wine for her and her boyfriend to taste; eight bottles of wine is equivalent to 32 glass of wine and roughly $250. Maria then orders the pastrami sandwich, which is tasty but the flavors do not complement the wine well. Jon calculated that in 20 days $7,5000 worth of wine was being poured and only $3,000 was being made – therefore Rick was pouring away $4,000 worth of wine in 20 days.

The Stress Test

During the stress test, it is evident that Rick’s lack of leadership and assistance hinders the staff from performing their best. Samantha, one of the bartenders, is forced to leave her bar unattended when a guest asks for a beer because the beer taps are located in another section of the wine bar. Every time she leaves, it’s money and time lost. The kitchen is unexpectedly slow… only to realize the machine that generates food orders was unplugged. One the system was plugged back in, dozens of food orders came rushing through, backing up the kitchen. Rick performed very well under the stress test. He sold 12 bottles of wine with was two more than Jon asked him to sell.

The Rescue

Jon renamed the establishment Pacific Coast Wine Bar to give it a fresh start. The inside is redecorated to be more cohesive with the brand and ambiance of a wine bar. The bar tops are reupholstered in white leather to make the wine glasses “pop”. Jon also added two POS systems, to each room, from two touch and the systems connect to the kitchen making food orders easier to track. Additional beer taps were also added to the bar located in the wine room, so the bartenders will no longer have to leave the bar unattended to pour guests beer.

Updates

Four weeks later, Pacific Coast Wine Bar generated $63,514.80 in revenue and Rick implemented systems that have set up his staff for success. He is also more focused on his bottom line than being the center of attention.

 

Featured Cocktails

The PCH Spritzer

4 oz. Sterling Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

1½ oz Ginger Beer

Garnish with a lime wheel

 

The Berry Currant

4 0z. Acacia Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir

1 oz. Crème de Cassis

Garnish with a blackberry

10 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM THE ‘MOROCCAN RESCUE’ #TAFFERTALK

Jon Taffer took to Twitter last night to answer questions during a special episode of Bar Rescue just before the first installment of the epic television event, Tut. We had a look at some old nicknames, his favorite places in Vegas and his preferred baseball club.

Read the full article on Spike.

 

The Palace/Menara – Episode 423

Air Date: July 19th, 2015
Season 4, Episode 23 – Brokedown Palace
Location: Upland, California
Description: Tension is at an all time at high in Upland, CA when Jon Taffer and his experts challenge co-owners Sam Khalil and Ghazi Ashkar, who continuously micromanage each other and undermanage their staff.

The Story

Jon Taffer and his team of experts head to the West Coast to rescue The Palace, a Moroccan-themed bar owned by two brother-in-laws located in Upland, California. Since opening its doors in 2013, The Palace has accumulated $650,000 in debt and loses $8,000 to $10,000 monthly. Business owners Sam Khalil and Ghazi Ashkar hold very different roles within the bar, Sam being in charge of the back while Ghazi entertains the guests in the front with free drinks. Sam and Ghazi both have resentment toward each other for the bars failure, which created a toxic work environment for their employees. The staff at The Palace lacks the leadership, communication, and direction needed from Sam and Ghazi, making it impossible to run the restaurant properly.

The Recon

Jon recruited help from Alexander Siddig and Iddo Goldberg, actors in Spike’s new mini series Tut, to do recon at the bar. Alexander and Iddo, who finished filming Tut in Morocco a few days prior to their arrival at The Palace, were less than impressed at the poorly executed Moroccan décor throughout the bar. Alexander and Iddo drank a poorly concocted martini, waited fifteen minutes for a menu, and sat through an awkward belly dancing performance. The surveillance cameras placed inside the kitchen captured the chef handling raw meat before touching the plates of hummus, which were then served to Alexander and Iddo. An infuriated Jon radioed them to not eat the food, as it was unsafe.

Bar Rescue Brokedown Palace

The Stress Test

Due to the size of The Palace, which sits at 7,000 square feet, the remodeling had to begin immediately in order for it to be completed on time. The stress test took place at Stein Haus, a bar that Jon had previously rescued, and was a complete disaster. The pita bread was burnt, the inexperienced bartenders continuously served inconsistently poured cocktails, and the wait for food and drinks was entirely too long. Jon sent one of the bartenders home after she continued to make the same mistake in holding the bottle of alcohol incorrectly, causing her to make unequal pours. Sam and Ghazi have switched roles throughout the stress test, Ghazi now in charge of the kitchen and Sam out managing the front. Ghazi decides to then leave the kitchen and mingle with guests out in the front, causing an argument to erupt between the two owners. Jon finally shuts it down.

The Rescue

For a fresh start, Jon renames the bar Menara, giving the bar a more authentic Moroccan vibe. Mia Mastronianni, a world-famous mixologist, crafted two signature cocktails for the bar and Penny Davidi, the executive chef at PUMP in West Hollywood, created a menu that authentically captured the Moroccan culture. To enhance the Moroccan theme, tiles were added behind the bar and colors of dark red, orange, and mustard were incorporated throughout the bar. To make the bar area more inviting Jon added bar stools, which were accompanied by newly drafted drink menus. To break the banquet-like seating, Jon implemented a new seating structure.

Taffer Tips

  • People spend 60% more in a well-themed bar.
  • Garnishing a cocktail correctly will add style to signature cocktails.
  • Business partners need to respect each other in order to be successful with their business.
  • When handling raw meat, WASH YOUR HANDS immediately before touching anything else. Always use proper food handling procedures to keep your customers safe.

Updates

Six weeks later, Menara earned $72,356 in revenue. The bartenders have excelled and the staff has enjoyed the new sense of leadership felt throughout the bar. Sam and Ghazi are now true partners, who respect each other.

Featured Cocktails
The Pomagazi

  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 5 oz. Cardamom Infused Pomegranate Syrup
  • 5 oz Smirnoff 21 Vodka
  • lime wheel

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

The Fig and Honey Sour

  • 3/4 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. Fig and honey syrup
  • 5 oz. Crown Royal Deluxe

Combine ingredients in a shaker. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.

 

Six Point Inn/Over Easy Bar & Breakfast – Episode 425

Air Date: July 12, 2015
Season 4, Episode 25 – It’s Always Sunny in Portland
Location: Portland, OR
Description: Tempers ignite in this Portland bar, when Jon Taffer and his experts face off with a stubborn chef, while an owner is ready to cut the cord as his over-bearing stepdaughter and business partner berates her staff.

The Story
Jon Taffer and the crew head to Oregon to rescue Six Point Inn, a family-owned bar located in a small blue-collar neighborhood of St. John in northern Portland. As one of the only bars in the neighborhood, the business was successful upon opening its doors in 2009, generating $30,000 in revenue a month. Business owner, Oleg Pilipenko, decided to shift his focus to opening other businesses and left his inexperienced stepdaughter, Sunny, in control of the bar’s daily operations. Sunny’s resentment with Oleg created a toxic work environment, which led to declining staff morale and chasing customers away. With an absent owner and a crumbling family relationship, Six Point Inn began to fail, leaving the bar with $1,000,000 in debt.

The Recon
Jon enlisted the help of local social media bloggers to do recon at the bar, which is supposedly known for their breakfast items such as Bloody Mary’s and biscuits and gravy. During the recon, the microwavable gravy left the bloggers extremely unimpressed. The drinks were described as “too boozy” and a blogger stated that it was “one of the more regrettable things I’ve ever drank.” The verdict? Thumbs down – in order for Six Point Inn to succeed, they would need to come up with a better menu to stand out from the competition.

The Rescue
The business’s name “Six Point Inn” was misleading and made it seem more like a hotel than a bar. Jon Taffer renamed it to Over Easy Bar and Breakfast and gave it a fresh coat of paint to brighten up the exterior. Inside the bar, Jon placed the focus on local, fresh ingredients (important to the young, Portland demographic) by bringing in an eye-catching wall display of fresh oranges and coffee beans. Jon moved the eating area to a brightly lit dining room with windows, separate from the darker bar area.

Taffer Tips
• Garnering the support of your social media bloggers is free marketing. At the touch of a button, their words can reach over 100,000 people. Bloggers can make or break a bar’s reputation.
• Breakfast houses needs natural lighting. Dark lighting is more conducive for drinking.
• Muddling extracts the juices and oils from the fruits and herbs. Ice does NOT help the muddling process and only waters down the drink.
• Having an amazing garnish elevates the value of the drink. When you see a cocktail that looks sexy and expensive, you’re willing to pay money for that cocktail.
• Repurposing your ingredients for multiple dishes keeps your food cost low.

Updates
Eight weeks after the re-launch, beverage sales are up 30% and food sales were up 65%. Sunny and Oleg are working like a team to manage the bar, but Sal has gone back to his old gravy.

Yelp Reviews
• “The bar has recently been remodeled and looks great. Tasty food with decent prices. The Bloody Mary’s are made from scratch and are very good. Breakfast served all day, which is yummy. Our waitress was very friendly. Definitely go back again!” Tiffany L.
• What really makes this place pop is the breakfast. The handmade Bloody Mary’s were fresh, spicy, and delicious. The prices are great too!

Featured Cocktail: The Java Rum
Ingredients
Rim glass with sugar
Dash of high proof rum
Dash of cinnamon
¾ oz. Captain Morgan White Rum
¾ oz. coffee liqueur
6 oz. hot coffee
Top: vanilla heavy cream
Garnish: Doughnut hole

Directions
Rim a coffee mug with sugar. Add a dash of high proof rum and a dash of cinnamon. Add coffee liqueur and rum. Add coffee and top off with vanilla heavy cream. Garnish with donut hole.

Murphy’s Law/Money Bar – Episode 422

Air Date: July 5, 2015
Season 4, Episode 22 – Emergency Exit
Location: Reno, NV
Description: Before he’s able to save a bar from spiraling out of control, Jon Taffer is forced to navigate a turbulent partnership between an ex-pilot and his ex-girlfriend that’s neither business nor pleasure.

The Story
In 2011, former airline pilot Gary Telfer decided to open an Irish bar, called Murphy’s Law, with his then-girlfriend Maria. Not having enough money for the down payment, he approached his friend; a bartender named Nellie, and asked for $25,000. This meant that Gary and Maria (who didn’t put up a cent) each owned 40% and Nellie owned the remaining 20%.

The bar held its grand opening in 2014 earning an impressive $7,000 in the first week. Shortly after, Gary’s relationship with Maria began to deteriorate. Devastated by the breakup, Gary was unable to handle the duties as an owner and began to put more effort into saving his relationship with Maria, rather than tending to his bar.

Nellie did his best to keep things going but, with no help from the estranged couple, the business started to fold. It was clear there wasn’t any leadership or order in the bar. Frustrated, and in an attempt to prevent further losses, Gary made a call to Bar Rescue.

The Recon
During the recon, Jon found that kitchen had a number of violations, the biggest being that it had wooden walls and surfaces; which is against code.

As the night progressed, Maria was observed drinking and playing the slot machines. In addition, Jon found himself in the middle of a brawl between Nellie and Gary. Once he calmed everything down, Jon mentioned the potentially hazardous situation regarding the kitchen. Jon had his team install Fire Resistant Paneling. The next day Jon fired Maria; a decision that everyone felt was for the best.

For the renovation, Jon installed a new kitchen into the bar; complete with an electric skillet, flattop, fryer, and additional storage space. Jon changed the name of the bar to Money Bar and gave it the look of an old-fashioned casino; in order to pay homage to 1930s post Prohibition Reno. He also added more bar stools, which changed the seating capacity from 27 to 60.

The Result
The re-launch was largely successful, impressing many of the patrons with the bar’s new look. Six weeks later, the Money Bar’s food and beverage sales were up 20%. Gary is proud of the progress that the bar is making and Nellie was able to finally start paying back his loan.

Updates
The owners decided to not stick with the name changed and went back to using Murphy’s Law. The reviews on Yelp have been less than impressive.

Featured Cocktail: The Vesper
To pay tribute to the post Prohibition era, famed mixologist Gerry Graham, came up with a new take on an old favorite. The recipe is as follows:

What you need:
¾ oz Tanqueray London dry grin
½ oz Smirnoff vodka
¼ oz French Aperitif
Flamed lemon peel

What to do:
Mix all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker and pour over ice. Garnish with the flamed lemon peel

Bullpen Bar/Oak Tavern – Episode 421

Air Date: June 28, 2015
Season 4, Episode 21 – Take Me Out of the Bar Game
Location: Sparks, NV
Description: Before he’s able to save a bar from spiraling out of control, Jon Taffer is forced to navigate a turbulent partnership between an ex-pilot and his ex-girlfriend that’s neither business nor pleasure.

The Story
In 2013, Dan Serafini, a retired Major League Baseball pitcher, decided to add bar owner to his résumé by taking over the Bullpen Bar in Aspen Glen. Dan changed the name and theme, turning it into a sports bar.

The bar was a rousing success from the moment its doors reopened. Due to the bar’s success, Dan was able to step back and spend more time with his new wife, Erin. Dan hired family friends, Tara and Wynter, to help tend to the customers. This decision was a huge mistake, causing his profits to decrease significantly.

According to Yelp reviews, some of the issues that led to the bar’s downfall include:
• Bad lighting
• Smoky atmosphere due to broken smoke ventilator
• Horrible customer service
• Not family friendly
• Drunken employees

Now, Dan is in debt to the tune of approximately, $300,000. Desperate for a miracle to save his bar Dan made a call to Bar Rescue.

The Recon
During the recon, it was obvious to Jon and his team that Dan’s staff treated the bar like it was their personal liquor cabinet. In fact bartender Jessica blew a .021 when Jon administered a Breathalyzer test; that’s three times the legal limit.

During the stress test, all four bartenders were tested for drink production. Unfortunately, one of Dan’s family friends, Wynter, was fired for her lackluster performance. In a surprising twist of events, Jessica turned out to be the fastest bartender.

In order to make the bar successful, Jon changed the look, came up with a new business model, and changed its name to Oak Tavern. Additional changes include:
• Uniforms for the employees
• Added seating
• A redesigned bar
• New policies e.g. the bar is now non-smoking until 9pm in an attempt to make it more family friendly

Updates
The re-launch was a great success and six weeks later, Dan says that the bar has increased its sales by 70%. In addition, Jessica is now sober when at work and has tripled her sales.

Yelp Reviews
• “Hands down, the best burger I have ever had. I don’t think anything could have made it better.
Let’s talk about the pork infused ground beef patty that was juicy to the last bite, with Tri-tip steak on top making it the perfect meat blends! Crunchy lettuce, delicious tomato, crisp red onion, smothered with 2 slices of provolone on the softest gluten-free bun I have ever had. Beyond description, beyond words! I needed to buy this Burger dinner before enjoying this glorious moment! Add Metro Deli Jalapeño Cheddar chips on the side with pepperoncinis that pop in your mouth, and a Burbon Buck to wash it all down, perfecto! The atmosphere tops it all off, the Chef comes out to meet you in person, the waitresses are very pleasant and never let your drink hit bottom and getting the pleasure of shaking hands with the owners and management, really makes the whole night! When, not if, but when you get the chance, enjoy this great Tavern!” – Danielle B.
• “Definitely the best cocktails I have had in the Reno/Sparks area. I was lucky enough to visit this bar back in April (right after re-opening and before the show aired). When it comes to drinks, I love creativity. I was able to try both ones on the menu and ones that weren’t on the menu. A bartender that can suggest more than a vodka cranberry when I am not sure what I want is pretty awesome in my book. I sadly don’t remember the bartender’s name but he was awesome! It wasn’t too crazy when we went on a Friday night, but sadly we missed the kitchen being open (Hopefully next time we make it during the day to try some food). The bar is also in a perfect location that’s quieter and easier to access than downtown. Can’t wait to return!” – Kate P.

Featured cocktail: S’mores Martini

Due to the residents in the area love for outdoor sports, ace mixologist Phis Willis created a cocktail that paid homage to this activity. The recipe is as follows:

What you need:
1 oz. Chocolate liqueur
2 oz. Marshmallow vodka
1 oz. Creme de Cacao
1 oz. Chocolate, melted
2 oz. Cream or half & half
3 Marshmallows
1 Graham cracker

What to do:
1. Use your hands to crush the graham cracker into a small bowl
2. Place the chocolate into a second small bowl and microwave until melted
3. Dip the rim of the martini glass into the chocolate
4. Dip the chocolate covered rim into the graham cracker pieces. Let the martini glass sit in the refrigerator for a few minutes
5. Add the chocolate liqueur, marshmallow vodka, cream, and crème de cacao into a cocktail shaker and fill it with ice
6. Shake the mixture thoroughly and pour into the prepared martini glass
7. Skewer the marshmallows and hold them over an open flame until the ends get toasted.
8. Thread the toasted marshmallows onto a cocktail pick and use them to garnish the drink

Park 77/The Lister – Episode 420

Air date: June 21, 2015
Season 4, Episode 20: Sticky Situation
Location: Park Merced, CA
Description: A family-owned bar risks shutting down when a son’s excessive drinking creates bad management decisions that sends their profits down the drain and attracts some x-rated characters. 

It all started in 2011, when Tano Basso, an electrician decided to open Park 77 and take back up the family tradition of owning a bar and restaurant business. For help with funding, he asked his older brother Wayne – and nephews Angelo and Tommy, to help run the bar. Each has an equal 25% share, making Park 77 a true family affair.

Park 77 is a 4,5000 square foot facility that features 4 pool tables, a bar, and large outdoor patio. It is located in the coveted Park Merced neighborhood, just south of San Francisco State University Park. Park 77 experienced success in its beginning stages but soon started to fail after Tommy and Tano pulled back their involvement due to other business responsibilities. They turned the day-to-day management to the inexperienced Angelo.

Angelo made some bad decisions (giving away free drinks, being drunk on the job, etc.) and the bar is now in almost 200,000 worth of debt. Additional issues that have caused this bar to fail include:

  • An ugly bar sign
  • An underutilized and uninviting patio that can be seen from the street
  • An incident involving an adult movie being shot on premise during business hours in front of guests 

The Recon

During the Recon, Jon sent in two young women, Gabrielle and Krista, to get their opinion on the bar. They ordered a margarita and Mai-tai; both of which were made incorrectly. When Angelo came over and gave the women a shot, he took one also, without thinking twice. Jon noticed that he drank the entire time they were watching.

The next morning, after Angelo slept out his bender in the bar, Jon assembled the staff to give his critique. He showed Wayne the video of what occurred the night before, which visibly disappointed him. Jon also told Wayne about the adult film and called Angelo pathetic; poor guy didn’t even understand why.

Next, Jon mentioned the statistics from Bartender which said that, in the past three days, they’d poured approximately $16,000 worth of alcoholic beverages and gave away about $7,500; that’s almost half of their potential revenue. In a year, the total for this deficit equals to a staggering $360,000! 

To turn things around, Jon recommended a renovation as well as the rebranding of Park77 to the The Lister; so named for the founder and first president of San Francisco State University. Jon also updated the venue with new signage that can be seen from the street, added atmospheric lights to throughout the establishment, and renovated the back bar.

These new changes were designed to provide the failing bar with the perception of being contemporary and sophisticated. To attract the target demographic of The Lister, women between the ages of 21 and 27, Jon added a dance floor. He also introduced the concept of the Triple Butt Funnel, the first ever seen on Bar Rescue, to create a situation where patrons are forced to interact with each other.

Featured cocktail: The Mister Lister Mai Tai

Expert mixologist Russell Davis named the Mai Tai as the Lister’s signature drink due to its origin in the Bay area from Trader Vick’s in Oakland, CA.

Bar Rescue The Lister Mai Tai Cocktail Recipe

The Mister Lister Mai Tai Cocktail

Ingredients:
¾ o z. Captain Morgan’s Original spiced rum
¾ oz. orange curacao
¾ oz Myers Dark Rum
¾ oz lime sour
½ oz orgeat
1 fresh lime squeezed
1 mint sprig

Directions:

Combine all liquid ingredients in cocktail shaker. Shake well and pour over ice. Add mint sprig for garnish

The Result: After the Relaunch

Opening night was a massive hit. The dance floor was packed with women and the bar was extremely busy. In addition, Angelo was sober and Tano and Tommy were more organized than they’d been. Fast forward to six weeks after the relaunch and the revenue of The Lister shot up 20%; making almost $74K during that time. Angelo is still sober and Tommy is now the assistant manager.

Owner Refuses To Hire Female Bartender

Jon Taffer & Mia Mastroianni watch on in horror as a chauvinistic owner runs his mouth and loses money.

11 Things We Learned from Back to the Bar #TafferTalk

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Jon Taffer took to Twitter last night to answer questions during a special episode of Bar Rescue. We were afforded a special look at his wardrobe, his previous businesses and where he stands with One-Eyed Mike from Piratz. Enjoy.

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‘Bar Rescue’ transforms The Holding Company to Patriot House on Spike

On tonight’s Spike episode of “Bar Rescue,” Jon Taffer and his crew came to San Francisco, California to The Holding Company, an American Saloon & Restaurant. In April 2014, the four Browne sisters from Dublin, Ireland pooled their savings and bought the forty-year-old failing bar on this episode titled, “Loose Lips Loose Tips.”

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