5 Tips to Help You Make Your Bar The Hottest Joint in Town

Interested in making your bar the hottest joint in town? Follow my tips to find out what makes a bar great:

  1. Hot bars are high energy

The key to having a high energy bar comes down to the music. Hire a DJ to play songs that have a lot of beats-per-minute to keep your customers moving and grooving.

  1. Build your bar to suit the tastes of your target demographic

If you want your patrons to spend money in your bar, you must give them what they want. It is important that everything (i.e. the finishes, walls, textures, beverages, foods, etc.) will be pleasing to the customers in your demographic.

  1. Never drink in your own bar

It is important that you keep things professional at all times. If there’s a big crowd and your staff is working hard to take care of your customers needs, your place is beside them, helping to keep up with the demand. Even on a slow night, there is no excuse. Your bar is your place of business- drink on your own time.

  1. Use visuals to up your hotness factor

Make sure that your bar, food, drinks, design, artwork, entertainment, uniforms, etc. are visually appealing to your customers. If your bar is missing any of these elements, it won’t matter if you serve the best burger and/or cocktail in town. No one wants to go to a bar that they think is uncool.

  1. Innovative Beverages

An easy way to increase the cool factor of your bar is with the addition of fresh, new cocktails. Trendy drinks are always a crowd pleaser, so be sure to set aside time with your bartender to learn and keep up with the new recipes. Beer cocktails and flavored spirits are also really popular. Make sure to switch up your selection to get an accurate idea of what your customer’s preferences are.

You may also want to invite your employees to get creative and to come up with some innovative recipes of their own; just make sure they look appealing. Garnish them appropriately and serve them in unique glassware for an extra touch.

The 31 Greatest Bar Names In America


Screenshot 2015-06-04 09.30.48

First off: a great bar. You can have the greatest, most singular, most place-appropriate, wink-wink evocative singsong goddamn happy drunken tap-dancing reverie of a bar name ever, but if the bar sucks, it doesn’t matter. You’re dead. Likewise, you can have a completely utilitarian handle and still have a great bar that runs across the ages like a liquor-scented perpetual motion machine.


Taffer’s Take: Jon Taffer on How to Keep Your Bar Hot and Contemporary

tafferhead2promoWe are pleased to welcome renowned nightlife expert Jon Taffer on board as a contributor. This is the first entry in his regular column, Taffer’s Take.

Let’s talk about drinks. Innovative beverages. Cool, new, fresh cocktails.

Drinks and cocktails have trends just like anything else, so spend time with your bartenders learning and keeping up with new recipes, and invite your employees to get creative and try coming up with their own. Don’t forget to make sure your cocktails always look appealing — no matter how good they taste, no one’s going to keep ordering them if they look weird! Garnish them appropriately and serve them in different and unique glassware.

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How to Make Your Bar the Hottest Joint in Town

The host and executive producer of the TV series Bar Rescue gives his tips on what makes a rockin’ bar. Take notes, people.

Jon Taffer is a longtime food and beverage industry consultant specializing in nightclubs, lounges, and pubs, who’s had a hand in 800 establishments over the course of his three-decade career. He’s also the host and executive producer of the Spike TV show Bar Rescue, which sees Taffer and his team “rescue” failing bars from the brink of closure. New episodes of the series begin June 21.

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How to Succeed in the Bar Business

Owning a bar sounds like the perfect life to many potential entrepreneurs, but it’s not always fun and games. It’s hard work. It takes time. It takes dedication. But if you have a clear vision, it can also translate into a rewarding and successful business.

Here are some tips for prospective bar owners to know before they get into the business:

1. Build a bar for your customers
You must build a bar for the marketplace and focus on your location. The bar shouldn’t be build to suit you.

Everyone remembers the downfall of Piratz Tavern from Bar Rescue. This failing pirate-themed bar was centrally located in Silver Spring, Maryland which had a sprawling business population during the daytime. The outlandish style of Piratz Tavern didn’t appeal to the local marketplace of corporate workers, so Bar Rescue renovated and rebranded the bar by changing the name to Corporate Bar and Grill, adding a lunch and happy hour service, and creating an environment that was inviting to the business community. However, soon after the renovation, the bar discarded the changes and reverted back to its pirate roots. In April 2015, Piratz Tavern closed its doors.

The takeaway from this rescue attempt?

Please your audience. Don’t open a bar for yourself, or that’s where you will fail.

2. Hire for attitude, not experience
Working as a bartender isn’t exactly rocket science and you should be hiring people who have great personalities. A candidate with the right attitude will boost your company higher than an experienced misfit. The key to recruiting is to identify the ideal personality for the job and then creating a descriptive job posting that captures it.

In this industry, we can only teach people, not train them. Training is behavior modification and can be a lengthy process. Skills can be learned, but personalities can not be changed. Teaching is showing someone how to carry out specific tasks and then encouraging them to add their own personalities to make their role come alive. We don’t train anyone; all we do is teach people so we should have the right personalities from the beginning or it’s all going to fall apart.

3. Profits come from the bar, not the kitchen
The cost of food is higher than drinks since there is more labor and equipment in making food. Food is a lot less profitable than beverages.

4. Keep an eye on the details
Control your liquor costs by frequently taking inventory. Inventory is a time-consuming task but it is the only way to control your cost of goods and ensure that you are making a profit margin. Profit margin in the bar business can disappear if you do not keep an eye on the details.

5. The first night is just the first night
New bar owners will open their bars and experience a “honeymoon” stage where they will be really busy for a period of time. A rookie bar owner in this stage will make the mistake of not managing their food and beverage costs properly and over scheduling their employees. These two mistakes of poor product and labor management will eventually force a bar to close.

13 Tips for Setting Up The Perfect Bar at Home

Screenshot 2015-05-01 11.41.38Jon Taffer, host of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue,” knows a thing or two about setting up the perfect bar. He shared with us everything you need to know to have an amazing home bar (including what you should avoid at all costs).

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Jon Taffer Describes the 3 Worst Bar Disasters

jon-taffer-5Over four seasons of hosting Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue,” Jon Taffer has seen a lot of things, including someone riding a horse into a bar. He’s even gotten into some tussles with angry bar owners.

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Jon Taffer Talks Bar Tech, Marketing to Millennials & Alcohol in Fast Casuals

On this episode of On Foodable Weekly, Paul Barron is at the Nightclub & Bar Show in Las Vegas with “Bar Rescue” host and consultant Jon Taffer. Watch the full episode as Taffer dives into how different technologies are impacting the bar scene; why he’s not a fan of tablet ordering; what one of the most important things every brand needs to attract Millennials; and why alcohol in fast casual has not been as prevalent as it should be, but how that is changing.

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How To Rescue Your Sports Bar Experience With Spike TV’s Jon Taffer

The Kangaroo Boxing Club restaurant in Washington, DC.

When Jon Taffer, host of the Spike TV show “Bar Rescue”, isn’t working to save one of the thousands of bars around in the country that have fallen into disrepair and debt, he can sometimes be found watching his beloved New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers.

“When I grew up in New York in the ‘60s and I was a young boy, I used to think the World Series was the best team in baseball against the Yankees,” he said. “Because it was in Yankee Stadium every year when I was growing up.”

Traveling all over the country for Spike as well as his other business ventures, Taffer is in the same place as millions of sports fans: Finding a place to watch their favorite team. So what makes a great sports bar? Fans, to start.

“There was a place a years ago in Detroit, unfortunately it’s gone and it’s famous because Billy Martin, the Yankees manager, punched a marshmellow salesman in the face years ago and it got him arrested,” he said. “It was called Lindell’s AC — Lindell’s Athletic Club — and it was one of the oldest sports bars in America at the time. It was 50-60 years old, and it was this little dark wooden room with scratches in the wall and signatures of players who had been there.

“This was the worst bar you’d ever seen. But watching the game there was the most incredible experience in the world, because you’re watching with real fans. So if you want to know where the great sports are in your town? Go where the fans go.”

A few more important things to have:

A well-designed seating area with well-placed TVs:
“No one wants to go into a sports bar and sit with you neck up or neck turned,” he pointed out. And some comfortable bar chairs also come highly recommended. After all, “Do you want to sit in a barstool for 7 hours or do you want to sit in a comfy chair for 7 hours?” Taffer asked.

Good food:
“Sports fills a bar about 70 days a year,” Taffer said. “People think sports will fill a bar 200 days a year or more. Even in cities like St. Louis where they’re hockey nuts and they go to almost every game in the season, the typical sports bar does about 70 days a year in sports and the rest of the time they have to have great food, great beverages going.” Every sports bar, he suggest, should have a great burger, a basket item (think chicken wings or fries) and for goodness sakes, something that includes bacon.

It can also be a great way for bars to keep money flowing. “When you’re on the West Coast football starts in the morning. On the East Coast it doesn’t. So great sports bars on the West Coast have breakfasts and lunches. At 11 o’clock you have your brunch, you start watching football. At 2 or 3 o’clock you have a burger. A great sports bar will serve you two meals because you’re there so long.”

A fun atmosphere:
This sounds like a simple one, but what’s the best way to tell a bad sports bar? There’s no energy. “A great sports bar doesn’t just put sports on TV, they produce it,” Taffer added. Have the staff get excited with the fans when their teams do well. “Give food away, do something. A bar should stimulate the excitement, emulate the experience of being at the stadium. Sometimes the game alone doesn’t do that, sometimes the staff has to do that.”

Written by: Nina Mandell, The Post Game

On Sound: Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue on running rock clubs, the science of BPM, and Van Halen’s boozy business affairs

Jon Taffer

“Running a bar is not just a business – it’s a science… nobody knows more about bar science than Jon Taffer.” Three seasons in, that opening voiceover to Spike TV’s Bar Rescue is undoubtedly the most recognizable on the current reality television landscape. Taffer, a bar business veteran, takes on the tired, the angry, the bitter, and the dejected who are desperate to find a savior even if, like doubting Thomas before them, they at first don’t believe. Much more often than not, the boisterous, Svengali-like Taffer is able to take establishments in disrepair and turn them around with a new look, sometimes a new name, and always with an attitude of positivity that few can match. That’s led to a book deal; Raise the Bar drops this October and is available for pre-order now, as well as another show on Spike, Hungry Investors, which is set to debut next spring.

But way before he was a pop culture touchstone, Taffer was a music man. He played drums with a band called Hollywood Joe so long ago it’s next to impossible to find more than grainy press photos or whispers of reverence and secondhand tales of their Sunset Strip days. Vanyaland caught up with Taffer at his home in Las Vegas last week, just before he was about to go out on the road to film more Bar Rescue episodes, with a fourth season beginning this fall. We talked about the role music plays in bars, a genius patent that Taffer has taken out, and what he believes to be the real reason Van Halen and Sammy Hagar went their separate ways.

Michael Christopher: How does music play into where you’ve come from and what you do today?

Jon Taffer: Years ago, I was a musician; I took nine years of drum lessons and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. Onstage, playing in places like the Troubadour, the Whisky, the Roxy and all those places, I got to feel the energy music had on environments – and it was very profound for me. Years later, the Knack played the Troubadour, and they had a song called “My Sharona.” When they played that song, I had never seen anything like it in my life – to this day. People stood on tables [mimics the iconic opening to the track], they just went, excuse me, fucking nuts! The energy and dynamic of this music was incredible.

One day the owner of the Troubadour, Doug Weston, threw me a key ring and said, “Ahh… you can have this place,” and the next day I was running the Troubadour. I went at this business with a love of music and an insatiable desire to create frenzy, energy and dynamics through music.

I own the only patent issued by the federal government to achieve the desire ambiance in a musical program in hospitality properties – it’s a friggin’ patent! I took 72,000 songs, color-coded them by energy level and then chose a number of things; beats-per-minute, instrumentation, distortion levels, then categorized them by female vocalists, male vocalist – put them into key and line them all into type, content, demographic and energy. Then we would design grids with beats-per-minute curves at a certain rate where we have these 45 minute sets; if they were too high or too long you’d get fried and go home early. Too low, too long you’d get bored and go home early.

Then I started working on the science of beats-per-minute. I have an incredible passion for human behavior; getting you to come to my place, getting you to stay longer, getting you to eat what I want you to eat, getting you to chew faster, chew slower, blink faster, blink slower, talk more, talk less.

Music is such an integral part of the bar experience whether it’s a live band, a jukebox, iPod nights, DJs…

Look at DJs today – Tiesto, $20-plus-million contract as a resident DJ in Las Vegas. The DJs are making millions and millions of dollars in Vegas. Every billboard when you drive up and down the strip, it used to be for restaurants and hotel rooms and suites; every one of them now is for a frickin’ DJ.

Where do you think bars make the biggest mistake with music?

I am not a DJ, I’m much too old for that now. I will allow a DJ to pick songs, because they’re better at that. But I am a nutcase when it comes to managing music. Some people might take offense to some of this, but I am absolutely right, I’ve got 35 years and a track record to prove it.

You got a gang problem in your bar? Every third song should be a female vocalist – they’ll be gone in three weeks – end of frickin’ discussion.

You got a gang problem in your bar? Every third song should be a female vocalist – they’ll be gone in three weeks – end of frickin’ discussion. That’s the power of music. Content swings; for example, a DJ thinks he’s doing great, man, he goes into a hip-hop set for an hour and a half, the dance floor stays packed – I don’t make any money off the frickin’ dance floor. I make money when the cash registers ring.

Every 15 minutes a DJ, to be effective, he must make a left hand turn. That left hand turn must be a shift in music type to the point that one audience that likes one type of music walks off the dance floor as the other type walks on. That left turn causes a surge at the cash register that will make my night successful. DJs have to learn that their job is not to play to dance floors but to play to rooms; their job is to move people on and off the floor – not keep them on the floor all night long.

You’ve talked about the power of music. Is there any truth to the rumor thatBar Rescue is set to go on hiatus so you can get back together with Hollywood Joe and tour the world?

I can’t believe you just said that – that’s a funny thing. There are some tapes and videos out there – somewhere! And I keep in touch with Joey to this day. He’s now in his 60s but son-of-a-gun, Joe is going to go down with a guitar in his hand trying until the last minute [laughs].

How long did you play?

I have a drum set in my office right now. I have a Marshall Mini Stack in my office with two guitars; one of those is a Hendrix guitar that I bought from off Buddy Miles [drummer in Band of Gypsys]. He got into some drug problems and it’s a matter of fact that he inherited a bunch of Jimi’s guitars and I bought one of them and it’s one of my prized possessions. I have a Roland V studio-quality drum set in my office, the finest electronic drum set you can buy, it has real heads on it – it’s not those rubber pad bullshit sets.

How often do you play? You’re just bored one day or you just need to clear your head and pick up the guitar or you sit behind the kit?

I tend to play the drums a lot more than guitar these days; because of Bar Rescue I travel and I really don’t get to play the guitar consistently, so I don’t have the callouses on my fingers anymore. Drums I play all the time. I’m heading out on the road next week for four weeks for Bar Rescue, so I’m gonna play my brains out the next couple days and get it out of my system so I don’t need a fix while I’m gone.

What sort of style are you into?

I’m a different kind of drummer. I’ll put on my headphones and I’ll play a George Benson set and the next album I play will be a Hendrix album. The next album I’ll play will be a nostalgic album and the next one I play will be a Broadway soundtrack album. I still like to keep my chops together, so I will play a Broadway side, a jazz side, a rock side – I’ll drop some Van Halen on.

Your playing covers various styles. Are your tastes in music just as eclectic?

I’m a purist. Candidly? And please excuse my language, I fucking hate produced music. I hate that people can sit in front of a computer – even DJs – they can take a very simple bridge and synthesize it and build a song around it with a computer program and no musicians involved. That bothers me. I believe that five guys should walk into a room and make music.

Do you get out and see a lot of shows?

I’m in Vegas and I’m well-connected so I get to see anyone I want. Black Sabbath is coming to town, so that’ll be fun. I’ll give you an idea of my tastes; I’ll go to a Jeff Beck concert in a minute, I’ll go to a Metallica concert if they’re in town. I’ll also go to a Beach Boys concert if they’re here.

Great music is great music. I’m extremely in awe of anyone that can build a big catalog of music with hooks that sells.

I know you’ve worked with Sammy Hagar before, but when it comes to Van Halen, are you a Dave guy or a Sammy guy?

[Laughs] Let me tell you a quick, funny story about when Sammy and the guys went down to Mexico and decided to open Cabo Wabo – this is years ago. They had left a titty bar and they watched a local drunk walk into a light pole and knock himself out. Sammy turns to Eddie and says, “That’s the Cabo Wabo!” and they have a big laugh. The next morning they wake up and decide they want to open this nightclub next to their favorite topless bar. They find a local architect [Marco Monroy] and tell them that they want a 12,000-square-foot nightclub. Being rockstars, they leave two days later and go on a 10 month tour.

They come back after the tour and the club is 12,000 square meters, which is 32,000 square feet – so this club is almost three times the size they expected. First year it loses one million dollars and is a huge frustration in the band. Sammy goes ahead and buys out Eddie and his brother and now he owns 100% of it and he gives half of it to the architect, Marco, and his wife, to run in Cabo.

Marco’s wife becomes promoted to the VP of tourism to the port of Cabo. The next morning, there are buses pulling up in front of Cabo Wabo from all the cruise ships to buy t-shirts, and suddenly they’re doing $50,000 to $60,000 a week in t-shirts when the month before the place was losing a million a year.

Sammy’s got the tequila going, he’s got the club going, he’s making all this money and he’s perceived as the coolest guy in Van Halen, and the Van Halen brothers have none of this.

Now the Van Halen brothers are out, Sammy owns the place, it becomes successful. Marco comes up with the idea to make a Cabo Wabo tequila, they move 140,000 cases a year in sales and Sammy later sells it for, give or take, $80 million. All this is going on while the band had broken up over, what I believe, Cabo Wabo. Sammy’s got the tequila going, he’s got the club going, he’s making all this money and he’s perceived as the coolest guy in Van Halen, and the Van Halen brothers have none of this.

Eight years later, the band gets back together with Sammy for a summer tour. At this time, I’m working with Sammy on a Cabo Wabo New Orleans. In the contract that Sammy signed to go on tour with Van Halen, it said specifically that he’s not allowed to say Cabo Wabo, wear Cabo Wabo shirts, do anything with Cabo Wabo onstage whatsoever.

He signs the contract.

Next day, Sammy goes out and gets the biggest fucking Cabo Wabo tattoo on his arm he can possibly get. Every promo picture has Cabo Wabo in it. Halfway through a planned world tour they were ready to frickin’ kill each other and they [didn’t go overseas].

The theory is that Sammy hoodwinked the Van Halen brothers, had a plan to buy them out while the club was doing poorly and then turn it around and make all the profit for himself.

The theory is that Sammy hoodwinked the Van Halen brothers, had a plan to buy them out while the club was doing poorly and then turn it around and make all the profit for himself.Can I be honest with you? I know Sammy Hagar – he’s not that smart. It didn’t happen that way. They opened the place – it failed. They wanted out, Sammy bought them out. The cruise ships started showing up; that’s the side of the story I believe. And Sammy’s not a bad guy – I’m not suggesting he is – Sammy Hagar did not wake up one morning and decide to fuck the Van Halen brothers.

Can I be honest with you? I know Sammy Hagar – he’s not that smart. It didn’t happen that way. They opened the place – it failed. They wanted out, Sammy bought them out. The cruise ships started showing up; that’s the side of the story I believe. And Sammy’s not a bad guy – I’m not suggesting he is – Sammy Hagar did not wake up one morning and decide to fuck the Van Halen brothers.

However! That said… I gotta go with Diamond Dave.

I’m right there with ya.

When I used to run the Troubadour, Diamond Dave used to come hang out and I remember a lot of wild Diamond Dave nights that I won’t get into. There were some amazing stories at the Troubadour and he was involved in quite a few of them, actually [laughs].

Tune in to Spike TV this Sunday, September 1 for its annual Bar Rescue marathon starting at 11am and running past midnight.

Written by: Michael Christopher in Spotlight