Bar Rescue: always being right is never as easy as it looks

[Cache – #84]

twitter kudos from bar rescue's jon gaffer

We all like to be right, preferably all the time.

But all too often we are wrong.  We make mistakes.  We misunderstand a set of facts or jump to conclusions.  For a period of time ranging from a few moments to a lifetime, we might feel smug, self-satisfied or downright sanctimonious – but sooner or later, our errors are revealed.

Jon Taffer, however, doesn’t seem to have this problem.  He is right every time without fail, and because he consults to people who are wrong every time without fail, he gets to jump up and down and yell and scream without shame to convert his clients to his point of view.  But the reason Jon is always right is that he gets second takes.

Jon is the star of a show called Bar Rescue, now in its second season on Spike TV.  Think of it as Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares for bars, except Taffer is even louder and meaner than Gordon Ramsay.  Yes, I know that sounds impossible.  But the show usually ends with handshakes and hugs, because Taffer transforms these bars from dumps into, as he puts it, “money machines.”

Get a sneak peek of Jon in action here.

Often these transformations involve renaming the establishment.  Most of the time, Jon gets it right.  He renamed a bar called Swanky Bubbles (a goofy name) to Sheer (a sexy name).  He renamed J.A. Murphy’s, in which the J.A. was said to stand for the “jack ass” behaviour of the owner, to Murphy’s Law – an admission by that owner that he’d made mistakes and was owning up to them.  Mystique, a bar traumatized by a murder, was given new life as Aura, a name with positive and safe connotations.

The spectacle of Taffer’s unshakable conviction that he’s right is awesome entertainment.  Yet his renaming of the laughable Piratz Tavern, wherein the staff dressed as pirates, to Corporate Bar and Grill was not only too much of a leap for the owner to make, but sounds extremely boring to the corporate clientele they were hoping to attract.  Another miss was changing the Chicken Bone to simply The Bone, taking the moniker from simply unappetizing to downright disgusting.

As much as I admire Jon Taffer’s talent and conviction, on occasion even he could use more than two takes.  The reality of this reality show is that naming – especially renaming, with the emotional baggage it brings – takes a lot longer than 60 minutes once a week.

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17 Responses to Bar Rescue: always being right is never as easy as it looks

  1. Ann says:

    What is the point of this? Do you have evidence the bar names were better off before?

    • Coin says:

      Hi Ann,
      Thank you for your comment. Are you referring to the Chicken Bone and Piratz Tavern? I am not saying that Chicken Bone is a good name, not at all. It was an unattractive name, but The Bone is even less attractive. With respect to Piratz Tavern, it was a great name for a pirate bar. But the rescue of the bar was all about turning it into a hotspot for the corporate crowd, hence the name Corporate, which I think is an unimaginative name that makes the place sound dull and unattractive to the people it is targeting.

      • Ann says:

        John makes decisions based on the demographics of the neighborhood and city not the whims of the already stupid owners. Not saying Corporate was the BEST name, but obviously the pirate bar was not working. They pirate people seemed to think that because SOME people liked it, it was working. Obviously when you are in debt and that much in debt, with no systems in place like that bar had, then your concept isn’t working.

        Your article has no substance.

        • Coin says:

          Ann, my interpretation of your latest comment is that you think I think the pirate bar concept should have been retained. But if you look at my blogpost again, I expect you’ll see that I thought the pirate bar concept wasn’t working. What I disagree with is the name chosen: Corporate. You say that Corporate wasn’t the “BEST” name, so we seem to agree on that point: I agree with you that it’s not the best name.

    • Rich Unger says:

      First, regarding Mr Taffer’s attacks on me personally, that is typical of his bipolar mentality. He attacks anyone and everyone with his F this F that, and in your face remarks of destruction of your personality, your performance behind the bar and your attitude in general.
      I will set the record straight, Jon was retained to take the largest nightclub complex in Northwest United States and “RESCUE” it, instead he “RETREATED IT into almost oblivion”. I was asked by the Owner of this massive complex to REINVENT, REVAMP, and REPOSITION this multi themed Venue, because the concepts that Jon came up totally failed.
      A Steakhouse bombed.
      A Sports Bar lost every game.
      I will not call him names as he did me, I am in this industry far longer than he is, and have no inclination to do a “Fake Reality Show” on bars.
      I have never ever been envious of a F this F that, screaming lunatic nor do I bottom Feed.
      I have asked Jon to refrain from using the F word in this third season because with his Wife, his Daughter, and with female staff, patrons it is very lacking in character and Jon should be able to make his points without the drama queen “F” word every sentence.
      I have also asked Jon not to simply leave these establishments with no direction, no Strategies, no Game Plan, no Marketing Paths, he rarely addresses the power of the Internet which is paramount for every bar and club.
      He never sets a dress code.
      With many, many, of his so called “Rescues”, he does not institute a cover charge for the live bands, when he places the burden of the cost of the live entertainment directly on the bar, which makes no sense.
      He inserts the product placement but often the placement is not applicable to the establishment he is rescuing.
      With all that said, I will take his remarks with a grain of sand, I have challenged him for ten years to hold a “PROMOTIONS SHOWDOWN” at the NC&B Show in Vegas and he has refused. I do not need to ride in a long stretch limo or go through a stress test with clubs and bars, when the employees are hardly ready for such a challenge, but it makes for good TV.
      His sending someone in at the beginning of “BAR RESCUE” makes no sense, because he already has cameras hidden in the entire establishment.
      I wish him well.
      Rich Unger

  2. Jason says:

    When I saw the pirate episode, I also thought “Corporate” was a bad name. My idea for a much better name? The Headquarters.

    • Coin says:

      The Headquarters – interesting thought. Slight off-topic: I was really touched by that guy with one eye. Being a pirate – being able to wear that patch – was incredibly important to him. Fascinating.

      • susan says:

        I agree about the guy w/ the eye patch. One could see that the cognitive dissonance that Jon Taffer has to deal with and overcome is seemingly a lot worse for someone who has such a strong reason for their attachment. So I was *more* surprised by the owner. Yes, I agree that changing the name to Corporate was not only lame, but chose the path of most resistance in dealing w/ a woman whose sense of self had this built-in protection of her sense of whimsy, I think a name like Corporate was asking for her to go too far to overcome that perception. But no doubt about it, she was shooting herself in the foot by not being more amenable to adapting Jon’s research-backed advice & plan. It was the one time I felt bad for Jon that it was just such a waste, as never had I seen anyone more intent on causing themselves to fail. It really seemed like in her mind, it was HER sandbox and lost sight of it needing to attract other people to feel at home at. It also seemed that usually? I was rooting for most businesses to succeed, if not at first, at least by the ending. Her? She never generated that from me. In fact I really hoped she would fail, if only to proof Jon right. Now I admit, that’s almost as irrational as she is, but not quite.

        • Coin says:

          Hi Susan – thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I agree absolutely with your point that Jon took a huge, and seemingly unnecessary – risk with the name Corporate. And I have to admit that a part of me wants the owner to fail, because she is so incredibly misguided and self-destructive – but ultimately because complete failure may be the only way for her to realize that Jon’s approach was right. Even then, unfortunately there are people who on a subconscious level want to fail – and thus this particular owner may be beyond rescue.

  3. Justme says:

    Love Jon. Love the show, much needed…(employees should watch too-doubtful they will “identify” with themselves but worth making them watch), Although we feel that the Pirate Place was “too” drastic a change. Should have allowed them to keep a smidgen of their identity, maybe a nautical theme – they could have fun with that (you know “pirate”/corporate raiders), their pirate personas once were the entertainment, could have been still to some degree if done right, that’s what gave them their mo-jo and why she changed it back… working in a “corporate” world, we sometimes need to “escape” not be surrounded by the same stuffysnobbystiffnesspoliticallycorrectness we endure all day then have to put up with it during lunch and after work too… sometimes we need to swing from a yardarm.

    • Coin says:

      Thanks Justme. I too think that a smidgen of the Piratz identity could have been kept, aligned with the creative thoughts you have above. I can understand how Jon wanted to utterly obliterate the staff’s reliance on the pirate theme, though. Perhaps his calculation was to weigh the benefit to employee morale of keeping some measure of the theme – against the benefits to be had by signalling as clearly as possible that the pirates theme wasn’t working and we are now moving on. Thanks again for your comment.

  4. Lisa says:

    I will have to respectfully disagree with your opinion on Jon’s name change for Piratz. He specifically noted that for that area, marketing suggested that sales would be more during the lunch hour since people go home after work. Corporate people have a standard for dining. What he provided in the Corporate Bar and Grill was perhaps the most appealing transformation to me. The before on that place was a dump. What he did with that outside patio was stunning.

    • Coin says:

      Hi Lisa – thank you very much for your comment. I think I understand your point of view, which is that Corporate is a name that does the job of communicating to corporate workers that this place is for them. I wholeheartedly support this naming approach – of clearly conveying to the target market that the brand in question is for them. Yet I maintain that there are more compelling ways to express the “we are for the corporate crowd” message than calling the place “Corporate.” As an example, I look at a communicative name like Zipcar, ( which you may be familiar with, and ask myself if it would be more effective with the name “Get a Car Fast”. My opinion is no: I think that such a name would be aiming low in terms of what we can say to the target, and I think the same of Corporate. I would like to hear your feedback on this reasoning – does it make sense to you? Thanks again – Andris.

  5. Mark says:

    I myself think that Piratz should have changed to “Nooners”. We all need that break from the “corporate” world for a period during the day and what better time than Noon? A designated lunch time. If I remember correctly, Johns demographic survey said several thousand people come to the area in the morning and at approximately 5pm they leave to go home leaving the area desolate. Fridays maybe different where as people end the week with a social event before the start of the weekend. I could be wrong but that’s why John does this and I don’t.

    • Coin says:

      Hi Mark – thanks for your comment. I like that you’ve introduced some humour to the discussion, as cheeky names can be very memorable and inspiring (I’m not sure what “nooner” means where you’re from, but from my neck of the woods, there is a certain connotation that would have people talking). Thanks again – Andris.

  6. Rich Unger says:

    I am a 40 year Nightclub Consultant, I REVAMP, REMAKE, REINVENT, REFORMAT, REPOSITION, REFRESH Nightclubs, Bars, Lounges, Restaurants, Sports Bars, Bar and Grills all over the US and the World.
    I never ever set foot in any of them.
    That’s right.
    As for “Power Plant”
    Let me give you a quick “Shout Out”, every bar that Mr Taffer enters, he curses at the Owner, yells @ the staff, and creates a scene in front of the customers.
    Mr Taffer does not embrace problems, he embraces solutions, but getting to the solution requires a total confrontation, and embarassment, humiliation and emotional stress, all for the sake of TV Cameras rolling.
    Mr Taffer goes up to the Owner’s Brother in Law who is half if not fully drunk and confronts him about hugging every female customer seated @ the bar, WRONG. You don’t confront a drunk. So the cursing goes on, the camera rolls, the producer splices the tape and the man is next escorted out by someone. The Bar Staff is stealing, over pouring, giving away $2200 in one weekend and Taffer is going to keep the staff???????????????????????????? You don’t need Bevinco to tell you what’s going on you have it on video.
    You don’t need to send your daughter into that dangerous bar, you have it on video already.
    The remodel and name change do not fit the premise of that eetablishment’s past history. The fact you did not institute a cover charge is insane in the brain, the fact you let 1 door person wear a long sleeve tshirt with a crowd outside for the opening makes no sense. “Green Lantern”, the DJ nice enough, good enough he is who you brought in to train a DJ who has no grasp of EDM, BPM or dubstep? A New Club DJ should have been brought in, so that the Green Lantern could return to his gig.
    The Bar Trainer had a foul mouth and also was spoken to by bar staff who had a foul mouth.
    The entire show is not worthy of even cable tv.
    Why advertisers are running spots is Owners and employees of other places are watching, cracking up and kissing the ground it’s not them on tv.
    If Mr Taffer had so many places that wanted to go through “TAFFER TERROR”, Spike TV would not have a crawl running at the bottom of the screen during the show asking other bars to contact Bar Rescue to be on the show.
    Mr Taffer must, I am begging him to wear new jeans a new shirt and a new blazer, same outfit every single show. As long as he does not wear “Skinny Jeans”.
    Why send his WIFE IN as a Recon Specialist, or his daughter, two lovely ladies, when he has it all on video already??????
    Oh, I see it’s part of the basic format of the show.
    Here is a my problems with this so called “bar rescue”:
    A. Bar Staff should of been replaced

    B. Doorman looked like a slob

    C. No Cocktail Servers

    D. NO Dance Floor Fun

    E. DJ totally not ready for prime time

    F. Never give a dj a wired mic, should always be wireless

    G. What was the cover charge?

    H. Where were the avenues of income that Taffer created?

    I. The outfits the staff did wear, AWFUL

    Ok, you have a great site, take care,

    Rich Unger

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