This show is hands down my favorite reality show on TV right now. Jon Taffer is awesome. He’s considered a “nightlife expert” with 30 year’s experience for taking bars that are money pits and turning them into money makers. If you ever get the chance to watch Bar Rescue marathons on Spike TV, do it!
Cirivello’s is a struggling restaurant/bar. The owners are $375K in debt. The bar is located Long Beach, CA which has a median income of $85,000. After purchasing the bar that was a neighborhood staple for 35 years, the place is falling apart. The owners have only four months until they will be forced to close their doors. There are four owners: Danny is the GM who owns 40% with an investment of $110K. His investors are Justin, Justin’s mom, Val, and Marcus who own a combined 60%, each ponying up $50K. Cirivello’s is losing $15K per month. I’ve gotta say, what were you thinking Justin?! Your mom put in her entire retirement savings into this. If this fails, she’s moving in with you. Bring on Jon Taffer who hopefully can save this bar and Val’s retirement.
Jon sends his wife Nicole and her friend Ashley in as his spies. John and his bar and food experts sit in the car and watch the fallout. Cameras have been placed throughout the business so you would think everyone would be on their best behavior, but apparently they all suffer from short term memory loss and forgot the cameras are there because the four owners are just sitting around. The “spies” ask for Old Fashioned’s and hate them. They reorder and still don’t like them. Owner, Danny, recognizes Nicole. She admits who she is and through her earpiece, orders one of everything on the food menu, per Jon’s instructions. Does Danny stay to help the chef? Hell no. As the food comes out, everything is greasier that an oil slick in the Gulf. Nicole says, “Prison food is probably better.”
Meanwhile, the kitchen is flooding because while trying to defrost some food in the sink, one of the cooks left the water running. Jon is pissed. He stops watching from his car and storms in. But he can’t find the owners. The silent partners walk up and say they are willing to help, if only they knew what to do because apparently no one has ever worked in the restaurant industry before sinking all their money into one. Jon goes off on the main owner Danny, and this is my fav part, but I’m worried he’s about to have an aneurism. Jon recommends to the partners to contemplate a hostile takeover because their lazy GM is flushing their money down the drain, unlike the water in the kitchen.
When Danny laughs this really sets Jon off. He screams, “You’re an irresponsible asshole and my wife probably got sick because of you!” Jon pushes the food items off the table, onto the floor and tells Danny to clean up the mess. Danny walks out, gets in his car and drives off, leaving the silent partners clean up. Finally, they get to help. The partners are shocked that Danny couldn’t man-the eff-up and admit he was wrong. But then he’d have to admit he has no business being the GM.
The following day they start over with hello’s. The owners each say how disappointed they were that Danny walked out. Danny said he was so angry, he thought it best he left. Honestly, what could he do? Jon could have taken him in two seconds. Jon mentions again the hostile takeover and recommends the three owners start asserting their combined power. Jon wants to know what’s up with the all the foamy beer on tap. The problem is the beer line is 137 feet long. Seriously? Get this, the foam can fill five pitchers before actual beer starts to flow. When Val tries to defend Danny for “trying really hard” Jon yells at her. The buck stops with Danny and this buck is dropping dead and bleeding all over the place.
Here to help is Lisa Marie Joyce the awesome and award-winning bartender who tries to teach the importance of consistency. She shows the bartenders the proper way to make an Old Fashioned. The key word is: muddle. You do not stir this drink with a straw people.
In the kitchen, professional chef, Brendan Collins, tells Jon the cooks aren’t terrible, they’re just ignorant as how to run a kitchen. Brendan suggests less bar food, more restaurant food. Again, the key word is consistency. He teaches the crew how to properly cook a steak. Sigh. This is something kids in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas learn by age 10.
The Stress Test
If you write in to be on this show, it’s because your bar sucks. Add to that 100 people entering the establishment all at once ordering all at once for the stress test. You are clearly set up to fail, but it’s fun to watch people under this pressure cooker. Danny is standing around looking busy doing nothing. Lisa Marie has to tell him to do something like deliver food and drinks. Lisa Marie thinks the bartenders are doing great, if you don’t mind a dirty glass with lipstick stains.
And the kitchen is struggling, too. The food is taking forever to cook and being delivered to the wrong tables. The three owners are trying to help, but essentially are getting in the way. Then Jon yells to all the customers that the beer sucks due to the foam. Other than that, things are not great. Lisa Marie and Brendan both agree the owners are all trying, but failing miserably. Jon finally shuts this stress test down.
Because the bar is so big, Jon schedules retraining off-site due to the extensive remodel. Did I mention how lucky these owners are to have Jon in their lives? Lisa Marie retrains the bartenders to make specialty drinks with bourbon because that’s what the demographics say the neighborhood likes. Chef Brendan wants to modernize the menu and uses bourbon because, by now you can tell, this episode is brought to you by bourbon.
Jon has a sit down with Danny to explain his kick in the Danny-fanny. It worked and Danny’s faith is renewed and the three owners learn they need to pitch in more and work as a team.
A lot of times during this part people act like they like the new bar when they really don’t. They are caught up in the sentimentality of their failing bar. (Please see the episode about the Pirate Bar.) The bar is now called: The Aging Room at Cirivello’s. And the owners and staff seem to really like it. Thank gooness it’s not called The Tasting Room. Can I get an amen? Doesn’t every city have two of these already? And now there’s much better lighting. The colors in the bar are rich with oak and leather. There are bourbon barrels on the wall. A room upstairs that I didn’t know existed. And best part, Jon cut the beer lines by 40 feet. Genius! But why didn’t the other
idiots owners come up with this plan.
The Happy Ending
Okay, it’s not that kind of place. So bring on stress test number 2. No foam in the beer. The drinks are pouring well. The kitchen is running under 12 minutes. And Danny is working is butt off. Jon says his work is done and the group hugs it out. Six weeks later, sales are up 20% and a new (classier) clientele is frequenting the place. Yay, Jon! You’re the man!