Bar Rescue

Episode 1

Don’t Tell Mom the Bar is Dead

Bar Rescue is back! Jon Taffer is visiting another drunk loser bar owner who needs his help. This time we are in Englewood, Colorado, to help Sean Al-Bawwab who runs State Pub. Sean is about to lose a very sweet deal – the bar was given to him with no money down, problem is, instead of running it like an owner, he runs it like a drunk patron. Sean drinks his profits and is on the hook for $35K. To make matters worse, he’s a mean drunk who is running off the customers and the staff. Even with his mommy’s help, Sean can’t get his shit together. He has five weeks to get the owner the $35K or he will lose everything. Jon Taffer to the rescue – maybe.

Outside, Jon and his posse crucify every inch of the bar. They watch as Sean drinks as he insults the customers. Jon sends two recons in to order. First thing wrong, the beer was served in a mason jar, not a snifter. They watch Sean as he takes out the trash, changes the paper towels in the bathroom, goes out back to smoke, sweating like a pig, never once stopping to wash his hands. Eww. Then Sean makes a cocktail but drops it. That must have been a bar angel. So Sean takes three shots to celebrate. The recons order food from the disaster area kitchen serving up Sloppy Joe’s mystery meat. I hope these guys don’t get sick.

Jon and his friends have had enough and go in to shut it down. Jon lets Sean have it for pissing this opportunity away, and not washing his hands. Jon is yelling and screaming and I’m worried he’s going to have an aneurysm. Jon closes down the kitchen. The moves out front to let his guest bartender take his turn yelling at Sean. Then Jon yells at Sean’s mom Pamela for paying his rent while all he does is drink on the job. Jon is especially insulted that this bar was given to Sean and he doesn’t know shit about the bar industry. Jon tells Pam to talk with her son because he will not help someone who acts like a fool while his mommy pays his bills.

During the talk, Sean cops to everything being a mess. Pamela still wants to rescue her son by saying he didn’t know how difficult it would be running a business, poor baby. Sean says he needs to make sure things are good with his one employee, Caitlyn, who hasn’t quit yet.

The following day, Jon meets Sean, Pamela, and Caitlyn. Jon tells Pamela she’s enabling her son’s failure. The most Sean has ever made per month is $18K but his breakeven is $20K. Jon tells Sean that there’s no way he’s going to be able to pay the $35K back. He’s in default and Sean is fucked. Jon tells him to face reality and call his landlord to tell him what’s up. Here’s the thing, Jon won’t do the upgrades if Sean doesn’t get an extension. The landlord agrees. Jon makes Sean promise his mom he will no longer drink on the job.

It’s training time. Sean makes some calls to try and find some staff. Two more show up but training is thwarted because of the disgusting condition of the bar. Instead, he shows them how to make a Tom Collins. It’s slow going for the bartenders who can’t remember the recipe or get the glasses unstuck. Let’s check on the kitchen and see how things are going. They are taught to use a pressure cooker for pulled pork over chips. Bring on the stress test!


The execution for the food is not going well and neither are the drinks. Some people have been waiting 30 minutes. And Sean is only getting in the way. The food is up but nobody is bringing it to the customers. The drinks are so slow because there’s only one POS station and the bartenders are so nervous, they’re making the drinks incorrectly so their trainer keeps dumping the drinks as the crowd groans in unison. Jon shuts down the stress test and makes Sean apologize for the mess. Instead Sean asks for applause for the staff. This pisses off Jon and he gets the crowd to boo at Sean. Sean gives his team a pep talk and they are still with him.

The gang meet up for beer training. Wearing blindfolds they have taste-testing on different beers. Fun fact: if it’s citrusy it’s most likely lager. Next, they are taught to make the Stop and Look Around Shandy. Who the hell orders this? They should be thrown out. In the kitchen, they are taught to make pork stew over homemade potato chips. Not what I think of as bar food, but whatever, at least it won’t kill the customers.

It’s time for the unveiling! On the count of three they turn around to see the new bar, outside in the rain. It’s no longer called State Bar and is now called Downstairs Bark and Kitchen. WTF? That’s not very catchy and you don’t go downstairs like they did on Cheers. But everyone else loves it. Everything is cleaned up, bright, with the color orange. Inside the place is wallpapered with what looks like Playboy magazine covers, some footballs across the bar, a green shag rug by the pool table. This will be a dude’s hang out – which is what they were going for – a man cave bar.

It’s time for stress test number two. Sean invites the customers to come on in. People are drinking, people are eating, and Sean isn’t drinking, so Jon considers this a success. The two men hug it out. Will Sean meet his deadline? Three months later revenue is up 25% and Sean is paying rent every month. The bar continues to employ a full staff. And Sean has kept his promise not to drink at work. No word if Sean’s mommy has stopped paying his bills.

RECAP Bar Rescue – Don’t Tell Mom the Bar is Dead – Episode 1
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