Spike TV has been known for some pretty silly programming and a deteriorating lineup of shows. However, the numbers show that the cable network has found a real gem with their new series “Bar Rescue” starring Jon Taffer and his rotating gang of industry experts.
Through my own experience in the industry, I have seen a lot. I am never shocked to see the condition of these bars and restaurants. Reality television is still here, sometimes relevant, but how much is really staged by the producers. From my bar and restaurant experience and after viewing all of the episodes to this point, “Bar Rescue” and host Jon Taffer, are the real deal.
My interview with Jon is from a bar and restaurant back ground, not like the same cookie cutter media that makes Jon repeat the same information over again, enjoy.
Q. Jon, out of every 10 restaurants or bars in the industry how many are really like the ones participating in the show?
That is a great question and nobody else has really asked that question. So my compliments, its different in that I am not cheap, somebody of my experience and caliber, my time is not cheap. Travel and expenses it gets expensive to get Jon Taffer to come to an operation. So the unique difference is that these operations typically could never afford me candidly. They are afforded an opportunity of not only my time and work, but also in the work we do to the interior and it is almost like a gift from the heavens. I don’t know how else these people would end up with this any other way, frankly. That is the difference, because the clients are typically a little more desperate than in the real world, because with “Bar Rescue” they are totally broke in most cases. Whereas the clients that typically hire me are close to broke, but at least they have enough money to get me there.
Q. What we see on the show is Jon Taffer the intense professional. What is Jon like outside of the business? How about a fun question. What was the last song you downloaded to your iPad?
I think the last batch of downloads was actually a English collection of Hendricks tunes. I remember seeing Jimmy four times when I was younger so that was particularly fun to download.
I have to tell you I am sitting in my office and to my left is an electronic drum set – studio quality – a marshal mini stack and next to that two guitars, so I love music. Sometimes in the middle of my day I get behind my drum set, I put on my headphones, play some drums or a little guitar to take a break and then just sit back down to my desk. Music is a huge part of my life.
Q. Jon you rely on your wife Nicole for recon and input on numerous episodes. Which episodes do you think she enjoyed the most or the least?
That question couldn’t be more timely, because the episode this Sunday (episode 9) happens to be that one. In all the years Nicole has done this for me, she has never been touched by somebody when she didn’t want to be. She has never had anyone physically get her upset and have her walk out of the bar upset and that happens in the episode. It is a memorable episode but not in a good way, I never have put my wife in a situation where people before have touched her, and you will see that in the episode, it is pretty darn intense.
Q. Have you ever had a client just flat out say, no?
Actually, episode ten, which is the last episode we air. I do not want to tell you too much and ruin it for you, but I got up and walked out. The production crew was freaking out and the owners of the place eventually changed their minds.
I don’t hear I don’t want your help too often. Maybe a couple of times someone did not agree with the strategy or direction I was going and I have stepped aside. But I have resigned from clients five or six times over the years. I do not like getting involved in something that’s going to fail. As a consultant, I am only as good as my last one.
Q. Talking about the cameras before the recon, how much notice does the staff have that you are coming into the bar?
What happens is our crew arrives and we are on location for about six days. So the cameras arrive about 24 hours before myself or the recon crew. They are following employees around, customers that walk in, so they are not really sure who we are but by the time we arrive there has probably been 100 people the camera has followed. It is important that the employees get comfortable around the cameras before we get there and surprisingly they do believe it or not. I was surprised, because this was my first season and as an executive producer of the show, I get an opportunity to be involved in all aspects of it.
Q. You are from New York, so seemingly an obvious place to start next season. Are there any other places?
The best part about Bar Rescue is great story telling. We are not specifically looking for a location or style of bar, but whether the story is going to be engaging or not. We found that people were not requesting that we go somewhere but requesting that we do a country bar, nightclub, or an old down and dirty, Rock ‘n’ Roll bar.
Q. What we see on the show is Jon Taffer the intense professional. What is Jon like outside of the business? How about a fun question. What would we find in your DVD collection?
I love comedies and to pick one of my favorites of all time, I love the Big Lebowski. I am a huge fan of the Dude and coming up in Hollywood as a musician. I saw a lot of people who were like the Dude. I also enjoy many Sci-Fi flicks and you know just fun movies.
Q. There are two episodes of “Bar Rescue” left, what is on ‘the burner’ for Jon Taffer and Bar Recue?
Well for Bar Rescue there are some announcements that will be made in the next week or so and I think you will be pleased to hear the news. I cannot say what they are yet, other than they will be good announcements.
For me I am also the president of the Nightclub and Bar Convention in Las Vegas we put on a trade show every year in March. It is like a big party, from product tasting, industry forums, introductions to new products from bars and nightclubs across the country. There is about 40,000 of us going crazy for a couple of days.
We are also doing our first ever Bar Rescue tour, done by Night Club and Bar Media Group. Myself, Brian Duffy and Michael Tipps we put on a 5-hour intense program for bar owners and operators who want to figure out how to make more money. We will be in Philadelphia, Chicago and Long Beach, California. We are excited about that.
About Bar Rescue
Bars mean money, but they also mean stress if they aren’t properly run. Jon Taffer is a bar and nightclub owner who has started, flipped, or owned over 600 bars and clubs in his career and currently owns one of the most highly respected consulting firms in the bar and nightclub industry. Jon will travel around the country and employ his expertise to return struggling bars to the cash cows they once were. Everything from the science of the perfect pour, to the height of the bar stools is a key factor in making a bar the hottest place in town.
“Bar Recue” airs every Sunday at 10/9c on Spike TV.
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Do you have a new club or bar, creating a new drink trend, new product, or nightlife spot you want covered? Email [email protected]