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‘Bar Rescue’ digs up ‘The Lost Episode’ on Spike

The Lost Episode of Bar Rescue brings Jon Taffer to New Jersey
The Lost Episode of Bar Rescue brings Jon Taffer to New Jersey
"Photo courtesy of Spike, used with permission”

On tonight's special Spike episode of “Bar Rescue,” creator Jon Taffer visited his first ever episode. In 2000, Jeff purchased an abandoned building and started the South Park Bar & Grill.

After an early successful run, Jeff could not keep his temper in check, and started flying off the handle at employees and customers. After time, his staff was fired or they quit. After losing the only three managers, Jeff was left to fend for himself. In time, under his management, the place was dirty, they were out of just about everything, and the taps were dry for weeks at a time. After losing $228,000 a year, and before hanging the out of business sign, he made a call to “Bar Rescue.”

Every bar needs two things to be successful; people and money. Montclair, N.J. has both, with a population of 38,000 and median income of $96,000, the South Park Bar & Grill lies on the busiest corner of town, but the dated interior and sparse offerings, has Montclair residents taking their business elsewhere.

Jon sent his beautiful wife, Nicole in to do the recon. She ordered a raspberry vodka with orange juice, but got an old fashioned screwdriver. Jeff was overseeing one of the waitresses, and Nicole asked if he was the manager, and told he was the owner. When her food arrived, it was not at all what she expected, then someone turned on the ceiling fan and dust came down all over her, her food and her drink!

When Nicole reported to Jon what she found, it was time for him to go to work. Jon found Jeff sitting listlessly in a booth. They went into his office to talk. Jeff seemed to have no enthusiasm about the place, and Jon told him he could not do this unless he followed through. Then Jon got the scoop about how he was doing $40,000 a week when they first opened. Jon asked him if he drank today? He replied that he had a drink, then he asked what would he do if his manager drank on the job, and he said that was a no-no. Jon then told him that he was the manager. Jon then told him that he would control the business for the next four days, and he cannot drink. He wanted the bar shut down, an employee meeting and would speak to each of them. However, Jon does not feel that Jeff is all in.

Jon asked the staff what was wrong with the place, and they gave him the cold hard facts. Jeff sucked at managing. When one bartender who was disgruntled, he told her to get out. Jon stepped in to keep her there, and told everyone to go home and he would see them in the morning.

The next morning, Jon told Jeff that he had to treat his employees better. Then he pointed out the dirt in the place, and the filthy bathrooms; especially the ladies’ room. Jon pointed out how important the bathroom is in keeping women in his bar.

Then he looked at the profit and loss statement, and pointed out the percentages needed to make a profit. If occupancy cost is more than 10% of revenue, labor cost is more than 28% of revenue, beverage cost cannot be more than 21% or they will never make any profit. Jon knew by his attitude that Jeff did not want to hear his sermon, but he must be clued in or he will continue to fail. Jon wants to elevate this place to the marketplace it is in. He wants to create a New York style experience in Montclair, but it seemed like all of Jon’s words fell on deaf ears.

That day, he gathered the staff and told them they had to clean, and show that they had pride in the place. Then Jon sent in mixology expert, Scott Ford, who saw that the bar lacked organization. When he asked if they had any questions, they all blankly stared at him. They did not pour the right amount of alcohol, so Scott will fix that problem.

For the kitchen, he brought in chef Josh Capon to fix the problems in the kitchen. Immediately, he saw that the menu was too large, so he trimmed it down to a reasonable size to make the winners and eliminate the losers. When Josh looked in the walk-in, nothing was labeled or dated. Then Josh worked with Freddie, the cook to help make appealing food.

When the night arrived for the stress test, Jeff stood around with a stern face. Jon told him to smile and walk around and smiles came easier. But when a patron lit a cigarette, Jeff became the bouncer and threw the guy out with a vengeance. He did not appreciate when Jon told him that he should have handled it differently. When Jon tried to speak with Jeff, his attitude left much to be desired and Jon walked out.

Jon knows that the place could be a gold mine once again. When Jon spoke to Toniann, the best bartender, he told her his concept and offered her the managerial job. When he told Jeff, he took, off and did not return, but Jon and his staff continued to train and the attitude was very uplifted. When Jeff returned, he was more agreeable.

When the renovations were completed, the name was now V Bar, a vodka bar, with premium drinks and a cool modern setting. Jeff even seemed happy, and the rest of the staff was too. The large crowd outside was anxious to check it out. The food and drinks were amazing and the place was jumping.

Two months after Jon left V Bar, they saw a profit of 30%, but six months later, Jeff thought he knew better, and changed the concept. He changed V Bar into Park Sports Bar & Restaurant. The new name and bar did not generate the profits the way V Bar did, so in October 2012, Jeff closed the bar for good. Currently, the space is occupied by a bank and Jon knows you can lead a horse to vodka, but you can’t make him drink on this lost episode of "Bar Rescue."