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‘Bar Rescue’ transforms Bryant’s Ice House to The Wildcatter Saloon

Bar Rescue came to Katy, Texas
Bar Rescue came to Katy, Texas
With permission of Spike TV

On tonight's Spike episode of “Bar Rescue,” creator Jon Taffer visited Bryant’s Ice House in Katy, Texas on this episode titled, “Taxed Out in Texas.”

In 2012, Jeff Simon left his family accounting business after 31 years, when the opportunity to own a bar came up. He put in $1,100,000 to follow his dream of owning a bar. It was a biker bar with a bad reputation; he kept the name and attempted to clean it up, in hope that people would come there. However, by keeping the name, the rowdy crowd continued to stay and with the location on a dimly lit road, it was not inviting to those who might stop by. Externally, there are problems, but not compared to the ones inside. His unruly staff is beyond his control, and he lets them walk all over him. Customers tired of the fighting and aggression, walk out the door. The bartenders pad the tab, and when questioned, they scream at them.

Jeff has already lost his home and has moved in with his girlfriend Shelly, a server in the bar. Now his over a million-dollar debt is crippling him, as the bar loses $6,000 a month, he agreed to make a call for help to "Bar Rescue."

As Jon is driving to the place with mixologist Russell Davis, they are having a hard time even finding the bar. When Russell called for directions, he found that he was not the only one who needed directions to find this place. When they finally arrived, there was a huge statue of a chicken outside the parking lot. Jon was not sure it was a chicken farm or a meth lab they were going to find.

Jon and Russell observed the goings on and spotted a bartender drinking behind the bar. Two women from the area were doing the recon for Jon. They ordered a cosmopolitan and a margarita; the cosmopolitan looked like a jar of strawberry jam and tasted horrible. They ordered food, which was made in a food truck Jeff purchased outside the building. From the looks of it, the truck was clean and the cook knew what he was doing. However, everything he made was frozen, and he brought the food in himself. If food is being cooked for other orders, it could easily burn while he delivers food.

While the women did not like the food, Randy, a maintenance man who lives on the property came by to speak to them. He excused himself because he just farted, but was visibly drunk. Then he said something very disturbing to them about their breasts, and the women left. Jon stated, he was the most dangerous person in the bar. Suddenly, two female bartenders started fighting behind the bar and squirted the other with the soda gun. As Jon was appalled by these actions, he went in right then and there. He went to Jeff and asked to talk in the corner. He told Jeff what he witnessed, and told him to close the bar and call the staff together. He told Jeff that his future started right now.

When Jon met with the staff, he told them that he was watching them all night. He asked Randy what he did there, and was told it was maintenance and security. He could hardly speak coherently, but Jeff stuck up for him, stating that he did security at night and was very good. Jon was shocked that he could possibly do security, when he could barely stand. The bartenders confirmed that Randy was drunk every day and had caused women to leave the bar often. When he heard them say this, Randy shouted expletives at the women. Jon insisted he apologize, but he only got more belligerent. Finally, Randy told Jeff, he was done with this place and left, still yelling expletives at the staff telling them what they could do and where they could go. When Jon left, after advising them of what will go on tomorrow, Jeff told his staff that he was about to lose everything. Jon promised to toughen him up and work with him.

The next morning, Jon wanted the employees to realize how out of line their behavior was. Randy was in attendance too, he said he loved Jeff and wanted to help the bar stay open. He apologized for his behavior. Then Jon laid down they law; there will be no more drinking in the bar, ever, and Jeff agreed. As he went around to each employee, Kimmie was called out by Randy, who said she stole from him. She stated that she never stole anything from the bar, but Jon had proof that she did. She took a sweatshirt, put it on and left the bar. When Jeff told her she was fired, she called him outside and plead for her job, but Jeff had to bring Shelly out to drop the hammer, as he did not have the balls to do it.

Jon then brought in Eric Regan, the best food truck operator in the country, and Russell Davis, his expert mixologist to work on the bartenders. In the food truck, Eric found that everything was frozen, making cooking times longer, and food less tasty. When Jon had a heart-to-heart talk with Jeff, he made him realize how his lack of management put the place in the predicament it was in.

The night of the stress test, brought in a massive crowd, Missy was failing miserably, and the patrons could see she did not know what she was doing. Jon heard complaints about the long wait for food, and went out to the truck, there were tickets lined up and Jon had a fit. The cook was not dropping food as the orders came in, and it held up orders for over half an hour. Finally, nearly everyone left the bar to go elsewhere; it was a catastrophic failure. Jon asked Jeff, who the worst employee was; and he knew Missy had to go. It took a lot for Jeff to say it, but he had to let her go. Nadya was the only one who came through, and Jon made her head bartender.

Jon met with his chef and mixologist to bring in a concept to the bar that would work. Factoring in the 13,000 people who work in the area, they decided to go for a working man’s bar theme. The next day, there were some new faces, a bartender and a server, and the daylong training began, in the bar and food truck. Randy reported to Jon, as promised, ready to help with the carpentry and any other work his reconstruction team needed. He was in for the 36 hours it was necessary to complete the job. Jon showed Jeff and Randy that the reconstruction would start down the road, leading people to the place, so it would be easy to find.

The new name was now Jeff’s dream come true, The Wildcatter Saloon, no more Bryant’s, because Bryant’s was someone else’s dream, not his. A wildcatter is an oil worker, and there are many in Texas. Now this bar has a theme, an attraction to the working men and women in the oil fields and those who live in and around the area. The signage will allow people to find the place, and have great food and drinks. The place went from a catastrophic failure to a complete turnaround. The opening night was a total success and food and drinks were flowing just fine.

Six weeks, after the relaunch, the food and beverage sales were up 35%, as head bartender, Nadya has hired two additional staff members, and Jeff has taken on a new leadership role as an owner, thanks to Jon and his staff at "Bar Rescue."

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