In 2003, siblings Mike and Diane Miller bought the bar with all their savings. Trying to keep it in the family, they hired their father Pops to manage the place. Attempting to keep the bar running successfully, they hired family members, that were less than qualified. Pops, being a no-nonsense type of person wanted to fire them, but Mike and Diane felt that they were family and wanted to give them more chances.
Now facing closing in no more than three months, and with $200,000 in debt, and Pops at the breaking point, the Millers have agreed to bring in Jon Taffer to save the bar and the family. As Jon sits in his car watching with mixologist, Phil Wills and no-nonsense chef Brendan Collins, owner of two restaurants in the Los Angeles area.
As they watched Robert, the cook, cut lemons on the same dirty cutting board that Diane just counted money on, then cut up raw chicken without even cleaning it. They observed Connie, Robert’s sister who is the security guard, licking the glass she was drinking from, while dressed like Minnie Mouse. When they saw Robert put a frozen burger on the grill, it was evident that he had no cooking skills. In the bar, they observed a man pull his pants down and when Pops tried to throw him out, Diane blocked him from doing it because he was having fun. Then they saw bartender Christine doing body shots across the bar. When Pops told Christine to go home, Diane intervened, as Mike sat and said nothing. Meanwhile the security person sat motionless while all this nonsense went on, as she played with her phone. When Jon saw Pops leave in disgust, he stopped him and took him back inside.
When Jon went in, Diane thought he was yelling at Pops, so she told Jon not to yell at her father. He quelled that argument quickly and then asked Mike who did not belong there? He said Robert’s name, who immediately was ready for a fight. Mike knew that Diane’s relationship with the workers was detrimental to the business, but he and Pops tried to do something, but Diane was dead set against firing anyone. Jon told them they needed to communicate with each other and will return in the morning to see what they accomplished.
The next morning, Jon told the staff that he did not have a chance to see behind the bar, see the kitchen or anything else but deal with drama. He then read some online comments stating that the people in there were degenerates and no money would bring them back to the bar and by far the worst bar they have ever been to. When Jon read the menu out loud, it was laced with expletives and cuss words to describe the food. When Jon asked Robert what qualified him to cook there, he had no experience, but Diane gave him the job. Then Jon described how the money and kitchen were cross-contaminated by the raw chicken. When Christine stated that there were actually customers who will not order food from him because they know - then Diane stopped her in midsentence to defend Robert. Jon jumped in to tell her that was the reason why they were failing. Then when Jon introduced his crew and how they can help them, Diane wanted her piece of the conversation. She ranted about how Jon called her a failure and nobody stuck up for her. She said her only failure was having a big heart. Then she handed out candy balls and told everyone to get some balls.
When Mike walked out to blow off steam, he came back because he loves his sister and the place is tearing them apart. As Brendan was teaching Robert how to cook, he gave him the 411 on cleanliness and proper food preparation. Phil was behind the bar giving the bartenders a lesson. Then Jon brought in his security trainer, Doc to see if Connie could actually pull off her job. Doc brought in a team of stuntmen to stage a fight and see how she handles it. One bar fight was all it took to determine she was not right for the job.
For the stress test, Jon put Pops in charge of coordinating between the bar and the kitchen. Diane will manage the floor and Mike will support in the kitchen. When a medium burger came back raw, Brendan told Robert to put another on immediately. Suddenly, a fire broke out in the fryer. As the fire raged on, and salt would not put it out, Brendan grabbed the fire extinguisher, but it was empty. Next thing they knew, the place was filled with smoke and had to be evacuated. Diane then fired Robert, who was only there because he was family – not because he was good. She even told Jon she felt relieved that he was gone.
With just two days before relaunch, Jon and his team went over the demographics and saw that much of the population was in their twenties and early thirties and three colleges within a stone’s throw. With this knowledge, Jon now had to try and fix the family dynamic to appeal to the younger crowd. Jon met with the owners and staff and made Zuzy the bar manager, Connie was no longer security, she will now help on the floor, while Jon gets a real security person. As Phil trained the bar staff, he came up with ideas for different shots, as nobody orders shots alone.
In the kitchen, there was now a new fryer and the place was professionally cleaned. Brendan will be teaching Pops how to make small shots of food, that can be eaten with the hands. He made lamb sliders called Pop’s Chops.
When the staff was brought outside, the place was completely renovated and the name was now The Shot Exchange, no longer did it look like an office building, the outside was clean and new, and had windows. The Shot Exchange denoted small shots of food and awesome shots of alcohol.
As the crowd waited outside, Mike and Diane went to welcome them in. The crowd was so large, the bar was having a hard time keeping up. Zuzy was supposed to be the bar manager, but was working feverishly to make all the drinks. The kitchen was doing fine and Brendan was pleased. Soon the bartenders were getting used to the drink configurations and everything was becoming easy.
Two months after the relaunch, the family drama has come to an end. Robert has not been back to the bar, Diane has hired a new cook with no family affiliation, and food and beverage sales have tripled thanks to Jon and his staff at "Bar Rescue."