That time Jon Taffer, “Bar Rescue” Came to Iowa
Full disclosure: I'm not a big fan of reality TV. However, it's rare on a (non-football) Sunday when I don't at least indulge in one episode of Bar Rescue. Hosted by popular bar consultant and entrepreneur Jon Taffer, the show chronicles his effort to save failing bars around the country.
The most common problem with the bars on the show is they're not only failed by poor sales, they're failed by poor management. More often than not, the management needs rehabbing just as much or more than the bar.
While Taffer ordinarily travels to places like Miami, Las Vegas, Chicago, and more, he did make a stop in Council Bluffs, IA just a few years ago. The results weren't pretty.
I happened to catch this episode on Paramount Network recently. It's one I haven't seen in a blue moon, and it's definitely worth something of a deep-dive.
Some background: the bar was O'Face Bar, a name as uncouth as the bar itself. Beyond being a dirty, dingy bar in general, Taffer's recon team, who sampled the food and drinks, was disgusted by the complete lack of quality in both.
One of many memorable moments from this episode was the fact that two employees got into a physical fight. And then the victim, not the instigator, was fired by the staff!
When Taffer tried to train the staff into being more studious bartenders, the employees made mixing the simplest of cocktails appear to be rocket science. That was when they decided to work in the first place. The staff came off as aloof and completely uninterested at making the slightest effort to improve themselves and the bar. The bulk of the show was centered around the drama between the staff.
Despite these problems, Taffer still held out hope that he could rescue O'Face Bar. Until he ran a business background check. Within the background check were multiple criminal offenses, including the owner assaulting an employee on video.
This prompted Taffer to do something he never did in Bar Rescue's history until that point: walk out and refuse to rescue the bar.
Quite possibly the only thing more shocking than anything seen in the episode is that O'Face still remains open, as of early 2022! This comes after the bad publicity afforded by the Bar Rescue episode, the business apparently losing its liquor license after the episode aired (only to have it reinstated on appeal), the owner going on to face several serious abuse charges, and a shooting occurring at the bar in early 2021.
You might get a kick out of reading the horrible reviews of the bar that were left on Google. You don't see many establishments still operating with an average rating of below three stars, I'll say that!