Here's a good day at work for me: I got to go on set of the new Spike TV show, Bar Rescue -- and have the added bonus of an open bar tab! All the shenanigans were part of my coverage for The Smoking Jacket.
The skinny: Bar Rescue is like Kitchen Nightmares -- but with bars. Instead of Gordon Ramsey dishing out the tough love, we have renowned bar and restaurant consultant Jon Taffer. (Think of him as Gordon Barsey.) Under Taffer's watchful eye, his bar-transforming-posse traverses the country to give failing watering holes one last chance to succeed. Heads butt. Tempers flair. Taffer's in-your-face approach rocks the establishment's old guard in an attempt to turn the place around into a profitable drinking joint -- that's the insurance provider.
On this episode, the bar in need of tough love is located in Orange County and goes by the name the Canyon Inn Sports Bar & Grill. Yelp comments best describe the Canyon Inn experience:
"On $2 beer night there's guaranteed to be a fistfight."
"I spent $100 on drinks and I didn't even get buzzed."
"I saw a fat chick was beating the hell out of a skinny blonde bimbo out back because she dumped her beer out. Go fatty!"
"Canyon Inn is dimly lit, perfect for all the bleach-blonde meth addicts who use 50 pounds of MAC cover-up to hide the pock marks."
"Why or why not will this bar fail or succeed?" I ask tough-lover Jon Taffer during a break in filming.
"Harmon, you can fix broken bars but sometimes you can't fix broken owners," he says (doing an alpha-male thing of continually repeating my name). "A bar is an extension of the personality of the owner. I have an owner who walks by the front door that has a sticker that says 'Dickass' on it."
"So how much tough-love do you think you'll have to dish out?"
"We've been screaming at each other at the top of our lungs for two days; he's the most resistant owner I've ever worked with. If he knows everything -- then why am I here?"
The Canyon Inn's main problem is the Cheers syndrome; the territorial regulars who frighten the women away. Taffer gives an insurance quote of the situation: "I have an owner that's scared to chase these old guys out because it's the only money he's making, but he's losing $100,000 a year," he says. "He has to realize that those people aren't his salvation -- but his failure. I'm trying to train management when one of those regulars says something offensive to a girl that they throw him out."
Excellent! This is going to be a classic clash of the Titans: good vs. evil, Coke vs. Pepsi, the Simpsons vs. Family Guy. With friction between egos, I hope to see the following during my time on the set of Bar Rescue:
-A chef running out of the kitchen with the seat of his pants on fire.
-Taffer and the Canyon Inn owner angrily spraying each other with seltzer bottles
-A pie fight
Find out how it turns out and how much I drink on the set of Bar Rescue by clicking to The Smoking Jacket.
Bar Rescue premieres July 17th at 10PM on Spike.