Let's get one thing straight right up front: Bar Rescue is one of our favorite shows - and always will be. But while the tales of saving these troubled establishments always required some suspension of disbelief, after learning the facts contained in this post, we had to work much, much harder to sustain the fantasy.
Despite it's so-so record of success (and a prime chance to humiliate yourself on national TV) each season there are hundreds and hundreds of drinking establishments who want to appear on Bar Rescue. Producers commonly visit a city to "audition" multiple bars in a short span of time - recording "test" footage that will be used to decide who gets on their air.
It is during these auditions that the Bar Rescue advance team will tell bar owners that there are a few final contenders for the coveted slots on the show - and that the best way to ensure they get the gig is to act as outrageous as possible while being recorded.
This explains why so many people accuse the show of being staged - and why you see so many seemingly normal people acting like complete jacka**es in front of the camera.
To listen to Jon Taffer talk you would think the man has a perfect record when it comes to saving moribund bars that would otherwise have been heading for bankruptcy.
On the contrary, each season a large percentage of the "rescues" end up "closing their doors for good" in the months (or in some cases, even weeks) after Taffer and his crew pack up and leave.
Why does this happen, despite the fancy new look and seemingly large amount of free publicity given to the business? The answer lies in our next item...
The reason why so many Bar Rescue rescues don't take lies in the reason the business and its owners are on the show in the first place.
Think about it: there's about a 95% chance that the reason the bar is in dire straits (and willing to call Taffer for help) is because the owners made a number of poor management choices, are inexperienced in the business - or both.
Taffer and his people are only there for a few days - which is nowhere NEAR enough time to teach someone how to be a smarter businessperson, make better decision, not sleep with employees, etc. As Jon Taffer himself has said, "Changing bars is easy. Changing people is tough."
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When Jon Taffer changes a bar, he goes "all in" which also means sometimes changing the name of the business to something he deems to be more marketable. Problem is, some owners have a strong attachment to their bar's name - which leads to a quick change back as soon as Taffer's tail llights have disappeared over the horizon.
Pictured above: Power Plant owners went back to their original name "Rocks" soon after the Bar Rescue crew left. Can't imagine why -- Who wouldn't want to grab a few drinks at the "Power Plant"?
While they stop JUST short of literally putting words into people's mouths, Bar Rescue producers will often give those on screen specific direction on how to act. If there's a "stress test" or "soft opening" the crowd may be told to "act really unsatisfied" or when their dinner arrives the instructions are to "go into detail about how disgusting the food is" and the like.
No great surprise here, as most people probably know by now that the reality TV shows they love all contain massive amounts of editing in order to create dramatic tension, build character development and other necessities that go along with making entertaining television.
What some might not realize is the lengths to which editors and producers will go in order to make their point. Say you're watching a bartender complain that their boss is "totally like Hitler" - when really they are using that response from a question they asked the person earlier in the day about what they thought about Benito Mussolini.
You may look at all the people who pack the bar for the "stress test" and think wow, they must be really mad about having to wait so long to get their cocktails. In reality, they are actually having a GREAT night - because not only are they going to appear on a famous TV show, but their food and drink has been comped by the show's producers. The viewing audience is never told this fact because it lower's the stakes of what's happening on screen.
...and likely will be again. Take the Piratez Tavern episode for example (one of our all-time favorites). During the show, the cook (who is also the owner's husband) Juciano storms off after taking a tongue-lashing from Taffer. She runs after him to try and get him to come back and support her and the business. They argue and he storms off home - leaving his own wife and business partner to face the fire alone. Pretty good drama, right? Problem is, the whole thing was staged by producers. According to the owners of the bar (and participants in the skit) they were told it would help the show's ratings to show a little marital conflict - a fact they found so funny that both admitted they were totally cracking up while recording the scene.
Some of the most hilariously bad Bar Rescue name changes include:
Changing Piratz Taven to Corporate Bar and Grill
Changing Win Place or Show to America Live!
Changing Rocks Bar and Grill to The Power Plan