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Series: Bar Rescue

"I don't embrace excuses. I embrace solutions."
Jon Taffer, during the opening narration of every episode.note 

Bar Rescue is a reality show that first aired on Spike on July 17, 2011. The show revolves around Jon Taffer, an expert food & beverage industry consultant and one of six members of the Nightclub Hall of Fame, going around to failing bars, figuring out what is wrong with them and how to fix them. Yes, this is basically Kitchen Nightmares, but with bars! Despite this, Bar Rescue is a pretty interesting watch, due in no small part to the "bar science" constantly shown through Taffer's planning. Of course, there is also a lot of drama with owners.

This show provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Unfortunately, quite a few owners have resorted to sampling their own goods, something that Taffer has very little patience for. Two especially stand out examples were Tim in "The Olive Pit" and both owners in "Chilleen's". The latter example was so bad that by the time Taffer had his initial meeting with the owners, they were so intoxicated that one of the owners, Donna, admitted the next day she didn't even remember the meeting. Needless to say, Taffer threatened to walk out if either owner had another drink the entire time he was there. He brought a breathalyzer in to test the owners' alcohol blood content every day during his stay, and also set them up with an addiction counselor.
    • R.G.'s Lounge had a customer who was overserved and became so drunk that she was arrested for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct after leaving the bar when Taffer showed up.
    • Karen from O'Face Bar had a bell by her seat at the bar, that she rang whenever she wanted a shot. She rang it a lot. Her husband and manager weren't much better, either.
    • The moustachioed drunk from Zanzbar, whose inebriated rambling was both awkward and hilarious to watch.
  • All for Nothing: For all the work Taffer puts into the bars, some of the owners have reverted back to their old ways after he leaves. Some of this is minor, while others are major (see Piratz Tavern/Corporate Bar & Grill). A few have folded.
    • Ever Taffer could see that this was approaching head-on at O'Face, hence his walk-out.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Unintentionally invoked by Taffer at the Bamboo Beach Tiki Bar.
    Taffer: I can't believe what I just saw: a greasy, disgusting kitchen, terrible drinks, and a hair in the food.
  • Bad Boss: Not quite as common as on Kitchen Nightmares, but still pops up from time to time. One especially horrific example is Steve from Headhunters, who blamed the absolute filth on his bar on his workers, saying it was dirty because the workers weren't doing their job or that the customers didn't like it clean, and trying to convince his workers that they didn't need to be paid.
    • Ami from "Zanzibar's" approached just about every problem he ran into by screaming at the top of his lungs and throwing temper tantrums. When he was informed that he was giving away thousands of dollars in drinks, he immediately rounded up his employees and said that they all "betrayed" him, screaming that they were incompetent and stealing from him. The problem is that he was the one who ordered the employees to give away those drinks, something they didn't want to do and something that Taffer almost immediately calls him out on.
    • The owners at O'Face, in season three, were so incredibly hopeless that Taffer actually did give up and walk out on the rescue, saying he didn't want his name associated with them. Between the various police reports, the drinking by staff members, and the video evidence Taffer acquired of one of the co-owners physically injuring the bartender (he even tried to bribe his bouncer to throw the bartender through a glass window), there was no chance in hell of their getting any help from Taffer. According to the show's page on The Other Wiki, this is the only bar Taffer has refused to rescue in over thirty years of rescuing bars.note 
      • How bad were they? When Taffer arrived, the manager was fighting with a server. He ordered the owners to fire the manager. Instead, they fired the server for "stirring up trouble", and after he walked out, fired their bouncer, the one person who was on Taffer's side. The manager who instigated the assault on the server in the beginning was also re-hired.
  • Bar Slide: It is featured in the title card with a mug of beer being slid straight toward the camera and smashing into it.
  • Berserk Button: Taffer has several which includes:
    • Dirty bars and especially dirty kitchens. He really blows his top in "J.A. Murphy's", as noted below, when a cook handles raw chicken with her bare hands and then handles nachos. That by itself is bad enough, but the nachos in question were to be consumed by Taffer's daughter.
      • Taffer went ballistic when he saw that Headhunters was literally crawling with cockroaches, which had even gotten into the liquor bottles (one of which a bartender was going to use to pour a drink for Taffer's wife). He shut the bar down, called in the fumigators and made the owner and staff clean up the bar, including the thousands of cockroach carcasses littering the scene, the next day.
      • He did it again at "Fairways" after his expert threw up within minutes of drinking spoiled beer, the salsa in the kitchen turned out to be fermented and bubbling, and he found huge growths of mushrooms on the walls of the food storage area.note 
    • Blatant overpouring.
    • Drunk owners. He really tears into the owner of Extremes when he sees him drinking with the guests, to the point of almost walking off production.
    • Don't ever insult the people he brings along to fix the bar up. The owner of Zanzibar's called Chef Brian Duffy who was helping to remodel the kitchen a "fat boy" and Taffer blew up on him like a hydrogen bomb.note 
    • He has zero tolerance for owners who physically or verbally abuse their employees.
    • Bartenders who steal.
    • Staff members who put their customers in danger.
    • Men who treat female customers/members of the staff poorly or as objects. It's even worse if either the male staff members are the ones responsible for this behavior or they do nothing to stop this.
    • Taffer semi-frequently sends in his wife, daughter, or personal friends to do the recon. Hitting on them, disrespecting them, or serving them contaminated food is guaranteed to promptly result in a shouting match.
      • Paul of the Sand Dollar not only hit on Taffer's wife, he did so in one of the most offensive ways possible. Taffer came very close to leaving entirely.
    • Do not fail to show up for training, or waste the time of Taffer or his experts. If you do, you will be deemed the weakest link at the bar, and start having them push for you to be fired, or hammering on you to drive you to quit.
    • For the bar owners, a major berserk button seems to be the idea of changing the bar's name for any reason. Most will change it right back immediately after Taffer leaves.
      • The owner of Canyon Inn in Loma Linda, California, couldn't stand the idea of changing the name of his bar, even though Taffer and at least one customer told him that "Inn" is an archaic term for a tavern and that the modern use of the word causes people to think it's a hotel. They have actually received calls from people asking what their nightly rates were. Taffer changes it to "Canyon Saloon" but the owner changed it back to "Canyon Inn" after two weeks. The fact that the "Inn" hasn't been able to keep up the volume of business that it had on re-opening night suggests that perhaps some of Taffer's other changes haven't been kept, either.
      • Tim from The Brixton was so adamantly against changing the bar's name that when Taffer instructed him to paint over the sign on the side of the building, he painted a big middle finger over the O. He changed the name back almost immediately after the cameras stopped, but he still embraced Taffer's lessons.
      • In the most notorious example, the staff of Piratz Tavern not only changed the name back but went back to the original decor before the episode even aired. They even went to the trouble of burning Taffer's decor.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: They pop up from from time to time, but the family from O'Face in "Punch-Drunk and Trailer-Trashed" takes this Up to Eleven.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Can happen occasionally. On the more general point, the bar's relaunch is a success, but the owners have had to fire, and likely lose, a long time friend either because of that person's incompetence at running the bar, or they had been taking advantage of them.
    • Some the bars have had this situation thanks in part to the remodels. Watch, as the last 10 minutes of the show goes on to show case the cool changes to the bar's decor and features. Then go online, and find a local news website of that bar note they had to get rid of some of those changes, thanks to building codes and laws say they can't have that feature in a bar, or that the permits to own it are not worth the money.
    • This has, over the years become the apparent case of Piratz Tavern. It looks like they are doing better now, taking advantage of being unique niche bar, earning about average or above average reviews. But neither Taffer nor the Piratz' crew have anything nice to say of each other; Taffer thinks they're a sinking ship and they think he's an arrogant blowhard.
    • KC's Neighborhood Bar/Johnson County Line ends on this note. The relaunch into a somewhat more upscale smokers' club with a buffet looks good; but Liz, the head bartender, manager, and minority owner at the time, is forced to leave because the ownership buyout deal she signed with Bill (the majority owner) is not beneficial to her at all despite how much she cared for the place. See "What the Hell, Barstaff" below for more info. Things work out for Liz, though, as the end of the show update reveal that she was able to get a good job at another nearby bar. Also, there's a very brief shot of her attending the Johnson County Line's relaunch.
  • Blatant Lies: Much like on Kitchen Nightmares, those featured on Bar Rescue have staff willing to come up with various excuses for how dirty the bar, kitchen, or storage is. Likewise, expect the next minute or two to be a rather angry host storming about with footage showing the why these things are dirty and that the excuses are completely false.
    • The winner of that particular one has got to be Steve, owner of Headhunters, whose excuse for why he's running a bar that has mold, grime, and roaches all over the place, even inside the drink bottles crosses over into Cloud Cuckoo Lander territory boils down to this. "Oh because it adds to the punk grunge look to the place and the customers love it". *Face Palm*
    • A good number of minutes of the O'Face episode is this regarding the origins of its name. The episode starts with one of the owners saying that it's a reference to his nickname. It becomes very apparent that the name is actually a reference to having an orgasm, given the various sexual references all over the bar, and their signature cocktail is called "the O-gasm". About halfway through the episode, Taffer ask the staff directly what the name means, and Dave, the bartender, comes up with a blatant lie before he forced to acknowledge what it actually means. This only contributes to the building rage that leads to Taffer leaving the bar.
      • Additionally, the discussion on redesigning the bar held at about the same point as the above "origin of the name" discussion. The entire discussion can be summed up as Taffer asking if they really intend to keep the changes he has planned for them, and won't revert back to the above references. They all say yes, except for one, the bouncer, Syck whose brutally honest answer is that the rest of the staff almost likely won't keep to the changes and revert back to their old ways.
    • The "chef" of Fairways Golf and Grill, who claimed that he was the graduate of a culinary academy and cleaned regularly. Not only did he not know how to cook anything, even a simple hamburger, but the kitchen and walk-in refrigerator were so filthy that fungal blooms were growing inside the fridge. He maintained his lies even after he was fired for his astounding incompetence.
  • Boring, but Practical: Taffer's reason as to why he changed Piratz Tavern to Corporate Bar & Grill. Specifically, he stated that the pirate theme would've worked fine if they were in St. Petersburg, Florida due to the abundance of theme parks in the area, but since Silver Spring, Maryland has a large business district, he didn't really see it as being a good fit for the area.
  • Call Back: On a couple of occasions, Taffer has done his recon by sending in owners/managers of bars that were rescued in earlier episodes.
    • In the episode with Scoreboard's bar, "All-In" from the Cashmere episode makes a triumphant return complete with the whip crack sound effect.
    • During the KC's Neighborhood Bar episode, Taffer discovers a raccoon infestation and notices their droppings all over the place. He is reminded of the horse that defecated on the floor of Kid Chilleen's Badass BBQ.
    • In the Characters Quarters episode, one of the employees' costumes reminded Taffer of his previous episode at Piratz Tavern.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Paul, co-owner of the Sand Dollar. At the beginning, his outstandingly crude attempt to hit on Nicole (Taffer's wife) while she's doing recon almost causes Taffer to cancel the bar rescue project completely. However, after Taffer calls Paul out on his bad behavior, Paul does a Heel-Face Turn and behaves in a much more professional manner for the rest of the episode.
  • Catch Phrase: "My name is Jon Taffer. For the next five days, you work for me."
    • The manager James at Cashmere has a grating habit of tagging his sentences with "All in!" The editors mock this by zooming in on him with a whip-crack noise every time he says it.
    • "You blew it!", usually directed at owners and/or managers either during the initial visits or during the stress test.
    • The owner of Gipsy kept shouting "Play some Janet Jackson!" at his bartender, enough times for it to become the episode's title.
  • Cliff Hanger: The Chilleen's episode has a noteworthy one. The female owner, along with her husband, had a serious drinking problem. Taffer told them to not touch another drop of alcohol or he was going to walk out and abort the rescue. During the stress test, she was confronted by a group of customers who tried to get her to join them in downing shots, and the episode went to commercial on a shot of her standing irresolute. From what viewers had already seen, there was real tension as to what she would do after the break. When the episode resumed, the owner summoned up the willpower to decline the offer and walk away.
  • Didn't Think This Through: A recurring theme is people with no experience in the restaurant or hospitality industry buying bars with their life savings, apparently thinking that they're money-generating machines all by themselves.
  • Dirty Old Man: The owner of "Dimples", to a very uncomfortable degree.
  • Don't Try This at Home: In the episode "Characters Assassination", an atomizer is featured as one of the new tools that will be used for the relaunch of Moon Runners Saloon (formerly known as Characters). A note appears saying that only professional bartenders should use it and people shouldn't try it at home.
  • Downer Ending: Several of the bars have closed down since the episode featuring them aired.
    • A glance at Yelp indicates that a number of owners apparently just use the show for a free remodel before going right back to burying them. For example, Metal and Lace only got 1 1/2 stars, with the few good reviews coming from die-hard fans of the place during its Headhunters era (the bar closed in April 2014).
    • Gipsy's owner, Paul, walked out during the relaunch as SBLV. Just as the staff were enjoying the new work environment, he came back two days later and closed it for good.
    • O'Face Bar amounted to Taffer's Amy's Baking Company - not only did the episode start with the manager physically assaulting one of the servers in the parking lot, but at the end, Taffer gave up entirely on the bar and walked away after they proceeded to ignore every single thing he said (starting by firing the server who was attacked instead of her attacker). The last straw for Taffer was when he did a complete background check on the bar (something he actually doesn't do) and found out that not only were there multiple police reports about the bar, but there was video footage of one of the bar co-owners hitting the bartender during an argument and even tried to bribe the bouncer to throw the bartender through a glass window!
    • Even worse, the Only Sane Employee (aside from the aforementioned fired assault victim), who was actually working hard to try to help Taffer and convince the management he was trying to help, was fired not long after filming.
  • Dressed to Plunder: The owners and staff of Piratz Tavern.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Taffer.
  • Extreme Doormat: Some owners are Bad Bosses, as noted above. Other owners are this. Most commonly, this is an issue when the owners or managers are employing their friends or family members. Understandably, people have a hard time separating their private relationships with their professional ones.
  • Flair Bartending: The bartenders usually learn this during each episode.
  • Flash Back: Taffer had one in "Characters Assassination", flashing back to the Piratz Tavern.
    • Expect any episode that involves animals causing havoc to flash back to the horse in the bar scene from Kid Chilleen's Badass BBQ.
  • Follow the Leader: The show is essentially Kitchen Nightmares, but in bars. Spike also copied the formula four times. This includes:
    • Car Lot Rescue. It's about rescuing dealerships on the verge of collapse.
    • Tattoo Rescue, which followed tattoo artist Joey Tattoo in rescuing tattoo shops.
    • Hungry Investors is a spinoff of Bar Rescue. It follows Taffer, frequent Bar Rescue chef expert Tiffany Derry, and newcomer John Besh as they not only try to rescue two similar restaurants an episode, but also become investors in the one they think will have the most success.
    • Gym Rescue features Frank Shamrock and Randy Couture rescuing failing gyms.
  • Foreshadowing: Especially in the later seasons, the post-title voiceover will likely tell you what the remodeled bar's new theme/target market will be.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Taffer seems to like to come up with a lot of different acronyms:
    • D.I.N.K.: Dual Income, No Kids.
    • P.O.D.: Point of Difference.
  • Gargle Blaster: The "Inception Shot" at J.A. Murphy's.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the episode at O'Face, the former manager, who had been just been fired, flips off the camera as she prepares to drive away, and the uncensored gesture is seen in the program. This was more of a censorship failure than anything else.
    • Additionally, the bar's name itself. As noted above for Blatant Lies, despite what the owners claim, no one old enough to drink is going to fail to recognize what the name really references.
    • The Extremes episode, as a sports/bikini bar, was renamed to "Second Base". No points for guessing the Double Entendre there.
    • TJ Quill's is renamed to "The Annex" to make it sound a bit more like a bookstore. Additionally, the drink names are given library and studying references, which Taffer notes is a good way for the local college students to come up with an excuse to their parents about their purchases.
    • On the Zan-Z-Bar episode, Taffer goes uncensored when he's ripping into the owner for insulting his friend.
  • Hypocrite: Steve from Headhunters. Pretty much everything he says is Blatant Lies; but in one notable incident, he claimed that if his staff wanted to be given an hourly wage, he was behind it. However, immediately after they start to fill out the paperwork, he starts making comments about how they will have less hours and pay if they do this. Also, he still doesn't pay them.
    • The owner of the Canyon Inn kept stating how he will listen and use what Taffer tells him. However, every single time Taffer tries to point something out or change something, he argues over it with Taffer.
    • Also applies in a more broad sense, as every bar has to ask Taffer for help for him to come, then several owners refused to admit that they were doing anything wrong.
  • Implausible Deniability: Steve from Headhunters, despite being shown evidence right to his face, still states it's not true.
  • In Name Only: Longshots Sports Bar & Grill did not even have a TV for showing sports games.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Steve from Headhunters has very... erm, interesting explanations for many of the bar's failings - the "best" being why he won't pay his employees.
  • It's All About Me: A common failing among owners, managers and employees alike- they get so wrapped up in their personal affairs, or what they want out of the bar, that they forget they need to actually run a business.
    • The absolute worst of the bunch, however, has to be Steve from Headhunters. He was so oblivious to his own personal failings, so utterly lacking in empathy towards his customers and employees, that he didn't realize why it was bad that he wasn't paying his employees. He also denied that he had a cockroach problem right until he was served a glass with a dead roach floating in it.
    • A close second (and third) are the two owners of O'Face Bar, who couldn't stop fighting with each other and their employees long enough to do their training. On top of that, they got drunk during business hours, encouraged their employees to drink while on the job, and refused to tell a customer what was in their "O-gasm" shots. Their most short-sighted moment, however, was when they decided to fire their server after she was attacked by their manager. Basically, the server was fired out of favoritism for the manager.
  • Insult to Rocks: Taffer claims that he would call James from Cashmere a douchebag, but he would be insulting douchebags.
  • Jerkass: The owner of Headhunters, in Austin, Texas, seemed to go out of his way to be a total bastard, being dismissive of the huge cockroach problem Taffer found in the bar and then finding every excuse he could think of to claim why he had to keep employees' pay rock bottom when Taffer forced him to hire his employees properly.
    • Almost everyone at O'Face in Council Bluffs, Iowa, aside from Cerissa and Syck.
  • Kayfabe: The show has received some accusations of being heavily fictionalized if not sometimes outright made up of whole cloth. In the case of Piratz Tavern, for example, this article, written several months after the episode was filmed, goes to some length to detail the contradictions between what the show held out to be the case and what the writer actually found when he visited the bar. Among other things, the empty outdoor patio, which Taffer pointed out as a prime example of the bar's problems, was empty because the episode was shot in February - that is, late winter (Taffer's wife can clearly be seen, early in the episode, wearing a heavy winter coat as she enters Piratz).
    • Several bars' staffs have claimed online, typically on Facebook, that they were asked by the show's production company to do certain antics for the show to increase the drama of the episode. Additionally, according to this website, some might not have been struggling as much as implied, with owners having several other businesses, including other bars, and are just using the show for the free remodeling, training, and consulting expertise, as well as free publicity.
    • This is O'Face's staff's response to the video that caused Taffer to walk out. They claim that it was from their audition tape, and that they did it to add more drama at the producers' requests, and it was therefore "faked". Given their other issues, well, YMMV.
  • Large Ham: Taffer, especially when he gets mad.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The owners of O'Face were denied a renewal of their liquor license due to their very negative portrayal on the show.
    • Headhunters / Metal and Lace closed down in the Spring of 2014 after its owner apparently reverted back to the same poor management style that nearly caused him to close in the first place.
  • Lethal Chef: More than a few "chefs" that have appeared on the show seem to lack the most basic skills when it comes to cooking, often resulting in someone getting sick. A few examples stand out, though:
    • The chef from Turtle Bay in New Orleans didn't know to bring the gumbo up to temperature, which the gumbo expert regretted dearly.
    • The alleged chef from Fairways Golf and Grill, who didn't even know how to cook a hamburger, and kept what was likely the most unsanitary kitchen to have ever appeared on the show. You know things are bad when the mixology expert gets sick off the beer.
  • Lost My Appetite: More than a few kitchens have prepared food that the spies refused to eat, based purely on the sight or smell of it. On a few other occasions, they weren't so lucky.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: The male owner of the Sand Dollar sees himself as one. He's not very lovable, but the latter half of the trope very much applies.
  • Make an Example of Them: Taffer often does this when he first arrives by firing the worst employee in the bar or forcing the owner to do so when the owner has been letting them walk over him.
  • Man Child: In the episode based on The Blue Frog 22 (renamed to The Local during the episode, now open as Blue Frog's Local 22), the decor of the bar was compared quite seriously to that of a carnival, with board games all over the place and bright red colors. Not exactly inviting decor.
    • Steve from Headhunters seems to think everything Taffer says is a joke and nothing is his problem.
    • Taffer flat-out calls the owner of the Brixton a child.
    • James from Cashmere is referred to as a child in the body of a 40-year-old for his various antics.
    • Taffer seems to think that everyone involved in running Piratz Tavern is this (it didn't help that the owner and her husband were deep in debt and living with her parents at the time).
    • Paul, owner of Gipsy and its short lived relaunch SBLV, spent the episode screaming at customers and staff over petty things like what music was being played, and also threatening to fire his staff for wisely refusing to serve him another drink because of how drunk he was. Sober, he was not much better, resisting the changes to the point of walking out before the relaunch. He then shutting the place down for good when he returned.
  • Manipulative Editing: Several bar owners have taken offense to how the show presents them. This is reality television, so it comes with the template.
    • Done more intentionally and arguably benevolently to highlight owners' or employees ridiculous, false, or outlandish claims of being successful despite the business failing. Interview claims will often be intercut with contradicting video, such as a chef claiming his cooking is sanitary, immediately followed by a video of obvious health code violations and cross-contamination.
      • Another favorite, done nearly Once an Episode, is an owner in denial, claiming they have loyal regulars or that their regulars enjoy whatever "quirk" Taffer focuses in on, followed by a cut to a shot of a completely empty bar.
      • It's been revealed, however, that many of these "empty bar" shots are completely staged, when the bar isn't actually open.
  • Never My Fault: A recurring problem with owners.
    • Tim, owner of the Brixton, refused to believe that his obnoxious behavior was scaring away customers, or that he needed to change his business practices.
    • Ami, owner of Zan-Z-Bar, spends most of the time blaming his employees for everything that goes wrong, even as he tried to do everything himself. This is rooted in his fears of employee betrayal, after his previous staff took advantage of him when he was recovering from a car accident.
    • Steve, the owner of Headhunters, was so self-absorbed that he didn't even realize what was wrong with not paying his employees, and anytime he was forced to explain his failures, he blamed it on his employees.
    • The entire staff of O'Face Bar qualifies, with the exception of Syck, for being oblivious to the negative consequences of constantly drinking, abusing customers, abusing employees, and having a stupid name for their bar.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Aside from sanitation issues, several bars have had problems with the structural integrity of their buildings. In these cases, Taffer often has to recruit contractors and structural engineers to fix the defects before he can even start redesigning the bar.
  • Once an Episode: Like its inspiration, Kitchen Nightmares, Bar Rescue tends to follow a particular set pattern:
    • The episode begins with the owner(s) and/or employees talking about the bar and the problems it's having. Much of the time, they also mention that things used to be better before some particular event or change at the bar.
    • Afterwards, it cuts to Taffer sitting outside in his car, looking at surveillance footage with his spies or his experts, as they point out all the things that are going wrong (and occasionally, the rare thing that's being done right).
    • Once Taffer has seen enough to make an assessment (or someone's life is in danger), he gets out of the car and goes into the bar to start tearing the owner(s) and employees a new one.
    • It cuts to the next day, where Taffer and his experts try to figure out where the problems start and do a rudimentary assessment of people's knowledge and skills. They also do a bit of training to prepare them for...
    • The Stress Test. The bar is packed with lots of customers to see who holds up, and who breaks down. If someone is going to get fired or quit, it'll usually be during the Stress Test (or shortly thereafter).
    • Everyone who makes it through the Stress Test gets training, while Taffer meets with the owner(s) to discuss the new design for the bar, including the new concept and how best to monetize the space they have.
    • Taffer lines everyone up with their backs to the bar, several hours before opening. He reminds them how far they've come, and has them turn around to see the new bar. Cue cries of excitement and joy at the fancy new bar.
    • Finally, they show opening night, usually with everything going smoothly and the future looking bright.
  • Only Sane Employee: Even in the bars where Taffer can barely stand the majority of the staff, there are usually one or two employees whom he regards as being worthwhile. In a few instances, these employees are also the resident Butt Monkeys simply because everyone else is so dysfunctional that they take it out on them. Case in point: Bryan (a.k.a. "Syck"), the bouncer at O'Face (who keeps trying to talk owners into listening to what Taffer has to tell them, and ends up getting fired after the episode airs), and Cerissa, the server (who gets unjustly fired after she's physically assaulted by her own manager and returns to her job only to see the manager, who Taffer forced the owners to fire, return to the bar after he had walked out), in "Punch-Drunk and Trailer-Trashed."
    • In the case of Pat's Cocktails, it was the two female bartenders who called Taffer in to help their bar, out of desperation over the combination of absentee owner and feckless manager which was dragging the establishment down. Taffer had one of the bartenders deliberately serve nearly eighty free drinks over the course of a hour during recon to hammer home the point that the manager just didn't care what was going on.
  • Papa Wolf: While Taffer has gotten really upset quite often on the show, the angriest he ever got in the first two seasons was during the episode based around "J.A. Murphy's", when the chef, on hidden camera, picked up raw chicken with her bare hands, then started preparing nachos. The customer those nachos were for? Taffer's daughter. Needless to say, righteous fury soon entered the bar in the form of Taffer.
    • Also extends to shoddy treatment of any woman he sends in to do recon. The May 2014 episode filmed at Mary's Outpost ("Scary Mary's") is a good example - the two ladies sent in to do recon as new employees are seen being informed by the male owner that if he tells them to take their tops off, they will do it. Taffer interrupts the recon to get them out of the situation and tell the owner how disgusting he is.
  • Pilot: One was taped in 2010, but didn't air until June 2014 (as "The Lost Episode").
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Many of the managers looking over the bars are relatives or friends of the owners and have absolutely no experience in managing a bar. More often than not they are one of the main reasons that the bar is failing.
  • Product Placement: Nearly once every 10 minutes. The mixed drinks always have some major brand's drink in them, if not featuring at least part of the brand's name in the drink's name itself. For example, if the drink is made using a Captain Morgan's product, it'll often feature "Captain" in the drink's name. Granted, part of this is justified as Theme Naming, and often being popular brands in the U.S.
    • Any time Taffer begins a sentence with "My friends from/at...", this is in full force.
  • Punny Name/Theme Naming: It's a show involving the bar industry. Unless the bar is considered a landmark by the locals, or has a family name in it, then chances are its name will be this if it wasn't already by the end of the episode, complete with themed drinks.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The bartender Yum Yum from Chilleen's (after blowing off the mandatory training earlier that day and coming into work just as it was opening) gets so overwhelmed during the stress test that she just leaves.
    • Mark, chef at Swanky Bubbles, gave up and walked away when told what changes were necessary.
    • Archer, the server/busboy at Piratz Tavern, got fed up with Taffer's yelling and quit his job after Taffer came in with the harsh reality that the pirate theme was not working.
    • Brittany (a.k.a. "B.C.") from O'Banion's quit her job just before its relaunch when she wasn't getting any sleep and decided that it wasn't her top priority in her life.
    • Taffer has threatened to just walk out and not help the owner on more than one occasion. The one where he finally gave up and did just that was the O'Face Bar.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Bar manager Jimmy and his wife from the "Pat's Cocktails" episode. Jimmy spent most of the first night during the recon being so lovey-dovey with his wife, it prompted Taffer to call one of the bartenders and set a trap to see just how distracted he truly was. Said trap involved the bartender giving away nearly 80 free drinks, with Jimmy too busy making out with his wife to notice. They get better, though.
  • Special Guest: Maria Menounos helped Taffer out for his recon of Scoreboard. Adam Carolla also made an appearance later on to help the staff with the new drink menu.
    • Halestorm made an appearance at Win Place Or Show's relaunch as America Live.
  • The Starscream: Susan thinks her co-owner John is this at Barlow. John thinks the same of Susan. Finding some way to rectify this was the first part of the rescue.
  • Stealing from the Till: Some of the bartenders brazenly overpour. And that's not counting the employees who apply this literally and actively steal money.
    • A good example of the latter was in effect at Kerry's Sports Pub. However, Taffer put equal blame on the manager, since the reason the employees could get away with it was the fact that said employees were storing their tip money in the register. All it took to skim off the top was putting in a no sale and taking the money, and claiming they were just retrieving their tips if confronted.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Taffer gives one on his way out of O'Face:
    Taffer: "The first day I got here, I never even made it inside the bar. I got involved in a fight in the parking lot where your manager [Amanda] was fighting with you, Cerissa [the server]. At the end of that fight, you [Karen, co-owner and wife to husband Matt] looked at her and said she had it coming. And then I saw a video a few minutes ago that took me over the top, and I want an answer to this. Matt, Dave [the bartender], please explain this."
    (Cue video of Matt, one of the co-owners, slapping Dave, screaming expletives, and yelling "he's military, mother f***er" and trying to bribe "Syck," the bouncer, with a $10 an hour raise if he throws Dave through a window. Taffer continues)
    Taffer: "You get a $10 raise per hour if you throw your own employee through a glass window.... Your bar isn't what's wrong, your character is what's wrong. The problem is you guys think this is okay. You guys are a mess. My tolerance for an owner hitting an employee is zero. You have no responsibility. None. You see, I have a reputation and I have to protect it. And you will destroy it, just like you destroyed your own. The ultimate coup de grāce is an owner hitting an employee. I am not going to rescue a bar, and then read in a newspaper that somebody got hurt here next week. I won't have any part of it. Since I've been here, you guys have proven to me you don't have the fundamentals to begin running this business, and have proved to me how irresponsible you are. So here's the deal. I'm leaving. I am not rescuing your bar. My advice to you is this, as another human being; you need some help and you need to pull your lives together. And then maybe you can save your business. You need a counselor, not a bar professional. But I'm done. This is the first bar rescue I've ever walked out on. You blew it. I'm gone. Good night.
  • Teasers Always Lie: At one point in the episode at the Sand Dollar, the teaser for one segment suggests that co-owner Paul is about to backslide into his crude, Casanova Wannabe ways. However, when the episode resumes after the commercial break, Paul does ogle the female customers in their low-cut dresses but does nothing beyond that, instead concentrating on his job and making customers of both sexes welcome.
  • This Is Wrong on So Many Levels: It's very rare for a bar to have only one really bad problem- to get to Bar Rescue levels, the problems need to be widespread, manifold and persistent. Such problems usually include some combination of the following: poor hygiene, bad service, drinking on the job, lazy/incompetent employees, bad management, a lack of training, and a negligent or absentee owner.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: While Taffer doesn't take kindly to incompetence, abuse or neglect, he always makes sure to point out the people who do manage to live up to his standards or improve themselves. In some cases, it's the only positive feedback they've had in a very long time.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Tim at The Brixton didn't seem to understand that people want to enjoy themselves in bars - right down to throwing people out for being loud.
      • Cranked Up to Eleven when we are told that he has a degree in marketing and, in addition to to the above behavior, posted pictures of things like garbage and bloody feet on the bar's Twitter account under the genuine belief that it was a good idea.
    • And then there was another bar where an employee was caught red-handed Stealing from the Till. Taffer pointed out to the owner that he couldn't let his employees get away with shit like this, and advised the owner to fire his employee. The owner confronted his employee, admonished him not to steal again, and said that he would be keeping him on.
    • Then there's Ami from Zanzibar's. The man walks out onto the street screaming like a town crier that various things can be had for free or nearly so, including "very cheap sex." Then he begins giving away bottles of champagne among other alcoholic drinks until his customers are falling-over drunk and spends most of his day screaming at things. The whole time he's wondering why nobody is coming to his business and why he is not getting any profits.
    • The owner of the Sand Dollar repeatedly hit on Taffer's wife in the most offensive way imaginable. That passed the Too Dumb to Live area and went straight to just plain suicidal; Taffer was so angry he nearly walked away from saving the bar.
    • In the Pilot episode, during the stress test, the owner of South Park Bar & Grill angrily screams at a customer smoking in the bar, then literally picks him up and hurls him out of the bar and then gets into a physical fight with him right outside the bar's windows. Taffer remarks that that incident had taken everything they had worked on the past few days and threw it all away in a few seconds.
    • The owner of Headhunters was a combination of this and Defiant to the End. He fought every suggestion Taffer put forward, and denied or made excuses for every problem that was pointed out to him. Taffer wasn't even out the door before he started reverting to his old, bad ways, and unsurprisingly, the newly dubbed Metal and Lace closed down with some of the worst reviews ever given to any bar on the show.
  • Tranquil Fury: Mixologist Russell Davis, one of Taffer's more frequent experts, will enter this anytime someone fails to show up for training and/or is wasting his time. When the stress test hits, he will get his revenge by making sure to remind them that each failure they made could have been lessened if only they had showed up to training earlier that day. One such troublemaker, "Yum-Yum" from Chilleen's, pulled a Rage Quit and walked out.
    • Taken Up to Eleven on the O'Face episode. After losing a day of training to the staff arguing with each other and pointing fingers, and a disastrous stress test, Russell unleashes his Tranquil Fury in the form of a boot camp, drill instructor like training. Hilarity Ensues.
      Matt (one of the co-owners of O'Face): "We just got our butts kicked by one man."
  • Trash of the Titans: Many bars have a lot of trouble with hygiene, but the worst example by far was Fairways Golf and Grill, that had not only accumulated a disgusting amount of filth and trash, but actually had fungal blooms growing inside the refrigerator.
  • Verbal Tic: James from Cashmere appears to be unable to go without saying "All in" at least every other sentence. Even when passed out on the couch, he kept muttering the phrase.
  • Very Special Episode: The "Bungalow Bar" episode, since rather than help a failing bar get better, Taffer is helping to rebuild a bar wrecked by Hurricane Sandy that has run out of funds. He does a bit of improvement with the staff and decor, but it isn't a case of making a bad bar good; rather, it's making a good bar better.note 
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: On several occasions, a spy or expert has consumed something that caused them to vomit. On those occasions, the camera crew will follow them into the bathroom, but will generally spare the audience the sight of the actual vomit.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: The female owner of Kid Chilleen's was so drunk that she did not even remember meeting Taffer.
  • What The Hell, Bar Staff?: Taffer takes a very dim view of bars who continue serving over-intoxicated customers, putting profits or "fun" above consumer and public safety. Crosses over with The Alcoholic above, as in several cases, the owners or staff are among these heavy drinkers.
    • KC's Neighborhood Bar & Grill (renamed to Johnson County Line during the episode) has one business related. The owner Bill, was selling the ownership of the bar to his head bartender/manager Liz over time. Problem is, while Liz wants the place to succeed, he's partying at the location's costs by demanding his staff over-pour drinks for sake of the staff and customers getting drunk. Made much worse when Taffer and a lawyer he brings in look at the agreements and find that not only is Liz being fleeced on the deal, it's not even legally certifiable, while at the same time making Liz completely liable for the bar. She chooses to walk away completely from the bar, after Bill refuses to re-negotiate the agreement.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Every episode ends by telling what happened to the bar a few weeks or months after its relaunch, including updates on the staff's personal and financial problems detailed throughout the episode.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The manager of Stand Up, Scottsdale did not believe that a comedy club should solely be about comedy. While he does have a point (Bill Hicks and George Carlin both had serious edges to their work), his delivery of such a point undermined him at every turn.

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