Photo Courtesy of Spike TVOwning a bar can turn into a very profitable business or a massive money pit if you don’t know how to operate it correctly. Just ask Jon Taffer, host and co-executive producer of Spike TV’s Bar Rescue. We chatted with him to find out how he uses his near 30-year experience in the industry to assist bar owners in overhauling their look, design, menu, business and sometimes even members of their staff.
JustLuxe: The whole bar rescue is a unique concept. How did you get into the business of rescuing bars?
Jon Taffer: By living it. I have been doing this for 30 years so the show is really sort of autobiographical but if you told me five years ago that I would have a TV show, I would have said you are nuts. I have a friend who said he thought I should do a show so we put together a three-minute “sizzle reel” at a bar in Hermosa, California using just a camera, light and microphone. Shortly after that, we had an agreement and a call from the network.
JL: Can you let us in on some of the secrets to a successful bar?
JT: Sure, I don’t believe bars serve drinks. The product they sell is reactions. In a restaurant, when a plate of food hits the table, you react to it or nothing happens. A cook is making a reaction and achieving that reaction through food. In the bar business, he or she who creates the best reaction wins whether it’s through the music or staff or whatever. When they do that, that’s when the magic happens.
JL: What are some of the most common mistakes you have seen in operating a bar?
JT: There are two types of people who I have found who get into the bar business. First, there are those who like to do it like a mixologist and love the process of making drinks. They are great at putting out the product but have no marketing experience. The other is the guy who shakes everyone’s hand and is always handing out drink tickets but can’t manage the bar. There are two sides to a successful bar owner’s personality – process and marketing. People have to understand what kind of person they are. If they are a process person, they have to find a promotional monster
JL: What is the number one reason why you can’t rescue a bar?
JT: I can always rescue a bar. It’s the people I can’t always rescue.
JL: Do you have any advice for a first time bar owner starting out?
JT: They have to understand there are things in life that you can’t always plan on so you need to have extra money to help you. Also, make sure you understand the bar business and that it takes working every day and holidays. It’s important to understand you are getting into a tough business but bars are a wonderful business and great community places so they should be sure they go about getting into it for the right reasons.
JL: Are you really as angry as you appear on the show?
JT: There are two things that really get me – sanitation and stealing. The thing is people know better! I believe they have a moral responsibility to be sure they do the right thing. There is also the stress factor. It typically takes about 30 to 45 days to turn a restaurant around but on the show, I only have five days. I get upset because I have that clock always ticking in my brain.
For more information on Bar Rescue, visit Spike.com .