Bar Rescue: with good profits comes bad publicity

Photo by Anibal Ortiz

Spike TV is known for its shows on tattoos, wrestling and dying. One show is Bar Rescue, and it’s hosted by Jon Taffer and his wife, Nicole. The show goes to failing bars and attempts to help keep them alive by renovating the bar and teaching the owners and employees a few lessons.

Yorba Linda’s Canyon Inn Sports Bar & Grill was featured on the first season of Bar Rescue. Owners Jon Schneider, Paul Ambrus and Terri Glennan bought the 50-year-old bar six years ago from the previous owners.

Schneider said Bar Rescue contacted them to be on the show but after shooting the pilot, the show did not originally choose Canyon Inn because there was not enough drama. Ambrus kept in contact with the show and thought it would be good publicity to be on Bar Rescue. The three owners were told that the show would have full control and could even dub their voices. Schneider said they had to decide whether they wanted the bad publicity. They eventually decided that any publicity is good publicity.

“They told us right from the start that it was a show for ratings, and they were not going to paint us in a good light,” said Schneider.

According to Schneider, Canyon Inn tripled their sales after the renovation and doubled their sales after their episode aired. Schneider reports that his bar received about $40,000 in upgrades and one million dollars worth of advertising from Bar Rescue.

The show accepted applications for their second season. Schneider said bar owners asked him about his experience and he told them to be ready to let go of control because the show will do what they want.

“They’re really sneaky,” Schneider said. “They want to get their show and get their ratings.”

Schneider caught people involved with the show doing “sneaky stuff” in order to start problems. One example was a bartender who did not make a drink correctly.  The show targeted him as the “worst employee.”

After the show aired, Schneider said a lot of locals came to see the renovated bar.

“We got a lot of people that we probably wouldn’t have reached or gotten in here without the show,” he said. “So the publicity was really good.”

As far as renovations, the show put in synthetic wood floors, the top of the bar was redone (Schneider claims the top is now showing to be not that durable), the outside of the building was painted, new signs were created and the walls on the inside were painted to give more of an East Coast theme.

The show completed the remodeling on the grand opening night. Schneider and his team had to put everything back into the bar and be ready for 200 customers in 30 minutes.

“It was one of the hardest nights because that part is real,” Schneider said. “You have to serve those people, and that was all real.”

John Nicholas, a patron of the Canyon Inn for the past six years, was on the show during the first part of the episode. He said the bar has a modern look, but still keeps the hometown feel.

“They treat you well and comfortably enough that you kind of become family,” said Nicholas.

The owners and staff take care of their customers, said Nicholas. He goes to the Canyon Inn because it is a relaxed environment and the food is good.

“It’s really comfortable to come in, sit, drink,” he said. “You’re not felt like you have to rush in and rush out.”

The upcoming second season of Bar Rescue features Orange’s The Olive Pit.  Bartender Stephanie Sanchez has worked with The Olive Pit for the past five years, and this year will mark its 50th anniversary.

Sanchez will be prominently featured throughout the episode. She said after the renovation their sales have been a lot better. Bar Rescue renovated the seating booths, the walls, painted the outside and added a photo booth and game room.

The feedback from customers on the renovations is a mix, said Sanchez. Everyone says it is better, but there are some customers who say they want the old Olive Pit back.

Even though the bar is doing well with the renovations, Sanchez said she almost quit the first day.

“It was like a curveball and a blind-side right in the face,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez describes the experience like boot camp, where professional bartenders and cooks come in and help them. She said there were a lot of emotions, and overall the show was really intense. But it did bring the bartenders and bosses together.

“Now we have a newfound love and respect for each other,” she said.

About Erinn Grotefend

Erinn Grotefend is graduating from Cal State University Fullerton this spring. Serving as Detour Editor during the fall 2012, Erinn is ready to take on the position of News Editor this semester. She is majoring in Communications with an emphasis in Print Journalism and a minor in Radio, Television and Film. Erinn started her journalism career at Mount San Antonio College where she was News Editor for The Mountaineer. After graduating from CSUF, she plans to write for newspapers and magazines as well as go into television production. Her ultimate goal is to work for E! Entertainment.