On last night’s episode of “Bar Rescue,” creator Jon Taffer visited Scoreboard in Norwalk, Calif. The bar was purchased by father, Larry Herrick for his daughter Michelle Glidewell to keep her occupied while her husband Bryan was at work. Because Larry already owned the building, Michelle and Bryan agreed to pay Larry back the $300,000 it cost to purchase the bar plus rent. Although Michelle had a degree in management, as things started falling apart, the couple stopped paying Larry on their loan and the rent. Despite Bryan taking on handyman and construction work, they found themselves over $364,000 in debt. With nowhere else to turn, Bryan and Michelle agreed to call on Jon Taffer for help.
Norwalk is seventeen miles southeast of Los Angeles with a predominately Hispanic blue collar population with a median income of $54,000, a few thousand more than average. It also has a younger population at 32 years, the average age is five years younger than the national average.
As Jon watches from his car, the outside offers no attraction as he converses with mixologist, Mia Mastroianni. He explains that co-owner Bryan works five jobs to make ends meet, while Michelle does nothing to improve the quality of the bar. For his recon Jon brought in television personality Maria Menounos and her fiance, Kevin Undergaro, the executive producer of Afterbuzz TV. They are both fans of the show and will be going in undercover.
When Maria and Kevin went in, they were not recognized, nor very welcomed by the staff. Maria asked for a strawberry margarita, and Kevin ordered whiskey cola. Their drinks tasted terrible and Maria’s first margarita was not strawberry. When he made the right one, he was short on the amount and topped it off with soda. The food they ordered was microwaved and not even warm. The chili cheese fries were soggy and the cheese not even melted. Potatoes skins were raw and the wings were also raw. Jon had enough and went in to confront the owners of the bar. Mia came in to check behind the bar and was grossed out by the findings. The margarita mix expired in August of 2012, there were homemade traps for bugs that were full, but they did not get them all, because open liquor bottles contained bugs, including the ones Maria and Kevin’s drinks were made from. Jon asked Bryan if Michelle had pride in the place, and he knew it was a no. Jon then asked Larry when he was pulling the plug, and he stated 60 days. Michelle seemed quite unemotional during Jon’s rant. When he went into the kitchen, he was totally disgusted by the filth and the age of the oil in the fryer. He told them if the place was not completely clean when he returned the next morning, he was pulling the plug on the redo.
When he returned the next morning, Bryan told him they threw away twenty bottles containing bugs, but the place was clean. Jon then questioned the staff as to their responsibilities. Corey, the security guy also had restaurant experience and Jon put him in the kitchen. He furthermore stated that Michelle left at 6 p.m. and whoever is bartending, is now in charge. All bartenders make food as well as tend bar. Of the three bartenders, Robert was the senior; Anthony was there less than two weeks and Marisa had just three days there, and Michelle provided no training.
Jon brought in Mia to train at the bar and Anthony Lamas a culinary expert to train in the kitchen, where he was showing Michelle and Corey his methods. When he asked Michelle to help him, she stated that she was not very good at it; putting cheese on potato skins? Corey was anxious to learn everything he could and took the reins.
Jon then met with Michelle, Bryan and Larry. He told her that after five years, she did nothing to improve the place or the way it ran. Bryan agreed that Larry has been coddling her and allowing her to fail. Larry told Jon that he set up the system for her to learn it in six months, Jon admitted he trained managers for two weeks, and they succeed. Finally, Larry admitted Michelle was a lousy business manager.
For the stress test, Corey and Anthony Lamas were in the kitchen, Robert, Anthony and Marisa were behind the bar. Michelle had to act like a manager on this night and prove to Jon she could do the job.
At the bar, Robert nailed the classic margarita for Mia, and for the special surprise, Maria and Kevin were returning with their friends for an Afterbuzz party. Mia watched drinks being made and had a dump bucket for the ones made improperly. Bryan came through and so did Robert behind the bar. The kitchen was making food, but Michelle failed in her effort to run the food to the tables because they had no numbering system. Finally, Jon closed it down. Management let them down. Bryan and Robert got an opportunity of a lifetime. Jon sent them to Mexico, to the Don Julio Distillery, where they had a chance to see tequila made from the agave fields to the bottling.
While the guys were away, Mia made tequila cocktails to attract the upscale Hispanic population of the area and for another surprise, Adam Carolla, star of his new Spike show “Catch a Contractor,” dropped by with his product called Mangria, that will be added to another cocktail.
When the reconstruction was complete, and Bryan and Robert returned, the place had a new name and interior. Now this dingy and unappealing bar was awesome from the outside and inside. The new name was Agave Junction Cantina and for the opening night, Maria and Kevin brought their friends once again. The food and drinks were awesome, and nobody was waiting an hour for a drink. The food was perfection, and the look on Michelle’s face told it all. She had a new attitude, a smile and what was even better; her father was proud thanks to Jon and his staff at “Bar Rescue.”
Six weeks after the transformation their food sales have increased by more than 50%, tequila sales have more than tripled and Michelle and Bryan paid Larry rent for the first time in eight months!
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