Friar Tuck’s before Bar Rescue
In 1996 Ivan Vuich won the heart of the niece of the owner of Friar Tuck’s, along with the keys to the bar. Friar Tuck’s was among the most famous bars in Pomona, California since the 80s and Vuich enjoyed its profitability during his early years in manning the place. $60 grand a month was common and the bar was always packed.
Unfortunately, the clientele weren’t the only ones partying as the employees joined them in the camaraderie. As the staff became uncontrollable Vuich’s stress aroused bouts of rage. In 2008 he hired Sami as a general manager to try and turn the bar around, but instead the two were locked in hostility. The staff also began fighting each other, turning the bar into an extremely toxic workplace.
With a debt of $100,000 and a bar turned into a war zone, Vuich had no other choice but to call for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue for help.
Friar Tuck’s on Bar Rescue
From the outside Friar Tuck’s castle facade looked like a play place for kids and not a bar for adults. Inside the premises the bartenders were drunk and playing pool with the customers. They also lacked ingredients behind the counter which made them unable to mix some drinks. In the kitchen Vuich flattened meatballs into burger patties. He showed promising skills in cooking but he didn’t take the work seriously. When Vuich found out about the negative reaction of Taffer’s spies towards the food his temper began to flare, affecting everyone around him. He stopped cooking at 10 in the evening and became more abrasive within earshot of customers. Even Taffer himself was a victim of Vuich’s attitude problem, causing the Bar Rescue host to walk out. Sami had to chase him and plead for the rescue to commence.
Vuich still was hostile the following morning and blamed everyone for the bar’s failure. The employees revealed that they weren’t being paid properly. Taffer made the owner realize how much he rejected everything even when the bar was clearly failing, and Vuich at first became frustrated before eventually opening his eyes to the truth. Taffer then brought in his experts namely bartender Jason Bran and chef Aaron McCargo to commence the training.
Bran changed the pour spouts of the bottles behind the counter to ensure pouring consistency. To work on their teamwork the expert bartender had one employee mix drinks while blindfolded; only relying on the guidance of a colleague. The exercise made them realize how important teamwork was behind the bar. McCargo taught Vuich how to properly flatten a burger patty and how to improve flavour with some condiments.
During the stress test the bartenders were overwhelmed by the sudden rush of customers. In the kitchen the orders also piled up. Vuich was clueless as to where he should be lending a hand, while Sami was the total opposite and showed how a general manager should move while under pressure. When one of the customers sent back a dish for being in poor quality Vuich started spewing profanities as his temper slowly flared. Fortunately, he was able to rein his fury and instead responded to his employees respectfully and with a smile. Taffer deduced that Vuich was at his best when he was loaded with work in the kitchen. His complete attitude shift earned him praise after the test, and the staff also understood that they should be working together cohesively if they wanted to save Friar Tuck’s.
For the new concept Taffer decided to build upon the castle design with a German theme so it won’t look like a children’s play place anymore. McCargo introduced German dishes and sausage to match the new theme, while Bran whipped out cocktails composed of premium ingredients and apple. The master mixologist also elaborated the importance of aroma in enhancing a product’s taste.
After the renovation Friar Tuck’s Sports Bar & Pub was rebuilt into Stein Haus Brau & Brat, or in English “Stone House Beer & Sausage”. The castle’s facade was splashed in brown with black tops, plus outdoor lighting for emphasis. The interior was given a medieval revamp with stone walls and wooden furniture. Taffer gave them a lifetime subscription to Partender and a copy of his app BarHQ to help management handle the bar.
Customers poured in during the grand reopening night and they all loved the castle’s new form. Taffer left the premises with a more positive owner who’s ready to face the future with a new attitude.
Friar Tuck’s Now in 2017 – The After Bar Rescue Update
Six weeks after the episode Stein Haus reported a 15% increase in sales, and Sami and Vuich continued to work together without even a single bit of hostility.
The reviews on Yelp throughout 2015 were mixed. Praise went to the bar’s new atmosphere, the food and drink, and the friendly staff. Criticism targeted the large number of pot holes on the parking lot. The bar’s exterior also drew mixed reactions with many not liking the brown paint job.
Around the tail end of 2015 Stein Haus suddenly closed its doors for good. There was no reason as to why the bar shut down. They deactivated their Facebook page and their website was now down. There were rumors floating around about the plans of reopening the place as “Tucks” with the parking lot already paved.
For now the castle still stands empty without anyone guarding its gates.