Royal Oaks Update – What Happened After Bar Rescue

Royal Oaks before Bar Rescue

Louie and John Kennedy

Royal Oaks in Youngstown, Ohio, has been around since 1934. It was also the first bar to receive a liquor license right after the Prohibition. In 2000 it was purchased by brothers John and Louie Kennedy and they enjoyed considerable success as the clientele who were loyal to the bar for many years still paid a visit. During their first year the brothers were able to rake in half a million bucks.

The American recession in 2008 exacerbated the economic hardships of Youngstown which occurred way back in the 70s after the steel industry’s collapse. This triggered a wave of job losses and a sharp drop in population. Businesses left and right shut down and Royal Oaks was dealt a massive blow. The financial troubles not only affected the bar, but also strained the relationship of the brothers. Louie lost all drive in working hard which didn’t bode well for the bar as he was responsible for maintenance. Aside from the neglected surroundings, the bar’s creepy decoration of baby dolls and the obnoxious behavior of the brothers repelled what little clientele they had.

Royal Oaks bled $5 grand a month and is on the verge of closing down for good. With no other option on the table, the Kennedy brothers called for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue for help.

Royal Oaks on Bar Rescue

The old exterior

Taffer arrives at Royal Oaks accompanied by Youngstown mayor John McNally. The bar’s exterior looked unsafe with barely any lights and a lot of clutter around the entrance. The two observe the interior of Royal Oaks via cameras and watched how John interacted with the clientele while Louie was spewing vulgarities. For the recon, Taffer deploys four local women who immediately notice the disturbing décor of the bar like sex toys on the walls and mannequin legs hanging on the ceiling. The bartenders served warm and foamy glasses of beer which was a contradiction of the bar’s statement of having the “finest beer cooling system” in town. The kitchen in Royal Oaks also served food that was prepared in a residential environment a few days prior to serving which was illegal as it cannot be inspected.


Taffer’s spies aborted their mission as the brothers were becoming increasingly vulgar. The Bar Rescue host charged into the bar after seeing enough shenanigans from the owners. Louie laughed at Taffer’s outbursts while John was not in a reasonable state of mind thanks to his intoxication. Seeing that it was impossible to talk to the brothers, Taffer walked out and returned the following morning with his experts namely whisky master Gerry Graham and barbecue connoisseur Kevin Bludso. Taffer made John realize the error of his ways last night and he was quick to admit his faults. As for Louie, he defended the creepy décor he set up around the bar, saying that everyone was entitled to personal tastes. Eventually the two brothers shook hands and promised to work together for the future of Royal Oaks.

During the training, Graham introduced a mead-based cocktail to the bartenders which complemented the bar’s barbecue dishes. Bludso taught the bar’s chef Billy how to marinade and barbecue chicken meat. During the stress test, John was assigned to the kitchen while Louie worked on the floor. Service was slow and Louie wasn’t very supportive of Taffer’s cocktails as he insisted that shots and beer were in-demand and not labor intensive. John was showing considerable effort but it was for naught due to the lack of systems and Louie’s unsupportive nature. Taffer had to shut down the stress test as it was a complete failure.

To pave way for the bar’s new future, Taffer brought in an electric smoker so the kitchen can prepare barbecue efficiently. Graham presented two new cocktails that were modern twists to classic drinks namely The Royal Kennedy and The New Day. Bludso added brisket to the barbecue menu of Royal Oaks which was ideal for a wide variety of dishes like sandwiches and slices. Taffer sat down with the owners to try and straighten Louie’s attitude. Fortunately, he agreed to the upcoming changes in the bar and in removing the eerie décor.

The revived exterior

After the renovation, Royal Oaks was transformed into… Royal Oaks. The name wasn’t change to preserve the history of the watering hole. Instead, Taffer gave the exterior a much-needed update with the signage now lit up in a gorgeous red tint and the walls splashed with a fresh cover of paint. The interior was classier with shiny new bar counters, lighting, and furniture. The walls were covered in brown paint which went well with the new lights in giving a comfortable atmosphere.  Taffer installed a new ice machine and beer tap system so Royal Oaks can finally serve a fine cool glass of beer.

Royal Oaks Now in 2017 – The After Bar Rescue Update

Royal Oaks is still open in 2017.

There are only three reviews on their Yelp page for this year, and they were all positive. There are more impressive feedbacks on their Facebook page for 2017. People praised the delicious barbecue, the fine beer, and the friendly owners.

Royal Oaks frequently hosts sports and dance parties, and live music. On August 12, they will be having the 10th Pabstolutely event on the bar. The said event involves a lot of music, food, and of course drinks.

Royal Oaks maintains a very active Facebook page where they post all of their upcoming events. Click here to visit it. You can also visit their Yelp page by clicking here. They do not have an official website as of this writing.