Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Olive Pit Update – What Happened After Bar Rescue

The Olive Pit before Bar Rescue

In 2001 Tim Eyerly retired from his work as a banker and pooled in his resources to purchase The Olive Pit, a 60-year-old bar in Orange, California, and a favorite haunt of the local blue-collar community. Eyerly enjoyed a thriving business during its early years until the cracks began to form.

The Olive Pit

Eyerly developed a habit of drinking with the patrons and flirting with the female bartenders, and these undesirable behaviors for an owner ground the bar’s momentum to a screeching halt. The Olive Pit bled money and Eyerly’s daughter Tracy stepped into the picture to try and save the establishment. She asked her father for full control of the bar but the old man was hesitant in handing over the reins to his daughter. The two were locked in a tug-of-war for the future of the bar which became the cause of conflict between the father and daughter.

With income sliding down a slippery slope and tensions flaring up, the Eyerlys agreed to call Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue to help save the bar from falling into the deep pit of bankruptcy.

The Olive Pit on Bar Rescue

Jon Taffer sent his wife Nicole to do recon in the bar to gain a customer’s perspective on things and immediately noticed the establishment’s neglected state. She asked for a menu but was given none and instead the bartender told Nicole that the chef was a “walking menu” who had to stop cooking to interact with new customers. Tim Everly was in the scene but the owner kept himself occupied with a mug of booze. Nicole’s hamburger order arrived after more than 40 minutes and her long wait was for naught as the food was not quite delectable.

The old interior

Taffer then entered The Olive Pit and met with the Everlys and saw the father versus daughter conflict. Tim outright admitted that he was drinking in the bar and that he didn’t want to relinquish control as he needed something to do and didn’t want to sit at home all day. The following morning Taffer gathered the staff for a meeting and immediately asked the employees if they were being touched by the owner. When nobody admitted to the question Taffer whipped out footage of the act and got Tim to admit that he was a failure.

To help with the other areas of the bar Taffer called for reinforcements in the form of two experts namely service trainer Kat Munday and chef Brian Duffy. Munday toured the bar area and saw shards of broken glass and mold at the bottom of the cooler where beer bottles were kept. Also the glassware was kept in shelves that were beyond sanitary.  She tested the mixing skills of the bartenders and her taste buds registered that the drinks were too strong.

In the kitchen Duffy was greeted by equipment caked in dirt and grime, and the improper storage practices ended up contaminating the food. The ventilation above the oven begged to be cleaned and the lone chef Julie was oblivious to the potential danger wrought by this neglect. Duffy also learned about Julie being the walking menu and that the bartenders do not take orders themselves and instead relied on her to do the job.

Taffer summoned the staff again for another meeting and this time he was fuming after learning that the bar was bleeding booze particularly on the weekend due to overpouring. His sights were fixed on the bartender who was on duty during those days but Tracy was quick to defend her employee from being axed by Taffer, and the act actually impressed the Bar Rescue host.

The experts worked on training the staff in preparation of a soft opening that night. Munday introduced pourers to the bartenders which effectively controlled the flow of alcohol to prevent overpouring. She also taught them a few specialty cocktails that were easy to brew. In the kitchen Duffy brought a new cook and hold oven for better storage, and he then taught Julie the new dishes for a menu designed to serve simple meals.

Upon nightfall The Olive Pit welcomed customers for the soft opening and they came in droves. Julie was buried in a pile of orders even with the help of Duffy and Tim. The bartenders were having difficulty in their new jobs as servers which resulted in wait times dragging out for too long. Tracy’s management chops were put to the test as one of the patrons had one too many for the night and had to be asked out of the bar. The way she handled the drunken customer earned her a commendation from Taffer.

The new interior

After the soft opening Taffer and the experts briefed the staff on the areas that needed improvement. The renovation followed suit which resulted in the change of the bar’s name from The Olive Pit to The O.P. with the tagline “good times since 1962”. The interior was totally revamped with new bar stools, tables, and lighting fixtures. The video games, pool tables, and pinball machines were moved to one side so they can be somewhat independent from the bar area. A new POS system was installed to help eliminate the chaos that occurred when the place was packed.

As it was the 50th anniversary of the bar Taffer had classic cars parked outside to match The O.P.’s theme. After all the changes in the bar Taffer had Tim announce his retirement and pass the torch to Tracy in front of the large crowd of customers. The promotional 1962 prices of that night ensured that the customers kept coming in and the employees were prepared for the onslaught with their new equipment and newfound confidence and cohesiveness. Tracy showcased her capabilities in managing the bar and the way she controlled the bar was indeed impressive.  A month later Tracy reported that Tim was out in Mexico and she singlehandedly controlled The O.P., and their sales were up by 20%.

The Olive Pit Now in 2018 – The After Bar Rescue Update

The new facade

The O.P. is still alive and kicking although the reviews on Yelp (where it is named as The Olive Pit) have declined since 2014, averaging on three to four star ratings with some comments aimed at the patrons and the unkempt environment. Some of the comments also mentioned that the Bar Rescue changes didn’t do much to improve the situation.

The O.P. doesn’t have an official website or a Facebook page.  Its Tripadvisor page is devoid of reviews as well.

Anthony Coyle
I write about anything and everything that catches my fancy, but mostly I try to provide the answers to the questions our readers ask every day. I'm also the guy who's always glued to an LCD screen of some sort.


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