Saturday, February 4, 2023

Rocks Update – What Happened After Bar Rescue

Rocks before Bar Rescue

In 1996 Scott Terheggen retired from real estate and opened his own bar named Rocks in the Californian city of Laguna Niguel. Terheggen made good use of a loophole in the city wherein patrons can smoke inside the bar, and this advantage not only put Rocks above the competition but also ensured a good flow of income.

The old facade with a very small logo

Unfortunately in 2009 Rocks had to comply with the ban on smoking. To make matters worse another bar set up shop nearby and Terheggen’s rent increased. The establishment was in a state of neglect and was mostly empty during the day, and at night it was populated by customers who were actually friends of the bartenders. Despite being in an area that was populated mostly by college students, Rocks had a hard time attracting them.

As Rocks was clearly on the rocks Terheggen knew that he had to call for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue before the fires in his establishment die out.

Rocks on Bar Rescue

Taffer and his daughter Samantha first performed their recon outside the bar. Samantha found the group of unsavory-looking guys hanging by the entrance to be intimidating. Also on the signage the bar’s logo was dwarfed by the words “cocktails and dancing” which can make people mistake it as the establishment’s actual name if they were passing by on a vehicle. As Samantha was a seasoned bartender herself she was sent in by Taffer to gain a customer’s perspective.

Samantha was greeted by the smell of old liquor hanging in the air and the sight of chipped wall corners and nasty carpeting. The DJ had a habit of playing a song then leaving the turntable so once the music was done an awkward silence lingered until the DJ decided to return to his duties. She also noticed that the bar was devoid of women around her age and older men dominated the place, some of them even had the gall to hit on her. To cap off her recon Samantha ordered a drink which was bland at best.

The O Dark Thirtys sign on the counter

Taffer entered the bar and met with Terheggen, and through this conversation he learned that the owner was mostly letting the staff run the place and only visited once or twice a week. Taffer was incensed not only at the blatant attitude problem of some of the staff but also at the sight of Terheggen’s brother-in-law Pete who was drunk and hugging the female patrons. Pete was removed from the bar after a heated confrontation with Taffer. The Bar Rescue host also mentioned the presence of the social club O Dark Thirtys which made the bar look unfriendly to outsiders.

The next day Taffer called for a staff meeting and showed them footage of the O Dark Thirtys partying in the bar. He then revealed the huge losses of booze that amount to thousands in a single night. To help correct the pouring problems of the employees Taffer brought in speed bartender Joseph Brooke. In his inspection of the bar area Brooke noticed how unkempt it was. The bartenders were a bit sloppy and the concoction they whipped up for him “tasted like divorce”. While Brooke worked with the bartenders Taffer told Terheggen to close the bar during the daytime and instead focus at night as Rocks was more profitable when the sun was down.

Two days before the relaunch Taffer had the bar’s logo painted off to eliminate its old identity. Taffer wanted to tailor Rocks into a high-energy nightclub with a strict dress code that prohibited gang jackets. He then called his second expert namely DJ Green Lantern to teach the bar’s DJ Tony a couple of tricks to ensure a killer beat. In the bar area Brooke taught the bartenders speed techniques to boost their serving time plus a handful of drinks that now comprise the bar’s cocktail menu. At night Taffer opened the doors for a stress test to determine if the employees can keep up to the pressure.

Customers poured in and the orders followed suit. The bartenders were the first to falter at the onslaught with shot glasses slipping from their hands, overpouring, and forgetting the new mixes. In terms of music DJ Tony failed to rouse even a single patron to the dance floor. Terheggen was oblivious to the bar’s chaos and Taffer had to remind him to do his job. After the soft opening Taffer revealed the new bar’s blueprint to Terheggen before proceeding with the renovation.

The new facade

Two hours before the grand reopening Taffer revealed the bar’s new identity, changing it from Rocks to Power Plant. The bland and empty façade was now decked with velvet ropes and a new sign that makes the bar’s name clearly visible. The interior now hosted new furniture, new sound systems, and Taffer’s own invention named “butt funnel” which was a railing positioned by the dance floor to make patrons move sideways and encourage interaction and eye contact. The bar area was equipped with a new Turbo Tap system and the counter was swapped with a more durable material.

Terheggen welcomed the customers to his revamped bar and the staff were more than capable of handling the wave of young people, while outside the ban on gang jackets was enforced. As the bar was swamped with orders that outnumbered the available glassware DJ Tony made the save by firing up beats that encouraged waiting patrons to dance while waiting for drinks. The Power Plant was a hit with customers praising the drinks and the atmosphere.

Rocks Now in 2018 – The After Bar Rescue Update

A month after the rescue Terheggen reported a consistent flow of clientele. However Terheggen and the employees decided to change the name back to Rocks as, according to him, nobody liked the new name and that Power Plant did not indicate if it was a lounge or nightclub or anything. Terheggen also had two other bars in California that was named Rocks. They did keep some of the changes and equipment but made a couple of new repaints, and the butt funnel was removed. The bar also went against Taffer’s advice and opened their doors during the day to help boost the income.

The Karman Bar

The bar eventually closed around late 2014 but the Norwalk and Long Beach branches are still alive and kicking. The Laguna Niguel spot was now taken by a new bar named The Karman Bar.

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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Read