The Hammer before Bar Rescue
In 2010 best friends Mitch Watson and Chris Sarrett opened watering hole The Hammer in an industrial area a mile away from the Las Vegas Strip. The bar became a favorite among blue collar workers and raked in $25 grand a month during its heyday.
Tragedy struck a year later when Watson was hospitalized due to pneumonia and his life-threatening battle with the illness put him out of work for a couple of months. Sarrett was left to manage The Hammer all by himself and his way of coping with stress was by drinking and partying with the patrons. When Watson returned to The Hammer he was greeted by the sight of extreme neglect as if it was a totally different bar, yet Sarrett insisted that he did his best.
Now with $200,000 in debt and a fractured friendship, Sarrett penned a letter to Jon Taffer with hopes that Bar Rescue can help turn things around.
The Hammer on Bar Rescue
From the outside The Hammer wasn’t much of an eye-catcher thanks to its bland façade and its signage only faced one way so cars travelling westward can’t see the bar’s name or what the building was. Surveillance through the cameras inside the bar revealed a lot of underutilized space which could accommodate more seats. For the recon Taffer deployed two TurboTap (a beer faucet brand) employees namely Mike and Tom into the bar. At this night Watson was working hard in the kitchen washing dishes while Sarrett was on the bar area puffing out thick clouds of smoke. The two spies were served Guinness that was too warm and the incorrect pouring made it too bitter. The pair’s order of French fries tasted like fish as it was fried side-by-side with catfish in a single fryer thanks to The Hammer’s limited kitchen equipment.
Taffer then went inside the bar but before he could get in he had to pull the door several times as it wouldn’t budge. He sat with the two business partners and Sarrett had a habit of lying and blaming other people. The owner was also guilty of not having a balanced check book for The Hammer and not properly paying his employees. Afterwards Taffer and expert chef Nick Liberato checked the kitchen area and discovered mushrooms growing inside some of the equipment and cakes of dirt dangled from above which could fall down on the food the bar served. Taffer was infuriated at the fact that the two owners were executive chefs yet their food storage practices in the kitchen made them look like amateurs.
The next day Taffer was welcomed by a spotless kitchen and during the following staff meeting the employees revealed their problems with Sarrett. Beer expert Adam Carmer was called in to teach the bartenders the proper way of pouring the perfect pint of Guinness. For the stress test that night Taffer wanted the bar to focus only on three food items and beer brands. The experts were equipped with whistles that were blown whenever an employee made a mistake.
Customers flooded The Hammer and the bartenders were quickly overwhelmed. Carmer caught several errors in beer serving and Sarrett’s attempts in lending a hand proved to be more of a hindrance to the efficiency of the employees. The owner also served as a poor example to his troops as he couldn’t remember the beer brands, let alone pronounce them properly. Watson was all over the place as he not only worked in the kitchen but also served orders as well. Taffer noticed that the cooler doors behind the bar were opened almost every ten seconds (as employees had to grab cold glasses) and this seemingly harmless act actually prevented the walk-in from settling to the proper temperature and increasing the risk of bacterial growth on the protein stored there. Taffer ordered the disposal of $200 worth of meat but Sarrett still wanted to take the risk and serve it to customers.
After the test Taffer was extremely furious at Sarrett’s willingness to use the ruined meat for the sake of making money. Watson was at his wit’s end and Taffer still showed faith that he could fight for the bar. The next morning Sarrett revealed that he sold the car given by his father two decades ago and the money he made was used to settle the payroll problems of his employees. He gave Watson a painting that served as a reminder of their friendship and the two patched things up for the future of The Hammer.
Carmer taught the bartenders the concept of how food flavors work in tandem with certain kinds of beer: Lager paired well with fish, ale with fried food, and bock with creamy desserts. Liberato constructed a food menu that not only went well with the other alcoholic drinks but were also a perfect fit for the demographic. 36 hours later The Hammer was renovated into Hammer & Ales with a bright new sign hanging outside the bar. The façade was also painted with a red mural to further enhance the establishment’s presence. There were now 32 seats inside the bar instead of 18 as the pool tables were moved to another room which was dedicated to games. New equipment was installed in the kitchen and the walk-in cooler was fixed so there will be no more temperature problems from now on. The TurboTap system ensured consistent ice-cold beer for all of their 24 taps plus a faster pouring time.
The customers that tried The Hammer’s new incarnation all had smiles on their faces, and Taffer left the premises with a rescued bar and a restored friendship.
The Hammer Now in 2018 – The After Bar Rescue Update
Hammer & Ales reported a surge in food and drink sales and gathered mixed reviews for a few years after the episode aired. People praised the extensive selection of beer, the great food, and the accommodating staff.
Unfortunately on March 31, 2016, the bar closed its doors for good. Based on the announcement on their Facebook page on March 23 Hammer & Ales was sold to new owners.
On May 2016, the bar was replaced with a tavern named Owl which was ran by Stephen Galdau. The bar also had two dozen beer taps plus vegan food, video games, and live music.