The Tailgate before Bar Rescue
The Tailgate Sports Bar in Santa Clarita, California was opened in 2003 after siblings Diane and Mike Miller invested their resources to fulfill their dream of owning a bar. The two took in their old man Pops as the manager to keep the business within family bounds, and as the bar became successful the owners had to hire additional relatives to keep the boat afloat even if they didn’t fit the bill.
These new workers in the form of cousins and godfathers brought nothing but trouble in the bar. Pops itched to axe these troublemaking relatives but Diane’s forgiving nature got in the way, and Mike was caught in the midst of this father vs. daughter tug of war.
$200 grand in debt, the threat of bankruptcy, and a fractured family relationship forced the Millers to call for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue.
The Tailgate on Bar Rescue
The bar’s unappealing exterior had nothing that could draw the crowd in, considering that the Tailgate was situated near three community colleges and in front of a very busy highway, and what little decor the facade had made The Tailgate look like a DMV agency. Through the cameras Taffer witnessed how Diane counted dollar bills atop a chopping board then godfather Robert used it shortly afterwards to cut lemons and raw chickens. Robert’s sister Connie acted as the security guard and nothing about her indicated that she was a guard. When one of the patrons pulled his pants down Connie didn’t even bat an eye and Pops had to reprimand the obscene customer himself despite Diane’s protests. On a positive note the non-Miller employee Zuzu tended the counter and she did a pretty good job.
Taffer stepped out of his vehicle and walked towards Pops who bailed from the bar after reaching a boiling point. He also had a taste of the family feud between the Millers when Mike was asked about who didn’t belong in the bar. Taffer left the bar and warned the family that they should get things straightened out which they fortunately did the following morning when the Bar Rescue host returned. He then introduced bartender Phil Wills and chef Brendan Collins to start the rescue. However Diane lashed out at Pops and Mike for not defending her from Taffer’s wrath last night which resulted in more family friction.
Collins inspected the kitchen and found a staggering amount of health violations. In the bar area Wills saw Zuzu’s impressive mixing skills and had the other bartenders prepare for that night’s stress test. To sharpen Connie’s guarding skills Taffer brought in security expert Doc who had a few stunt men stage a fake fight inside The Tailgate. Seeing that Connie was unable to do anything in times of violence Taffer reassigned her to a different task.
During the stress test a huge amount of orders quickly swamped the employees. Zuzu easily handled the drinks but things were opposite in the kitchen as nobody delivered the orders to the tables. Some of the food was undercooked and the neglectful staff failed to notice that one of the fryers was already burning. The fire was doused but the smoke had already built up throughout the bar, forcing Taffer to send everyone outside. The near encounter with an inferno burned away Diane’s kind nature and she fired Robert because of the incident.
After the test Taffer convened with his experts as they came up with a concept geared towards the young adult crowd, with shareable food and shots as the focus of the new menu. The next day Taffer sat with the Millers and, after exchanging apologies, the family drama was finally sorter out. Zuzu was promoted to bar manager and Connie was assigned to the floor while a real security personnel filled her previous post. Wills introduced several flavorful shots like the California 3 Party and The Jonfire, and Collins whipped out lamb meat burgers named Pop’s Chops with the use of the kitchen’s new equipment.
The Tailgate was renamed to The Shot Exchange with the bland signage now given a red tint and the windows no longer boarded up, allowing the bar to be a lot more visible to passing traffic. The same black and red hues dominate the interior, the menu items posted on a wall with decent names, and to live up to the name 50 more shots we’re a deed to their repertoire. The new concept was a hit among the target demographic and the Miller siblings now worked as a team with Zuzu effortlessly mixing drink after drink.
With both bar and family rescued, Taffer’s work was done.
The Tailgate Now in 2018 – The After Bar Rescue Update
The changes on The Shot Exchanged were loved by the younger crowd but the regulars of its former incarnation weren’t too happy with the new things. The television sets were still around and they turn off the incredibly loud music whenever there’s a sports broadcast.
The bar bid its farewell on March 14, 2015 as the Millers sold The Shot Exchange to focus on their growing families and to pursue different careers. The name wasn’t changed and The Shot Exchanged endured numerous mixed reviews throughout 2016.
The Shot Exchange is still open and they’re hosting live music, open mic nights, and comedy shows. Click here to visit their Facebook page which is pretty active with a lot of posts about their food specials and upcoming events.