Saturday, September 24, 2022

Heat Restaurant & Lounge Update – What Happened After Bar Rescue

Heat Restaurant & Lounge before Bar Rescue

In 2012 Vin Durano and his wife Vanessa opened Heat Restaurant & Lounge. During its heyday they were able to make $15,000 a week. Their success didn’t last long as the highly competitive Hollywood scene sent their business on a nosedive.

Samantha, Vin, and Vanessa

Samantha, Vin, and VanessaVin tried to save the bar by slashing prices but this discount attracted clientele who wanted almost everything for free. Bartenders lost tips as the owners gave away free stuff, forcing them to dance atop the counter for cash. Samantha, Vanessa’s sister, was hired as a general manager in an attempt to turn things around but she was quickly overwhelmed by the out of control staff.

Now the bar had a strip club vibe filled with rowdy employees and freeloading customers. The couple was buried in $200 grand worth of debt plus weekly losses amounting to $5,000 weekly. With no other choice left Vin and Vanessa called for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue for help.

Heat Restaurant & Lounge on Bar Rescue

Heat Restaurant & Lounge doesn’t say anything about being a nightclub on its signage despite being one. There was also nothing on the façade that attracted people inside. The interior had dark colors that made the place look warm and dull. The crowd inside was composed mostly of men with barely any women in sight. The two owners were around but they only stood while Samantha did her best to control the employees as none of them respected her authority and gave away free shots. The bar lacked food items even though it had “restaurant” on its name, and the fully-equipped kitchen at the back was never used.

The old outside

Tensions began to escalate when one of the intoxicate employees became rowdy. Vanessa, too overwhelmed by the situation, walked out of the bar. Taffer confronted her and Vin and threatened them that the rescue won’t commence if they didn’t sort out the staff. The Bar Rescue host returned the next day and, during the staff meeting, revealed the staggering losses of the bar using the inventory app Partender. Afterwards he called for Jamika Pesson, an expert Caribbean chef, to revive Heat’s dead kitchen. Expert bartender Phil Wills also stepped into the scene to train the servers as they lacked mixing knowledge of basic drinks. Pesson taught the two owners how to make a flavorful dish of chicken skewers in preparation for the night’s stress test.

During the test the bartenders handpicked by Wills to run the counter struggled to properly mix drinks, and in the kitchen Vin whipped out undercooked chicken skewers. Bartender Nini’s performance earned her praise from Taffer, and Isabela was kicked out after drinking and dancing atop the counter. Every single customer eventually left the premises and Heat was emptied even before Taffer could shut it down.

Two days before the relaunch Taffer sat with the owners and Samantha, and the two owners vowed that things will change from now on. For her commendable efforts Samantha was promoted as a full partner and was given full authority over the employees. Taffer’s new concept of the bar involved giving Heat a different vibe during happy hour and late night, thus attracting the two kinds of crowds and maximizing revenue. For the new concept’s food menu Pesson introduced light dishes that the ladies could eat while still looking cute. On the bar area Wills taught the bartenders cocktails that had Caribbean flavors like the Caribbean Dream and The TropiNINI.

The new outside

After the renovation Heat Restaurant & Lounge was turned to Elè which was short for “elevate”. The brand was more of a message for the owners and the employees, telling them to elevate their service, profits, and to basically rise above their old ways. The façade now pulled eyes towards the bar as it was painted in blue and yellow, along with minor details like a cocktail glass that served as a door handle. The interior’s walls were given new life with blue and yellow colors, plus the strobe lights on the ceiling exuded strong energy. The bar area was fitted with a glowing counter with a changeable color, the liquor bottles displayed on a brightly-lit shelf, and two kinds of menus and uniforms were made for happy hour and the late night scene respectively.

During the reopening the owners moved around the bar with pride while Samantha worked with the employees in providing excellent service. Elè effortlessly served the customers during happy hour, and during the late hours the bar turned into a nightclub much to the delight of the clientele.

Heat Restaurant & Lounge Now in 2018 – The After Bar Rescue Update

One month later Elè reportedly had a 30% increase in late night sales, while in happy hour the percentage was at 100. Isabela was also taken back into the fold after the episode aired.

What was left of the interior

After the rescue Elè had absolutely no reviews on Yelp and they also didn’t have a Facebook page. The bar held promotions on specific days like Simply Sexy Saturdays and Champagne Sundays. In an Instagram post from Heartless Entertainment the bartenders were apparently back to their old ways of dancing for money.

Around August 2015 pictures of the bar were posted online showing the windows covered from the inside with paper. The bar’s interior was empty and in an utter state of neglect. There wasn’t any information as to the reason why the bar closed but many people suspect that it was because they went back to their old ways hence their downfall.

Now a branch of Cabo Blanco restaurant stands on the old building of Ele.

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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