Friday, March 31, 2023

Sandbar Sports Grill Update – What Happened After Bar Rescue

Sandbar Sports Grill before Bar Rescue

In 2007 Albert Borrero, a longtime customer of Sandbar Sports Grill, bought his favorite watering hole despite having zero experience in running a bar. The place reveled in success during its early years as the rowdy college crowd flocked in the University of Miami’s hot nightlife spot. Three years later a legislation established by the local city council drove away most of the bar’s young clientele.

Albert Borrero

Business crawled at a snail’s pace which forced restaurateur Matt Gentile, also Borrero’s close friend, to invest in Sandbar Sports Grill to try and save it from sinking. His efforts however proved to be futile and the bar was nowhere near being profitable. Borrero himself then became part of the problem as he was too focused on other things instead of helping out in the bar.

With the stakes getting higher along with the debts, Gentile has decided to call for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue for help.

Sandbar Sports Grill on Bar Rescue

The new demographic and regulations in Coconut Grove effectively killed off its nightlife scene and made dinnertime and happy hour more important. Sandbar Sports Grill failed to attract the affluent demographic thanks to its façade that lacked class and its interior that was packed with outdated equipment. The bartenders served cocktails mixed with juice that was squirted out of a gun, an act that made the drink too sweet, and their beer was flat due to the improper storage of kegs. The food items they served were still cold due to undercooking, not to mention being processed fare.

The old facade

Gentile personally worked on the floor with the employees while Borrero kept himself busy playing fantasy football at the back office. Taffer entered the bar and talked to the two owners, and Borrero was quick to defend his lazy ways. In the bar area cocktail expert Mia Mastroianni found bugs inside liquor bottles and mold beneath canned drinks. In the kitchen expert chef Gavin Murphy scraped bacteria off the cutting board and exposed the inedible items inside the refrigerator. Taffer and the experts walked out of Sandbar Sports Grill and threatened not to return unless the bar was cleaned up.

The next day Taffer was surprised to see how squeaky clean things were compared to last night. During the staff meeting the employees admitted problems in management and Borrero’s refusal of acknowledging the ideas of his people. Gentile was willing to leave Sandbar Sports Grill as he was tired of his co-owner’s uncooperative habits but Borrero eventually apologized and seemed to show a bit of improvement. Afterwards, to prepare for the stress test, Mastroianni taught the bartenders how to whip out a glass of hurricane using fresh ingredients while Murphy reinvigorated the kitchen with crisp seafood options.

During the stress test Borrero worked behind the counter and he was slow as molasses and couldn’t even mix one cocktail properly. The kitchen personnel led by Gentile were not used to cooking with the new ingredients hence their service times were down to a crawl. Taffer relieved Borrero of his bartending duties and the owner took it personally. After the test Taffer branded Borrero as the “cancer” of the bar but the latter still stood defiant towards the frustrated Bar Rescue host’s words.

The new facade

The following day Taffer sat with the two owners and finally had them see eye to eye. For the new concept Mastroianni introduced cocktails that made use of ice spheres. These frozen globes melt slower which maintains the cocktail’s tasty temperature and doesn’t dilute it too fast as well. Gavan’s contribution to the concept was to have customers personally cook raw fish and meat on a hot slab of rock.

After the renovation Sandbar Sports Grill was renamed to The Hot Rock Bar & Grille. The exterior was now given new and sophisticated life with splashes of black and maroon. Inside the bar the furniture were replaced with classier counterparts. Multiple layers of wallpaper, walnut finishes on the walls, and stone columns drove perception to the bar and attracted profit. The bar top was given a leather finish, the beer kegs now wrapped in keg skins, and four POS systems now ensured fast service.

Sandbar Sports Grill Now in 2018 – The After Bar Rescue Update

The Hot Rock Bar & Grille name didn’t last long as the owners quickly switched it to Sandbar Grill after Bar Rescue left. Some items from the show like the hot rock and the cocktails were retained, but most of the decorations Taffer took away were returned to their rightful places. There were a lot of complaints regarding the new name hence the decision to bring back the Sandbar tag.

Back to the old

The bar is still open with mixed reviews on Facebook and Yelp. People praised the food and the midnight atmosphere, while criticism went to inconsistent customer service. Many pointed out the filthy conditions of the bar’s restrooms, a complaint that has been around for a long time. The bar hosts live sports, food and drink specials, and live music.

Last September 2016 Sandbar Grill was among the best sports bars in Miami according to Miami Eater. On March 2017 the bar was ranked at #3 on the “Ten Best Dive Bars in Miami” list of Miami New Times.

Sandbar Grill maintains an active Facebook page which you can visit by clicking here, and also click here for their Yelp page.  Check out their official website at

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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