Triple Nickel Tavern before Bar Rescue
In 2005, after spending his 20s touring with bands, punk rocker JJ Gruder decided to go into the bar business for his second act. He was a traveling musician since high school and when he turned 30, he didn’t have much of a skill set, so he tried his hand at running a bar. Randy, a bartender, has been his best friend since high school and has worked at the bar since it opened. At first, Triple Nickel Tavern was a hardcore success – when they opened, they were the only rock ‘n roll bar in town. They were making around $25,000 at their prime.
However, JJ experienced a series of devastating personal tragedies in his family. Right after the bar opened, his sister died of cancer, and his mother was diagnosed and died a year later. A few years later, his older brother was diagnosed with cancer and he died as well. JJ admits that he gave up, as it was just too much. Randy feels that the deaths definitely took their toll on JJ. Now, JJ’s bar has a reputation for being his private punk rock clubhouse. Randy and JJ have been around each other for so long that it turns into hitting and escalates. It’s like a frat house, only the bartenders are old, so it’s more pathetic, bartender Steven says.
The clubhouse atmosphere has ostracized new customers, especially women. It’s just like a man-cave vibe, and bartender Sierra says that it’s more of a guy’s place. In 2015, JJ hired bar manager Jacob in an attempt to keep Triple Nickel Tavern from adding to its $150,000 debt. One of the most frustrating parts about managing the bar is actually getting the owner to comply with instilling structure – it seems to be more like a hangout for JJ and his friends. JJ frequently forgets tasks like buying toilet paper and cleaning. Instead of JJ respecting Jacob as a leader, he respects him more like a punk. JJ feels that Jacob overreacts to some things.
Now, JJ’s second career could be facing its final performance. Jacob admits that the Triple Nickel Tavern is in danger, and if they cannot change things now, the bar will be done in 6 months. JJ says that it crushes him when he does the books every month as things never get better; even worse, the unit Triple Nickel was his father’s unit when he served in the Korean War. If he ended up closing the Nickel, it would crush his heart. JJ has reached out to help from Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue.
Triple Nickel Tavern on Bar Rescue
Outside of the Triple Nickel Tavern, Jon and his two experts arrive. The Triple Nickel Tavern is a 2,500 square foot music venue with an L-shaped bar and an open kitchen. Jon starts by explaining that JJ is a rock and roll guy and loves his punk, then explains the history of the name behind Triple Nickel Tavern. His father was part of the 555 fighter jet squadron, so the name definitely has meaning. However, the front of the place looks rundown and worn out. At Jon’s previous rock and roll bar experience, Black Light District, the owner was so difficult that he had to walk out. Jon prays that this is not a similar situation.
Bartending expert Lisamarie Joyce says that the logo makes it look more like a country bar than a music venue. The front of the building has a garage door, and Jon guesses that it must have been a garage or repair shop or something at some point. The inside of the tavern lacks color, and kitchen expert Jason Santos says that it is very lifeless and full of safe brown and gray colors. Wooden vertical beams are strewn throughout the venue, so the bar looks absolutely like a country venue. Lisamarie says that most people she knows into punk rock enjoy dark and steel rather than wood.
Inside the bar, bartenders Randy and Steven sit with JJ talking at the bar. They are doing what they normally do on their nights off – hanging out at the bar. There are a few women in the bar, and of course, JJ slanders the woman by calling her “tits mcgee.” The entire car is repulsed. JJ’s friends act like the bar is his basement rather than a business. JJ is losing $2,000 a month and has borrowed $150,000 from his family, and without a miracle, the bar is ruined. Manager Jacob tends to bussing duties while bartenders Vincent and Sierra tend to their duties. Jason asks where the cook is, and Jon explains that the kitchen has never been opened. It’s about 8:00 at night, and when somebody orders food, the next thing they order is another drink. They are missing so many sales.
One of the customers admits that they would love a burger. Jon then points out that there are no women in the bar; the absence of women affects both men and other women. Women want to go to a place where there’s other women. If Jon can’t get some women to go there, then they can’t make money. Jon explains that this is a gentrified, unique neighborhood, so he sends in a party of spies from all different backgrounds. They aren’t part of the “club,” and Jon says that the regulars usually take over from feeling a little threatened. They don’t want new customers coming in because you take over their space.
The party enters the bar and ask for food, to which they are told the kitchen is closed. Bartender Sierra does not know how to make most of the drinks and does not know how the menu. Even the owner JJ does not know how to make the drinks, and clearly he does not care in the slightest. Her pour is huge and the customers are served nearly a half pint of liquor. Lisamarie Joyce is beside herself in the car, and surely enough, all the drinks are strong and disgusting. Steven then steps behind the bar and mixes a drink in obnoxious fashion to annoy James.
Jon himself is annoyed – the bar looks like JJ opened his bar and hired all his friends. Steven is clearly drunk and makes a waste of a drink that nobody ordered. A band tunes their instruments and gets ready to begin a show, but unfortunately, Jon has seen enough of the poor display from Triple Nickel Tavern and storms into the bar to begin his bar rescue.
Triple Nickel Tavern Now in 2018- The After ‘Bar Rescue’ Update
Finally, another successful Bar Rescue story! Triple Nickel Tavern is alive, open, and thriving to this day. Yelp reviews have yielded an incredible 4-star rating for Triple Nickel Tavern, as well as the coveted one $ rating, meaning that you can enjoy a full meal here for around $12-$15, non-alcoholic beverage included. The bar is rather small, which seems to be the biggest complaint, but the service and food are all excellent. Jon Taffer renovated the interior of the restaurant to feature more of the Triple Nickel theme, in respect to JJ’s father, and military memorabilia is now hung throughout the venue. Of course, JJ still has his punk rock nights here rather often, but the bands continue to draw large crowds. Triple Nickel Tavern is a rare success story.