Big Mike’s Sports Bar & Grill before Bar Rescue
On August 12, 2016, a storm system flooded the southwestern part of Louisiana with more than two feet of rain which was three times the amount of water dumped by Hurricane Katrina. The Amite river overflowed due to the deluge, and the town of Denham Springs was submerged in almost six feet of floodwater. The catastrophe devastated more than a hundred thousand homes and cost businesses around $2.3 billion in damages. Among the many establishments heavily affected by this is Big Mike’s Sports Bar & Grill.
Prior to the calamity, Big Mike’s Sports Bar & Grill was always packed with clientele and was loved by virtually everyone in the community. The business was so profitable that owners Mike and Jocelyn O’Neal almost made $1.9 million in 2015. However, as the waters began to rise, the pair were forced to evacuate. After their return once the flood receded, they were shocked at the devastation that occurred in their business. Not even a single piece of equipment or furniture can be salvaged. Also, it only took three months for their savings to run dry, and the reconstruction efforts of the bar were ground to a halt. As flood insurance was months away, the O’Neals were set to lose around a million bucks in potential sales.
With nowhere else to turn to, bartender Emily took to social media in hopes of getting the attention of Bar Rescue. With the help of an employee from a previously rescued bar named Spirits on Bourbon, Jon Taffer was alerted to the plight of Big Mike’s and plotted the biggest rescue the show has ever done.
Big Mike’s Sports Bar & Grill on Bar Rescue
Taffer arrived at Denham Springs and witnessed firsthand the destruction caused by the flood. He met with the O’Neals in their temporary home where the couple recalled how their home was inundated with four feet of water. The Bar Rescue host promised the owners that he will have the bar reopened in days instead of six months.
The trio then visited the remains of the bar where the renovation was at a standstill. Taffer was toured around Big Mike’s and was impressed by how vast the establishment was. Given how much work this particular rescue demanded, Taffer rallied local volunteers and contractors who are all willing to help the beloved O’Neals get back on their feet. Also, he planned to give the bar two separate concepts to make the most out of the vast space. Concept A focused on a casual and loose fun experience while concept B had a formal environment. The latter was given the name “crown room” based on the logo of whisky brand Crown Royal.
As the bar was being rebuilt, Taffer met with the staff in a separate location for training. He learned that most of the employees have been around for many years, a testament of how lovable the O’Neals were. Since it’s been two months since Big Mike’s was open, the skills of the workers have become rusty. To remedy this, Taffer brought in mixologist Rob Floyd and culinary expert Aaron McCargo. Since a stress test was not possible given the circumstances, the employees were instead subjected to an efficiency exercise where they must prepare food within seven minutes and drinks in 25 seconds.
During the exercise, it was evident that the bartenders were having difficulties in coordinating as a team. Most of them also forgot what they should do which ate up a lot of valuable time. Drinks were mixed at around a minute and 15 seconds which was way above their established time limit. In the kitchen, the employees there were paralyzed as they did not receive any tickets for food orders. Once they got to work, they showcased an impressive performance and managed to whip out dishes in just a minute.
The next day, Floyd met with the bartenders and taught them new cocktails that utilized Crown Royal like the Big Mike’s Whisky and Denham Deluxe. In the gastronomic side of things, McCargo fulfilled Jocelyn’s wish of Big Mike’s having a signature pizza. At the reconstruction site, the building materials were getting scarce so Taffer brought in Facilities Maintenance Management (F.M.M) who helped the team procure the much-needed resources for construction.
To test the new capabilities of the staff, Taffer subjected them to a soft opening where they will be using the new systems as well. Despite being slammed with orders, the team behind the bar were all smiles as they expertly mixed drinks in record time. The staff in the kitchen were initially dragged by confusion, but eventually they got the hang of it. The test proved that the employees were comfortable in their upcoming new work environment and that they can work cohesively as a team.
During the big night, the O’Neals and the entire staff of Big Mike’s were greeted with the sight of a resurrected bar. The interior’s dining area had new television sets and numerous tables. Two solid workstations featured POS systems, beer taps, and USB ports on the counters. The kitchen was given fresh equipment, including a double batch pizza oven and a high-end ice machine. The New Orleans Saints room was graced with memorabilia and tabletops. Finally, in partnership with Crown Royal (and a first in Bar Rescue history), the crown room was filled with tabletops, pool tables, and a bar with shelves fully stocked with the whisky. Taffer then showed the staff a video from Sean and Dee Tubridy, the owners of The Bungalow Bar which was rescued by the show after being destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The Tubridys gave an inspiring message and a $10 grand donation to the O’Neals.
Big Mike’s Sports Bar & Grill Now in 2018 – The After Bar Rescue Update
Big Mike’s is still open in 2017.
The bar received numerous positive reviews on their Facebook page. There were only a few complaints regarding the service time and food quality. Feedback on their Yelp page were also positive, although the latest review was way back June 2017.
They are regularly featuring food specials on their Facebook page, along with live band performances and events like trivia night on Wednesdays. They are also currently hiring for experienced bartenders, so you better send them a message if you are interested in the position.