Artful Dodger Before Bar Rescue
Artful Dodger in Huntington, New York was purchased in 2006 and owner Mike Conforti relished in its success thanks to being the only bar in the area with a dance floor and DJs. For the first five years Conforti was able to rake in $50,000 monthly until similar establishments popped around the place and patrons chose those better haunts as Artful Dodger eventually became neglected and outdated.
In 2011 Conforti sought the services of nightclub promoter Brian Gordon who changed a lot of things in the bar and gave it the new name Radio. The rebranding came with a couple of new promotions that attracted a younger and rowdier clientele, and later on the bar’s fresh concept proved to be ineffective with nary a bit of improvement in profits. Tensions escalated between Conforti and Gordon as they pointed fingers at each other for Artful Dodger’s decline.
With a hundred thousand dollars in debt plus an immature customer base threatening to destroy the bar, Conforti had no other choice but to call Jon Taffer.
Artful Dodger on Bar Rescue
Artful Dodger’s dull exterior made it look like an auto repair shop from the outside and it lacked anything that could entice the locals in this affluent town. Things were also equally flaccid inside the bar as the place was decked with outdated décor and damaged furniture. Taffer visited successful haunts in the area which teemed with customers and he pulled a hundred of them to serve as spies for his recon. The scouts reported Artful Dodger’s disgustingly unkempt conditions with rat droppings on the couches and flies buzzing around and kamikaze diving into the drink cups.
Taffer personally witnessed the infestation when he entered Artful Dodger and saw drowned flies floating inside one of the booze bottles. The customers showered Conforti and Gordon with expletives upon seeing that their drinks were not in a very sanitary condition, and the owner drank the shot Taffer served out of the same disgusting bottle. The Bar Rescue team then spent the entire night cleaning and sanitizing every nook and cranny of Artful Dodger which revealed that mosquitoes were also part of the bar’s infestation woes. In the following staff meeting Conforti and Gordon once again blamed each other as to who was responsible for the bar’s sorry state.
With the bar now clean and free from insects the experts began their work in training the staff. Bartender Phil Wills demonstrated a few tricks to enhance the employees’ serving speed while service expert Jessie Barnes subjected them to several possible bar scenarios to analyze their multitasking capabilities. During the stress test the bartenders seemingly forgot everything Wills taught them and resorted to their own cumbersome ways of mixing and serving. The customers Taffer sent in for the night were mostly over 18 and some of them were becoming rowdy, and a few “underage” clientele were able to slip through the bouncers and order drinks.
After the test Taffer and the experts drafted the bar’s new incarnation. As the bar needed something unique Taffer came up with the concept of turning Artful Dodger into a speakeasy. Speakeasies were illegal establishments during the Prohibition Era that relied on heavy secrecy to avoid detection and closure. Gin, rum, and whiskey cocktails were prominent during those years coupled by sophisticated table service. Wills introduced some of these cocktails like The Bootician and the P’s and Q’s Ginger, and Barnes taught the bartenders hospitality do’s and don’ts.
After the renovation the Artful Dodger was renamed to P’s and Q’s Auto Body. The new exterior hid the establishment’s true nature as it was a speakeasy but the name gave a subtle hint that the place was a bar. The front garage door only led to a small ‘lobby’ and the true entrance into the bar was behind a secret passage. The interior was decorated with Prohibition Era adornments and furniture.
Hundreds of customers slammed the bar during its grand reopening night and they loved the new concept as if they stepped into the past. The employees showcased their improved mixing and serving skills with utmost confidence, and the bar no longer had uncontrollably-rowdy patrons.
Artful Dodger Now in 2024 – The After Bar Rescue Update
When Artful Dodger first appeared on Bar Rescue in 2016, it was struggling with a lack of steady clientele and financial instability. With Taffer’s help, however, they underwent a significant transformation – for the better. The owner was provided with new tools and strategies to better manage the establishment, the staff received professional training, and the premises were drastically redesigned.
Despite that, however, the bar struggled to maintain its initial momentum after the show According to reports, there were problems with customer service and quality control. The new decor and menu also failed to resonate with regular customers who were accustomed to the old laid-back vibe of Artful Dodger.
The bar continued to face criticism for poor management and lackluster service, which led to a loss in customer base. Financial difficulties persisted and eventually led to the closure of Artful Dodger in 2017, just a year after their appearance on Bar Rescue. The renovation and rebranding efforts simply couldn’t save the establishment from its ongoing issues.
As of 2024, there is a new business called Repeal XVIII at their old Huntington location.
If anything, their story is a reminder that while television makeovers can provide a temporary boost, they do not guarantee long-term success. It underscores the importance of strong management, quality service, and customer satisfaction in the hospitality industry. A bar’s success relies not only on its physical features but also on the experience it provides to its customers.