The Bullpen Bar Before Bar Rescue
In 2013 Dan Serafini, a retired Major League Baseball player, opened The Bullpen Bar in Sparks, Nevada, with some financial help from his parents. It was a breath of fresh air for Serafini as he had lost a staggering $14 million through a divorce settlement and numerous bad investments. During its heyday, The Bullpen Bar enjoyed a constant volume of customers, and Serafini was forced to hire family friends Tara and Wynter as additions to the roster. Seeing that the bar was on smooth sailing Serafini devoted his time to Erin, his new wife, and became less hands-on on the operations of the watering hole.
With the boss gone the bartenders turned The Bullpen Bar into their personal party pad. The rowdy staff drank with the customers and gave no respect to Serafini. The owner began accumulating debt, and the annoying behavior of his employees roused his pent up anger. Serafini became more prone to outbursts and his personality took a complete turn.
Before the bar gets its final out, Serafini called for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue for help.
The Bullpen Bar on Bar Rescue
From the outside it was difficult to tell where The Bullpen Bar was since the signage doesn’t even indicate its name. The interior was clouded in smoke as the bar’s smoke ventilator was out of order. The beer taps were situated far from the bar area, thus costing bartenders a lot of valuable time just to serve a cold one. The bar’s chef Tom drank beer while on the job which made him move clumsier. Serafini and Erin went in the bar to grab a drink but they were forced to work as the unreliable staff weren’t exactly doing their jobs properly. As the owner busied himself in working, Tara and Wynter were busy drinking and goofing around.
Taffer went inside The Bullpen Bar and reprimanded Serafini for letting the employees run wild. One of the bartenders even blamed Serafini and Erin for the bar’s condition, saying that they weren’t always around. The owner defended himself by stating that the employees should’ve been reliable in the first place. Taffer warned that people should be sober when he returns the next day or else heads will roll.
When the Bar Rescue host returned the following morning, he introduced the concept of Drinks Production Average (DPA) to the employees. He explained that 40 seconds is the industry average time in producing a drink, and ideally bartenders should be able to make cocktails in around 30 seconds so the bar would be more profitable. To determine a bartender’s DPA, the sales time (in seconds) is divided by the amount of cocktails made and by the 40-seceond industry average time. Bartenders who get a quotient above 1 are considered slow. Those who get below 1 are fast.
Vegas taught Tom the benefit of tenderizing meat while using ingredients like oranges, green onions, and garlic to make them cook faster and have a better taste. Wills monitored the mixing skills of the bartenders and their DPA scores weren’t very impressive. Serafini made it clear that he was willing to axe underperforming employees even if they were close friends of his. For the stress test, Taffer split the bartenders into pairs who will work for 30 minutes while using colored cups to determine who needs some serious improvement in their DPA. He also advised Serafini to avoid giving in to anger.
In the stress test Tom performed admirably, with good tasting food which was cooked in record time, which earned him praise from Taffer. For the bartenders, Wynter was the only one who had no improvement on DPA score, forcing Serafini to fire her without hesitation. The next day Taffer had the employees train off site while the bar was being renovated. His vision for the bar had a focus on the local scene where singles and couples alike can comfortably come in to eat and drink. Wills whipped out drinks that had an outdoor theme like Campfire and S’Mores Martini. Taffer sat with Serafini and had him talk to former baseball manager Bobby Valentine for some words of encouragement.
After the renovation, The Bullpen was transformed into Oak Tavern. The signage was now clear and readable even from a distance thanks to backlighting that made it glow at night. The interior had a warm and inviting atmosphere thanks to the abundance of oak on the walls, tables, and on the bar counter. The beer tap system was moved near the counter, and three new POS systems that can calculate DPA every night were installed. Taffer also expanded the bar area with another work station to better serve huge crowds, and the two new ventilation systems ensured that there won’t be any more smoke in the air.
The Bullpen Bar Now in 2023 – The After Bar Rescue Update
Taffer changed the name to Oak Tavern, hoping to attract a more upscale clientele. The interior was completely redone, with new furniture, lighting, and a more open layout. They also introduced a new menu featuring craft beers and cocktails, along with delicious food options.
However, change wasn’t easy for everyone. Although some staff members embraced the changes, others were resistant. And despite the makeover, the bar continued to struggle with customer retention and revenue generation, its reputation from past incidents proved hard to shake off.
Alas, The Bullpen Bar didn’t have the fairytale ending viewers might have hoped for. Shortly after the episode aired, it was reported that the bar had reverted back to its original name and gradually slipped back into its old ways. The owner struggled with managing the bar effectively and maintaining the standards set by Taffer’s team.
Despite the initial optimism following their appearance on “Bar Rescue”, The Bullpen Bar fell back into disarray and finally closed its doors in 2019. As of 2023, there is a new bar at their old NV location.
If anything, their story serves as a reminder that while expert advice and intervention can provide a roadmap for success, it ultimately falls on the shoulders of the owners and staff to maintain these changes for long-term success.