The Sand Dollar before Bar Rescue
The Sand Dollar opened in 1976 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was one of the best haunts in the area if you’re into blues music. Thirty years later the genre wasn’t as fiery as how it used to be and The Sand Dollar too lost its charm, and eventually the bar closed down.
In 2009 Lisa Guerena purchased The Sand Dollar with some financial help from friend Dr. Paul Wilkes. Guerena tried to reignite the bar’s former spark by focusing on blues music which attracted an older crowd, although this shifted the attention of patrons away from the gambling tables. As The Sand Dollar got in the red Guerena went behind the counter to render hands-on assistance at the cost of neglecting her managing duties. Her co-owner Wilkes was also in the bar but his obscene nature turned away the female guests.
With debt hanging around $300 grand and the threat of another closure Guerena called for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue to save the bar from going out of business the second time.
The Sand Dollar on Bar Rescue
Taffer, along with his experts namely mixologist Jen J and pro gambler expert Anthony Curtis, inspected The Sand Dollar from the outside and immediately noticed that there was no way of telling what kind of establishment the place was. For recon Taffer sent his wife Nicole along with her friend Erica to get a customer’s perspective inside the bar.
A blues band performed as the pair entered The Sand Dollar and the patrons barely paid attention to the stage. The drinks were served on plastic cups and the bartender lacked knowledge of basic cocktails. When Nicole asked for food she was surprised to hear that The Sand Dollar don’t serve grub and Wilkes suggested that they try a different cocktail. The co-owner then made sexually suggestive remarks and taught the two ladies a vulgar trick. The last straw came when he did the trick to Nicole, infuriating Taffer who was watching through the cameras. Taffer went straight for Wilkes and the latter told him, “If I were hitting on your wife we’d already be out of here.” He then fetched Nicole and walked out of The Sand Dollar.
The next day Taffer and Nicole met with the two owners and Wilkes apologized for his actions. Turns out Wilkes was actually dedicated in ensuring a bright future for his love Guerena as he claimed that she “rescued” him. The following staff meeting revealed how much the employees didn’t like Guerena behind the counter as they wanted her to be a manager instead.
Jen J inspected the bar area and pointed out numerous sanitary problems ranging from dirt to live cockroaches. She then tested the bartenders regarding their mixing ability and it was clear that they were in dire need of training. Curtis reminded the owners regarding the importance of the gaming tables and how crucial Guerena’s management is in this part of the bar.
During the stress test the bartenders struggled with slow mixing times and forgetting the ingredients of the cocktails. Wilkes acted like a true manager and approached waiting patrons while Guerena was still having the urge to work behind the counter. The blues band did not fit the bar’s current atmosphere and some of the patrons walked out because of the music.
Two days before the relaunch Taffer had the sign taken down to pave way for its new incarnation, then he and Curtis explained to the couple that gaming tables should have better payouts and the winners should be commended. Taffer also added that having a food menu would encourage players to stay longer so they won’t have to go outside if they get hungry. For the drink menu the new cocktails were placed on mugs so they’d look like beer with matching foam on top, but when patrons drink it it’s actually a different kind of alcohol. Taffer believes that this will help The Sand Dollar build a unique brand. The bartenders spent an entire day learning the new mixes and they displayed massive amounts of improvement compared to how they were before.
After the renovation The Sand Dollar was renamed into Bar 702 and from the façade you can now tell that there are live bands and video poker tables inside. Inside the bar there is a “tribute wall” that celebrates the extensive history of The Sand Dollar with a host of pictures. To solve the bar’s lack of food Taffer connected the establishment to a neighboring Vietnamese restaurant through a small window next to the tribute wall. Patrons can choose among the three special dishes and make their order through a smartphone or tablet, and the meals will be picked up by servers through the window. The schedules of the video poker tables were adjusted to ensure better chances of winning and to entice more players into placing their bets.
Customers stormed Bar 702 during the grand reopening and the cocktails on mugs took them by surprise while the food items were a hit. The employees effortlessly handled the huge volume of patrons and Wilkes was actively welcoming guests and bidding them a good time. At first Guerena still couldn’t stop herself from helping her employees behind the bar, but eventually she changed gears and started delegating tasks to her workforce.
The Sand Dollar Now in 2018 – The After Bar Rescue Update
Around July 2014 Bar 702 was under new ownership when it was purchased by Brooke Alexander and the name was changed to The Sand Dollar Lounge. The bar focuses on hosting live music from different genres aside from blues, along with other acts such as open mic night. The Sand Dollar Lounge is raking in good reviews on Yelp and Facebook,
The episode was controversial due to the lawsuit Wilkes filed against the Taffer couple and Bar Rescue production company Bongo LLC in 2014. If you’re not familiar with what happened, Wilkes’ lawsuit stemmed from his confrontation with Taffer after he hit on Nicole which, according to the doctor, was done under the instruction of the show’s producer. Also according to Wilkes his offensive attitude towards the other woman was also per instruction of the producer so that his bar would stand out among the others being considered for a rescue.
His description of the confrontation between him and Taffer was wildly different compared to what was shown in the episode. Wilkes said that Taffer smashed his face with a cup, tore off his shirt, spat on him, swung at his head with a tablet, and punched him in the jaw. Wilkes then said that the attack subjected him to emotional distress, nausea, anxiety attacks, and a host of other conditions. Some question the fact that, if Wilkes was attacked like that, why did he agree to reshoot the confrontation and commence with the rescue?
According to website www.lacourt.org an order to show cause hearing was done on February 24, 2017.
Click here to visit their Facebook page. You can also visit their official website at http://thesanddollarlv.com/.