TJ Quills Before Bar Rescue
TJ Quills was a college bar in New Orleans, Louisiana, that was frequented by Darian Blanchard during his college days. So in 2012 he decided to buy the bar and save it from closing down. Unfortunately TJ Quills was notorious for serving booze to underage clientele which led to a police raid and an ultimatum that will put Blanchard out of business if he ever lets minors drink again.
To add to its list of problems TJ Quills was manned by Blanchard’s immature buddies who drank and partied while shirtless on the job which repelled customers despite being situated in a prime spot. Blanchard couldn’t reprimand his pals as he was afraid he might cut their friendship, and even when he tried the boys didn’t take him seriously.
Now with $400 grand in debt and a bar that could barely attract a patron, Blanchard decided to call for Jon Taffer and Bar Rescue for help before this party permanently ended.
TJ Quills on Bar Rescue
Taffer and expert mixologist Elayne Duke look at TJ Quills from the outside and immediately noticed that the front door had broken glass. For the recon Taffer deployed six sorority members and all of them got in despite one of the girls carrying a fake ID. The girls had the bartenders drink along with them and an inebriated Blanchard was oblivious to what was happening.
One of the employees followed the girls outside of the bar and tried to charm them back into the bar by removing his shirt. Taffer then met with Blanchard and learned through this conversation that the owner borrowed money from his mother to keep the bar afloat, and that the establishment has three months tops before going bankrupt. The bartenders surround Taffer and began throwing profanities at him after the host revealed the fake ID that slipped past security.
The next day Taffer gathered the employees for a meeting and taught them how to differentiate a real ID from a fake one. He also brought in chef Brian Duffy plus a host of new kitchen equipment to help the bar come up with a food menu. Taffer split the boys into two groups to man the bar area and the kitchen respectively.
Duke tested the capabilities of the bartenders and found out that the boys only knew basic cocktails, not to mention being incapable of making eye contact or striking a conversation while mixing. Duffy taught the kitchen staff a couple of easy-to-make dishes with the use of the new equipment. That night Taffer subjected TJ Quills to a stress test to see if the employees can filter out fake IDs, create palatable food and drink, and stay sober.
Another patron with a fake ID managed to slip through the gates and general manager Russell was forced to axe the erring security personnel. The bartenders faced the onslaught of customers and one of the boys named Lyle had trouble maintaining a smile while serving. In the kitchen Spellman, one of the staff assigned there, walked out of his post and drank shots after giving in to pressure. Russell’s mettle was again tested when he was tasked by Taffer to fire Spellman. After the stress test the experts discussed the weak links of the bar and what must be improved. Taffer fired Lyle as the latter’s behavior was not suited for this kind of work. Blanchard showed improvement as he was willing to ditch the TJ Quills name and that he didn’t take the firing of his friends personally.
The following morning Taffer met with Blanchard and his mother Lesia to discuss the bar’s current situation. Blanchard vowed to not ask for monetary support from his mother anymore and that he will treat his friends as employees and not as buddies. In the kitchen Duffy introduced a new food menu composed of lightweight snacks named after schools around the location. Duke’s version of the drink menu was populated with female-friendly concoctions named after classic literatures read in college. While the employees were trained by the experts, Taffer and his team began tearing apart TJ Quills to pave the way for its new incarnation.
36 hours later TJ Quills was replaced by The AnneX with the brightly-lit façade looking like the outside of a bookstore. Inside the dull wooden furniture were replaced with red stools, black tables, and a shinier countertop on the bar area. Premium liquor were put on display atop a Chill Rite Shock-A-Vodka system to ensure that the booze are always cold, and it also serves as an awesome way of displaying alcohol bottles. At the back area three POS systems were installed to speed up serving times, and a one-page menu displayed all of the bar’s food and drink items in a single glance. Some of the tables were equipped with a touch system that allows patrons to make orders without the need of calling a server. The ceiling was equipped with a Smoke Out system that filters out secondhand smoke from cigarettes to make the air fresh for the non-smoking crowd.
The grand relaunch was heralded with a small marching band outside The AnneX. Patrons with fake IDs were prohibited entry by the sentry Big Rob. The boys were initially pressured by the huge volume of orders from excited customers but they managed to catch up and serve drinks that were highly-praised.
Taffer left the bar with Blanchard not as a partyman but as a businessman and the workers no longer as immature boys but as responsible and hard-working men.
TJ Quills Now in 2023 – The After Bar Rescue Update
The episode featuring TJ Quills painted a picture of a bar that was hemorrhaging money due to poor management, lackluster customer service, and an overall lack of direction. After Taffer’s intervention, the bar underwent significant changes. The decor was upgraded, staff were trained in customer service and mixology, and a new marketing strategy was implemented. The name was also changed to ‘The Annex’ to give it a fresh start.
Despite these efforts, TJ Quills (or rather, ‘The Annex’) struggled to maintain the momentum after the Bar Rescue team left. Customer reviews were mixed at best, with many patrons expressing dissatisfaction with the changes. Some customers felt that the bar had lost its original charm and character, while others complained about poor service and high prices.
In 2013, less than a year after the episode aired, the bar reverted to its original name of ‘TJ Quills’. The reversal suggested an attempt to return to the roots and reconnect with the original customer base. However, this too failed to revive the bar’s fortunes.
Over the years, TJ Quills has seen a steady decline in popularity and profitability. In 2017, reports surfaced that the establishment had been sold to new owners who intended to rebrand it once again. As of 2023, TJ Quills is still open and in business, however, their future remains uncertain.
If anything, its struggle serves as a stark reminder that even with expert help and intervention, success in the hospitality industry requires consistent effort, innovative ideas, and flexibility to adapt to changing customer preferences.