Win Place or Show Before Bar Rescue
In 2010 Navy veteran Barry Rogers disembarked from a long career in the waters and used his savings to purchase a struggling biker bar in Fairfield, Ohio. He named it Win Place or Show but did not change anything hence the public still perceived the establishment as a biker bar instead of Rogers’ vision of it being a sports bar. Despite being situated in a prime location the bar did not draw in customers.
To help attract patrons Rogers called for his friend Rudy Garcia who was a guitarist of rock band Cincinnati Sinners. However the decision proved to be a mistake as Garcia, who became a co-owner, cared more about his band than the bar even though the patrons were not into his music, and he also brought along his wife Tracy as a bartender despite her lack of experience in such a line of work. To make matters worse Tracy was not as hard-working as they initially thought, and her laziness made the bar bleed almost 50% of its income.
As Rogers faced an inevitable collision with bankruptcy he and Garcia decided that it’s best to call for rescue before their ship sinks to the bottom.
Win Place or Show on Bar Rescue
Jon Taffer and his experts speed bartender Jason Bran and chef Aaron McCargo inspect the bar from the outside and, judging by the establishment’s signage, found it hard to pinpoint what the theme really was. Bran then entered Win Place or Show to gain a customer’s perspective on things. He ordered a Long Island Iced Tea which had too much alcohol, and the fried dish was put in a microwave before being served to him. Garcia was also spotted in a corner talking to a friend instead of doing his job.
Taffer followed Bran into the bar and met with the two owners. The Bar Rescue host learned from Rogers that the bar didn’t have a grand opening to announce its new incarnation. Garcia was protective of his band and denied that his music drove people away.
Bran toured the bar area with Taffer and the latter saw the equipment being potential havens for bacteria. The bartenders were ordered to clean every nook and cranny of the area but Tracy was not much of a help to them. In the kitchen McCargo noticed grease virtually everywhere, and Garcia’s habit of defending the staff’s unsanitary practices sparked tension between him and Taffer.
The next day Taffer summoned the employees for a meeting where Garcia admitted to drinking and giving away free booze which obviously incurred losses for the business. After the meeting McCargo familiarized the kitchen staff with the new menu that focused on barbecue, while Bran introduced bourbon and whiskey inspired drinks to the bartenders. After an entire day of training Taffer subjected Win Place or Show to a stress test that night to see if the employees can handle the pressure.
As the drink orders piled up the bartenders tried their best to keep up despite finding it hard to memorize the new cocktails. Tracy was not doing very well behind the counter which forced Taffer to swap her with Courtney who was working on the floor, and even with the change in position Tracy was still not doing a good job which cost the bar a couple of disgruntled customers walking out. The kitchen staff was also swamped with orders and Rogers himself helped expedite things by serving meals to customers. Garcia on the other hand busied himself by talking to the patrons. Taffer ended the test prematurely as customers began to leave in droves.
The following morning the employees were greeted with a cloth draped over the bar’s signage with the words Top Secret written on it. Taffer explained that he wanted to rouse curiosity from the passing traffic before the grand reopening. Afterwards McCargo spent the whole day training the kitchen staff with a focus on improving their serving time. Bran incorporated his speed techniques to the bartenders which replaced the incorrect way of pouring they’ve been doing for the past few years. Taffer confronted the owners and Garcia asked for a release from the business as his heart was truly into rock and roll. Amber, one of the bartenders, invested money into the bar and effectively replaced Garcia as a co-owner.
While Taffer’s team worked on renovating the bar, Amber and Rogers visited the radio station 96 Rock and promoted the upcoming new incarnation of Win Place or Show. Later on Taffer finally revealed the new identity of the bar which was now America Live Bar & BBQ. Inside they were greeted with a host of new furniture, billiard tables, and a revamped stage. A TouchTunes jukebox was installed, complete with karaoke and photobooth capabilities, and a SmartBar folding bar to help ease the pressure on the bartenders. To boost serving efficiency Taffer installed two POS systems and tap systems on the bar area, and in the kitchen every corner was scrubbed free of grease. A pair of sound baffles were hung on the walls to alleviate the problem in acoustics that plagued the bar earlier.
At nightfall Rogers welcomed a deluge of customers and the employees were more than capable of handling a huge wave of orders with ease. The new food and drink were warmly received by the patrons, and a performance from rock band Halestorm highlighted the night.
Win Place or Show Now in 2023 – The After Bar Rescue Update
During the episode, Jon Taffer decided to ditch the horse racing theme and renamed the bar to “The Garrison Tavern.” He renovated the space to give it a more modern and inviting look, revamped the menu to include mouth-watering dishes that appealed to a broader clientele, and provided professional training for the staff.
For a while after the episode aired, positive reviews came pouring in, with customers praising the improved service and ambiance.
However, despite all these changes, Win Place or Show seemed to struggle. The Garrison Tavern didn’t resonate with their loyal customer base who missed the old horse-racing vibe.
The new menu items didn’t seem to hit the spot either, leading to dwindling foot traffic and sales. In an attempt to salvage what was left of their business, Rick decided to revert to the original name – Win Place or Show – and reintroduce some of its classic elements.
But even this couldn’t save them from closing their doors permanently. The final Win Place or Show Update is that they officially shut down operations in 2015. The exact reasons behind their closure remain unclear – some say it was due to increased competition in the area while others believe it was due to Rick’s resistance to fully embrace the changes implemented by Bar Rescue.
As of 2023, the old location is currently empty. It was previously occupied by a restaurant called Mango’s Tropical Oasis but it was destroyed in a fire back in 2020.
In retrospect, Win Place or Show’s journey post-Bar Rescue is a stark reminder of how difficult it can be to change a business’s course. Despite receiving expert advice and undergoing a complete overhaul, sometimes reverting back to what one knows best seems like the safest course of action – even if it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.