Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bar Rescue - Taza (Oasis Hookah Bar) Update

On tonight's episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer and crew are in Omaha, Nebraska to try to rescue Oasis Hookah Bar.  When Jon gets there, he notices a bad odor and also bad behavior from the bar employees.  The odor is supposedly a dead rat and the bar is also serving "toxic" drinks to customers.  One of the "toxic" drinks makes a customer puke after just one sip.

During the Bar Rescue makeover, Oasis Hookah Bar was renamed to Taza Nightclub.  The bar seems to be using both names and goes by Taza Nightclub/Oasis Hookah Bar.  Let's take a look at some information, reviews, and updates for Taza/Oasis since Bar Rescue came and made all of the changes to the bar:



Positive Reviews:
  • "I had a wonderful experience at taza/oasis. The staff and atmosphere was very welcoming and friendly!"
  • "The new hookahs they have are amazing, so smooth. This is what a hookah bar should be!"

Negative Reviews:
  • "Horrible. It took a total of 40 minutes for my friends and I to even be able to smoke the hookah. The hookah only burned for 15 or so minutes till it was done. We saw the staff standing around smoke hookah pens instead of serving us. It also said 12 dollars for a hookah for parties of 4 or more instead of what it really was. It was the worst service I've had at any place."
  • "Horrible service, rude, pushy, and unprofessionally. They also rip you off 5 bucks tell you it's super packed after they take your money then won't give it back, the best way to describe this place is CHEAP and TRASHY"
*Reviews from Oasis/Taza Facebook

Other News and Links:
  • Here are 2 preview videos for this episode on the Spike TV website. In one video a customer pukes after having just 1 sip of a drink.  That guy was supposedly allergic to citrus, which caused him to puke.  The other video has Jon Taffer smelling something bad, which is supposedly a dead rat that ate rat poison and could not be found.  While the bar staff can't find it, Jon miraculously is able to sniff it out like a dog and finds it.
  • Here is the Oasis/Taza Facebook Page, website, and Instagram,
  • Here is a post on a forum from Hookah John describing how he got chosen to be on the show as the hookah expert.  Also, Oasis got all of their new hookahs from Hookah John in January (Link).
  • Here are the Facebook pages of some of the employees - Jesse (owner),  Susie (bartender), Corrie (manager), Brandon, Nathan, and Nick.  Also Tyrie from MTV's The Real World was a bartender in this episode.
  • On a photo after the makeover with the staff and Jon Taffer, Corrie is not in the picture and comments on the photo " Now if you could only cut john out ;] nice photo though!"  So, I would expect her to get fired on the episode from Jon's recommendation.
  • The Oasis Bar has said Bar Rescue gave them awesome new furniture and fixed up their bathrooms.  They also said that the price points for the mixed drinks were higher than they envisioned, but that was Bar Rescue's recommendation. (Link
  • Bar Rescue did the makeover in November 2013, and recommended they turn the place into a 21+ nightclub.  Oasis/Taza went with that recommendation for a few weeks, but turned it back into 18+ all the time. (Link)
  • Hit That Dive was at the stress test and reveal, and will also be interviewing the owner Jesse after the episode airs. (Link).  If anything interesting is revealed in that interview, I will update this post.

Conclusion:

The reviews for Oasis Hookah Bar/Taza Nightclub are mixed and people seem to not like the cover charge or the limited seating after the Bar Rescue makeover.  There are some positive reviews of the new hookahs.  The bar does respond to the reviews on Facebook, so it seems they are putting in the effort to respond to customers and their reviews both good and bad.

Oasis Hookah Bar/Taza Nightclub seems to be happy with the makeover judging by their comments to people on their Facebook Page.  While they have kept the new furniture provided by the show, they decided to turn the place back into an 18 and over place with hookah rather than a 21 and over place suggested by Bar Rescue.



UPDATE - The owner Jesse stated in the comments section that his liquor license for Oasis/Taza operates under a Cigar Bar License.  Therefore, the state of Nebraska requires him to sell tobacco to maintain his liquor license.  That is the reason why he brought the hookahs back with the help of Hookah John.  I guess Bar Rescue overlooked that detail when doing the makeover.



*To see how all of the bars from Bar Rescue are doing, go to the Bar Rescue Update page, and also Like us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter to stay up to date with all things involving Bar Rescue.  

120 comments:

  1. Good catch I was wondering if anybody would notice that was Tyrie from The Real World Denver.

    ReplyDelete
  2. how do you have Tryie on and NOT MENTION IT!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That chick they fired looks like she has fetal alcohol syndrome

    ReplyDelete
  4. Amazing how people are failing miserably, cry for help, get Rescued, and then return to the failing system they started with!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hookah bars are cool...but the alot of ppl dont smoke and dont like the smell in there hair or clothing, i think Jon should of made the bar part hookah and part nightclub and just added better ventilation

    ReplyDelete
  6. As soon as I saw him in the first clip I knew it was tyrie! I had to google it to make sure! Sux I'm not closer or I'd stop in!!!! Hope taza works out great!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey Jeff, what they didn't mention in the episode is that the liquor license my bar TaZa (Oasis) operates under is a Cigar Bar License. What that means in Nebraska is that in order to operate as a business we have to sell tobacco or the Nebraska Liquor License Commission will strip my liquor license. Trying to take the hookahs away meant killing the business. Luckily, I reached out to the Hookah Expert on the show (Hookah John) and he set me up with an amazing hookah program and now we are doing better than ever.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow, I did not even recognize Tyrie and I've seen every season of Real World and most of the "challenge" shows. Maybe because he wasn't running around yelling like he was on the show lol.

    ReplyDelete
  9. you should not mix business with pleasure
    if you selling booze you don't drink on the job
    if you selling hookah you don't smoke on the job

    btw: is corrie have any connection with neil patrick harris?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for the update Jesse

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hookah seems pretty gross to share with other slobs. EVERY employee except maybe the one bar keep looked high as fuck. Is that why people smoke that? Mostly pot smokers that do hookah?? This episode kinda sucked. The staged shit is getting out of control.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ok. Thanks for the reply and I wish you much success. I have one additional question, why did you change the age limit?

    ReplyDelete
  13. If you remodel ANY bar, repaint, new chairs and lighting, business will improve for a few months until. . . . . . . you remodel again. People just like NEW, NEW, DIFFERENT, NEW, NEW, etc.

    So, remodeling and paint and new signage will bring in customers as well as new drinks.
    THEN, you have to keep inventing new drinks, keep repainting every 6 months, making it ALL NEW AGAIN.
    People will always want and ask: "What's new?, What's new?

    So, if you HAVE a bar, plan on saving money/ putting money aside/ for continuous remodeling.
    Something that can be planned in advance. . . . but done over 1-2 days.
    Pretty Girls/ wait staff, with BIG T i t s, also seem to help.
    Guys are such suckers for pretty girls, pretty smiles and pretty T Ts.
    The GOAL is to take money away from the 18-21 to 39 year olds.
    That is the GOAL of Bar Rescue. (Take money away from young adults to make a profit.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Shopping malls that the ownership owns. . .. many many malls. . . . SWAP their Christmas Decorations from mall to mall, just so that it changes every year, without much additional expense.
    (They rotate their seasonal decor and ship it to the next mall, so it SEEMS new to the people that live in THAT town.)
    So, change, change, fool them, take their money, fool them again, etc. Is the plan.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Some bar owners have been known to flip bars by paying for MASSIVE advertising, off the books, in cash, and building up a bar business that is "not really there."
    Then they SELL the bar, based on current income.
    Once the MASSIVE advertising drops off, the Bar returns to the sad ol'days of income.
    Tada!

    ReplyDelete
  16. doing business is reinventing yourself continously

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm glad Jesse went back to the Hookah Bar. I think it was wrong of Jon to change it and quite frankly, I think he changed it because it wasn't his area of expertise and he was uncomfortable and unfamiliar with hookah. We have two successful hookah bars in my city of 60,000 people so you can't tell me that a city with almost a half million people can't have a successful hookah bar! Wish you luck Jesse!

    ReplyDelete
  18. No, a lot of people smoke hookah. Why would mostly pot smokers do hookah when it doesn't even get you high?! It's filtered, flavored vapor, you need to do your reseach Toledo

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm just going off of what I saw. Was I wrong that everyone appeared high as fuck? Not that hookah gets you hight, but it's the closest thing a pot head can do to smoking weed in public. I don't really care, just my observation. Fuck it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. No that's not why he changed it, he said that Hookah was more for a big city and simply didn't think there was a market for it in Omaha(and the customers certainly didn't seem too enthused about the concept), so it made sense.

    ReplyDelete
  21. What they didn't show was that I actually created a pretty big customer base during my first two years of business (I only served hookah during that time). When they had me take the hookahs out we lost a ton of business and actually were making less money than ever before. Once I brought the hookah back the business came back along with it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a disgusting place. I guess that's the kind of shit that passes in the mid-west. How low can Jon go?!?!?!

    ReplyDelete
  23. The one thing people liked about our bar before hand was the fact that mixed aged groups could come in. For instance we got a lot of 21st birthday parties and their friends range from 20 to 25. We started losing out on that market to other nightlife venues that let minors come in. Also, the Omaha/ Iowa Metro has several universities and colleges within a 20 minute drive from us (Creighton, UNO, Iowa Western, Bellevue University) and Omaha has a very limited nightlife environment for these minors. Oasis thrived off of these customers for the first two years we were open (this was before we obtained our liquor license). Kicking minors out lost us more money then we gained from having 21+ drinkers.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ah Ok then that makes sense. Still a good thing the show came along when it did, as that remodel was fantastic and it seemed your staff benefitted well from the experience, also it was nice of that expert to help you get your stuff back.

    BTW, have you been in contact with Corrie since she left? What's her new full-time job? I would guess she's working at one of those bars in the Mixology district.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Yeah I stay in contact with Corrie, she's a friend of the family. She usually stops by the bar once a week to say hi to everyone. I don't wanna put where she works at out there but she has a nice professional job now and has been doing very well since the show aired.
    On a side note I do want to say that all the hate shes been getting on social media is really unwarranted. She worked hard during her time at Oasis and the show didn't do her justice at all.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Yeah I had a feeling she was better then she was made out to be on the show, glad to hear she's doing well.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm glad that Jesse explained here in the comments why they went back to hookah and being 18+. His explanations for both decisions make perfect sense. He seemed like a good guy on the show, I really hope they're doing well.I was actually kind of pissed when Jon decided to completely do away with the hookah, I felt like they could have had both.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hookah and cigarettes are not at all similar. Many people who don't smoke cigarettes enjoy hookah. Also, hookah smoke doesn't smell like cigarette smoke, and it doesn't cling to your clothes. It's quite pleasant smelling.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Sorry to hear Corrie is catching shit on social media, that really sucks. Hope she knows it will pass soon, the internet has a very short attention span.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Correct. I smoke a hookah all the time with fruity pipe tobacco (not shisha) in it. To me, cigarettes smell of burning hay and old newspaper. An odd thing is that cigarette smokers like the smell of my pipe tobacco but it is usually too cloying for their tastes. Shisha and good pipe tobacco lack most of the nasty additives in cigarettes and cheap pipe tobacco (e.g. gunpowder).

    ReplyDelete
  31. Given that you have to be a Class C liquor license holder to get a Class CCB (cigar bar) license, I doubt that there are any significant hurdles to converting your license back to Class C. (I suspect that the primary reason you bought new hookahs is not bureaucratic rules but that, as you indicated on the show, you really like running a hookah bar.)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Are you telling us that your business went downhill and your losses escalated after you obtained a liquor license? That would seem odd.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Rapid City? You have a hookah lounge (Sahara Nights) that offers hookah, karaoke and dancing, but no liquor. You have a hookah bar (Ifrits) that has a very different atmosphere than Oasis, plus a large food menu. (As a cigar bar, under Nebraska's regulations Oasis can't serve food.) It's a lot easier to sustain a hookah bar in a small market if you can serve drinks and food to nonsmokers, as opposed to being limited to alcohol and tobacco products.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Jesse, it looked like Corrie primarily worked as a regular employee of the bar, not as a manager. Was she in fact a full-time manager? If so, why was she talking about how little she was paid, due to the low business levels? It sounded like she was getting a server's wages and was trying to scrape by on tips, which is not a proper way to compensate a manager.

    ReplyDelete
  35. You write, "The odor is supposedly a dead rat and the bar...."

    I don't think that there's any question but that there was a dead rat in the bar, as it was right there on camera. I would not be surprised if a producer found it in advance of Jon's big scene, but I have no reason to doubt that it was there and that it smelled terrible.

    ReplyDelete
  36. You write, "In one video a customer pukes after having just 1 sip of a drink. That guy was supposedly allergic to citrus, which caused him to puke."

    It's very important that when a customer asks a question about ingredients, he get a better answer than "I don't know". Customers do have allergies and the consequence of not being able to tell somebody about a product's ingredients or giving them wrong information can be a lot worse than "puking".

    ReplyDelete
  37. If business was good why the rescue? It seemed apparent the inside was old/dirty, staff was clueless, hookahs were yuck, no one knew how to operate one. Maybe I'm missing something.

    ReplyDelete
  38. http://www.omaha.com/article/20140501/GO/140439818#.U2MJNseI2kG


    So you're claiming Jon Taffer didn't help your business in this interview but here in the comments you say you're doing better than ever. So, your bar was disgusting and you were in debt, Taffer comes in to help out, suddenly you're "doing better than ever" but it's not to his credit? ok.

    ReplyDelete
  39. No the loses occurred after we stopped serving hookahs like Bar Rescue recommended. Our sales had grown when we originally obtained the liquor license in June of 2012. After we implimented Bar Rescues strategies of no hookah and minors the customers that would usually patronize my bar stopped coming and the party crowd never showed up to take thier place.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Although I do enjoy running a hookah bar the decision was based on revenue. If when we tried the no hookahs and minors we saw a spike in business then I would have gone the route to try change to a Class C liquor license (which involves a decent amount of money and meetings with the City Council and the NLLC). However, after I saw a significant drop in business by not having minors and hookahs I saw no advantage to go for a Class C license. It's not that it can't be done but it didn't make sense to do it.

    ReplyDelete
  41. No, what I said was “What they didn't really show is that actually taking away the hookahs hurt our business a lot. ... Liquor sales went up — but we lost more money because of the fact that we weren't doing the hookahs anymore.”
    The strategy that they gave didn't work out for us. We didn't get the club packed with party people or drinkers, we got upset customers that wanted hookah and went elsewhere to get it. However, the other advice and tutelage that Jon and the experts (Joe and Hookah John) gave us helped us to stay on track with the cleanliness, service and presentation. I give credit to Taffer for helping us get to where we are. We took his advice, fit it in with a different strategy (since the new one wasn't working for us) and made it work for us.

    ReplyDelete
  42. No, she was a manager working about 30 hours a week. The show didn't revel all the other duties she did, it made her look very one dimensional. She received a higher base pay and tips on top of that. The pay was respectable for the work and the revenue coming in. Out here, at least, I know of several bars that pay the managers a base pay plus tips or percentage of sales.

    ReplyDelete
  43. For exactly the reasons you mentioned. The service wasn't the greatest, there were some cleanliness issues (though not as bad as the show made it out to be) and the hookahs were not up to the standard that they should've been. We were making enough money for payroll, taxes, rent and other bills but not enough to be where if we had a bad weekend we weren't screwed. I went several pay periods without paying myself to make sure that other bills were being paid. Pretty much every dollar coming in was going right back out.

    ReplyDelete
  44. If you remember from the scene he finished the other girls drink, not his own. But in this interview:

    http://www.omaha.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140430/GO/140439860/1707

    He explains it more clearly

    Omaha.com: Did the drink make you sick because it was dirty?

    Comstock: No. Long story short, it tasted like this other drink that made me sick. I can’t drink lemonade, anything that tastes like it. When I was younger, fermented lemonade stuff got me sick, and I’ve never been able to drink that stuff.



    So it wasn't necessarily an allergy that made him sick but an aversion to the taste of lemonade.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Yeah, there was a dead rat there, however my staff and I aren't sure that where they found it is where it actually died. We had smelled the rat a few days before the crew got there, however, the smell wasn't anywhere near the area where it was found. They had complete access to every nook and cranny in the bar while setting up the lights and cameras they may have found it some place else and placed it where they found it on camera.

    ReplyDelete
  46. It doesnt make sense that you have universities nearby and a +18 drinking age--and you couldnt fill the place up with a dance crowd??? You had to be do something wrong because that is the EXACT market that a dance venue is suited for. You must have done a few things wrong: 1) Poor Promotion . Did you hire hot promoters who have a following in the area? Good promoters can pack a club on slow nights like a wed or thurs as well as the weekend.
    2) HOT DJ's -- did you rotate several hot dj's who also have a following and can play different types of music? todays dj's can bring a loyal crowd wherever they go. worth the money to pay and not be cheap. you also get FREE marketing when they post on their social media.
    3) Did you try theme nights? Salsa sundays? reggae weds/ hip hop fridays etc. the musical themes are endless and can draw NEW visitors who would never come to your bar just for hookah.


    I've worked in the club business for yrs and if you follow those steps you should have a line outside 3-4 days a week easily!

    ReplyDelete
  47. We followed the exact game plan that Bar Rescue gave us. The thing is if the show aired a few weeks or even a month after they did the remodel we might have gotten a decent shot of making the concept work, However, the remodel happened over 6 months ago and there was a lot of market confusion as to who we were.
    We did a New Years party with the top radio station in town (Power 106.9) and we keep the top DJ's in Omaha in rotation up here (a lot of radio DJ's). The thing about the Omaha market is that 1) There are a number of Clubs out here with deeper pockets than I, that can afford to take out radio promotions, magazine ads and other such advertisement. 2) A number of the promoters up here have a "tough crowd." They'll pack the place out BUT at the risk of getting a Tavern Report and ending up with damaged property, which has happened here before, which is why I steer away from promoters now. However, we do have an in house promoter (Tyrie from the Real World) and he brings in decent crowds with his events.
    We tried a number of theme nights but due to people not knowing who we were anymore it ended up being wasted money.
    There are a lot of circumstances that went against after the remodel. The main one being that no one knew who we were. Educating the market on your existence with a shoe string budget is hard to do. Especially in the Nebraska winter. When we first opened in July of 2010 I had a street team that would go out, hand out flyers, smoke hookah in the Old Market and give out coupons. It's a lot harder to do that with 6 inches of snow and a chill factor of -20 out.
    Believe me, we gave it the old college try but it just didn't work out.

    ReplyDelete
  48. The problem with bar rescue is that they turned your bar into a CLUB where john taffer is not an expert. (hmm maybe i need to do my own show CLUB rescue) cuz its a whole different beast entirely. your claim "We tried a number of theme nights but due to people not knowing who we were anymore it ended up being wasted money. " makes me wonder where you spent the money. Flyers are a waste of money-- social media is the best way to promote and its free! provided you have the time to put into it. you shouldnt have to spend too much money getting the word out that you have a great dance club. But i must say you have to be very creative to get peoples attention and to find out where people are at. When i was working at a club in dayton ohio -- I posted events on dating sites like Ok Cupid and Plenty of Fish that reached out to hundreds of singles for little or no money. also try Meetup.com where you can invite specialized groups to come to your venue. my favorite was to reach out to the fashion/model groups. they will pack it in and are usually a mature crowd. I spent a total of $60 to get over 3 months of free promotion that generated lines at the door. the sad part is once the owner got established as a hot spot he no longer needed my services (breaks)-- anyway, seems like you guys have got a grasp of what you want. hope some of my advice helps--keep puffin!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Actually Social Media is where almost 100% of advertising is at. Our facebook is at 4,800+ likes, we use instagram and twitter regularly. We just began doing paid advertising with Yelp. We are working on getting the local Lingerie Football team to do an event here. However, I never thought of posting events on dating sites or the local model troupes. I will add that onto our list of social media outlets. Thanks for the advice.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Actually Social Media is where almost 100% of advertising is at. Our facebook is at 4,800+ likes, we use instagram and twitter regularly. We just began doing paid advertising with Yelp. We are working on getting the local Lingerie Football team to do an event here. However, I never thought of posting events on dating sites or the local model troupes. I will add that onto our list of social media outlets. Thanks for the advice.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I am no expert on these things, but promoting always seemed like a detail Bar Rescue ignored. Jon says they need to shift to a different demo, and redecorates to a bar that would appeal to that demo. But saying they need to bring a different type of customer doesn't make it happen. Bar Rescue in most episodes seems to do very little to promote the changes so the audience he says they should get actually know to come in. I mean so it's called Tazza and not Oasis. How will locals know it is now a night club and the hooka's are gone from that? They won't. Then the regulars stop coming in because they are the only ones who DO know since they found out when they came in and were disappointed.

    Yes, the bar owners can and probably should do it. But if these people are in debt as much as the show says how are they supposed to pay for it, especially immediately after being closed for a week?


    The premise is supposed to be that Bar Rescue gives them the tools to turn it around. But promotion is a big part of that, maybe the biggest part. And it seems the show redesigns the bar, often with machinery that is rental and Bar Rescue pays only for 2 or 3 months of, meaning in the long run they make their debt higher. And then does nothing to promote the changes.

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Bar Rescue. But the idea that Jon comes in and in a week solves all their problems and they thrive from his magical wisdom is largely smoke and mirrors.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hey asshole have you seen the show? It doesn't matter where you go there are disgusting bars. It is not just in the Midwest do your research or shut the fuck up.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Jesse, if the bar was losing money after you obtained a liquor license, no matter how great a business you had built before obtaining the license, you had not built a business sufficient to sustain the bar. That's not to say that your inability to capitalize on the new business model didn't result in your losing revenue over the months between filming and the airing of the show, but there's a cautionary maxim you may have heard about trying the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome.

    I do agree that if you change your business model such that you no longer serve a segment of your former customer base, but do not market the business to new customers interested in the new model, your business will suffer. That goes without saying.

    ReplyDelete
  54. "...But the idea that Jon comes in and in a week solves all their problems
    and they thrive from his magical wisdom is largely smoke and mirrors...."

    Even if you take Bar Rescue at face value, for a lot of the bars they rescue the post-turnaround figures (e.g., "Liquor sales are up 30%") often seem more like the difference between losing money and possibly breaking even than evidence of a successful, stable turn-around and new, profitable business model. That is one of the weaknesses of all turn-around "reality TV" -- the shows don't have the time to do the additional work necessary to create a stable, tested, well-managed business model. You can only do so much with management and staff in three days, and you can't do anything about location.

    I was hired by a former employer, many years ago, to turn around a business I had formerly managed. I had almost complete staff turnover over the next two months, followed by a month of working with the new permanent manager. Most of the staff members, trained by a weak manager and used to his low expectations, simply weren't prepared to step up their game -- and some were aggressively defensive of their perceived right to slack off. I see a lot of that in the "updates" posted here, with bars where you know that the management and staff don't care enough to step up their game.

    ReplyDelete
  55. I was speaking directly to your claim that "in order to operate as a business we
    have to sell tobacco or the Nebraska Liquor License Commission will
    strip my liquor license", which I think we can agree doesn't tell the whole story as you could have switched back to a Class C license had you chosen to do so. You could also have turned yourself into a conventional cigar bar, stepped up tobacco-related merchandise sales, set up a separate hookah area so that you better serve the non-hookah market in other areas, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I can really see how the delay between the filming and the air date could affect the benefit you would draw from free publicity. I think that there are steps that a business like yours can take to market itself on the cheap, particularly in anticipation of Bar Rescue airing, some of which were discussed above by others.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Jesse, you don't pay a manager a sub-minimum wage and tell her to make it up in tips. Management positions must be paid at least the standard minimum wage (and no decent manager would work for minimum wage). If you are stating that you bumped Corrie up a couple of bucks from $2.13/hour as a manager, and had her doing tipped services to boost her income even as she was supposed to be managing your business, she has a potential wage claim.

    Quoting the Federal Department of Labor, "When an employee is employed by one employer in both a tipped and a non-tipped occupation, such as an employee employed both as a maintenance person and a waitperson, the tip credit is available only for the hours spent by the employee in the tipped occupation."

    http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs15.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  58. Jesse, the fact that you don't know whether or not the dead rat was always in that location is the story, even if we assume that a producer found it elsewhere and moved it, something that would be unnecessary and thus unlikely. Next time you have rats, I suggest employing a professional exterminator.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Accepting all of that as true, it nonetheless remains the case that when a customer asks, "What's in your [food/drink]", the customer should get an accurate answer.

    Perhaps you've never seen somebody experience an allergic reaction after being giving inaccurate information about what they were being served. It's not a pleasant experience to watch, and it's far less pleasant if you have the allergy.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Oh I have, my son has a food allergy. All of our new menus have the ingredients that go into the drinks.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Oh I have, my son has a food allergy. All of our new menus have the ingredients that go into the drinks.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Alot of presumptions. The minimum wage for servers here is $3.25 and her hourly was well above that. The percentage of sales and tips more than brought her above $10 an hour.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Club/ conventional cigar bars don't work here. One opened up the same time we did in 2010 (Raven NIght Lounge). They served cigars, hookahs and liquor, they closed within the year, so that avenue doesn't work.
    But to your main point, let me address that more clearly. I have to submit monthly reports on tobacco and liquor sales to the city and quarterly reports to the state. If my tobacco sales don't hit a certain percentage for the month then they will take the license away. That being said, to operate under my Cigar Bar License I HAVE TO have monthly tobacco sales. A full calendar month without tobacco sales means that I loose the license.We did no hookah and limited hookah between mid November and mid December, luckily the hookah sales from the beginning of November and the end of December were enough to have us meet our percentages. And seeing as how I was losing money with no tobacco sales why would I spend the time, money and energy to switch to a Class C license which would in fact lock me out of selling the very product that had driven us for 3 years.
    So yes, I did have the choice to switch to the Class C, we can agree on that, but we can also agree that in doing so that would mean my bar would no longer be open.

    ReplyDelete
  64. To bad! It sounds like u had all the answers, and you spent John's money..smart!.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Jesse, I applaud you for responding here and clarifying things. I have to assume that the "reality" of the situation was not as bad as shown?
    1) Bathrooms, they were dirty, un-flushed toilets and if I remember no seat in ladies room?
    2) Was BR and Jon aware of the restriction on your license when they made the change?
    3) The rat?
    4) The general mess and dirt?
    5) Did you have to sign any contract for non-disclosure or to continue the BR concept?
    6) How early did the "hidden cameras" go in prior to Jon actually showing up?
    I wish you well

    ReplyDelete
  66. Jesse, the way the present the show is confusing? Jon clearly states that the back bar (former hookah prep area) grossed more sales than hookah sales? Was that accurate for that one night?
    Jon cited very specific numbers regarding hookah, were they not accurate or reflective of your experience?

    ReplyDelete
  67. Jesse
    Were you contractually obligated to use Jon's "formula" for a period of time?
    Did BR leave you worse off than prior to them arriving?

    ReplyDelete
  68. Jesse. what you describe is not atypical for small business owners in general and more specifically bar/restaurant owners. It's always that 10%-20% difference that would put you over the top into steady profitability.

    ReplyDelete
  69. owesome! Good luck-- and yall owe me some drinks if I ever make it out there ;)

    ReplyDelete
  70. Great ! Good luck-- and yall owe me some drinks if I ever make it out there ;)

    ReplyDelete
  71. very true. But lets not forget, besides the physical renovation that Taffer brings, Im sure the promotion from being on TV airing is extremely valuable.

    ReplyDelete
  72. I have never argued that other tobacco business models would work where hookah was failing; I have simply pointed out that you had a lot of options other than "Go back to hookah or lose your liquor license", as you had previously suggested would happen.

    As for whether you would be better served by having better marketed a new night club-style business consistent with Jon's vision, versus reverting to a hookah bar, we will never know.

    ReplyDelete
  73. That's a fair criticism of all "rescue" shows, but ideally it is only the audience who believes that magic is possible. If you're a businessperson who belongs in the owner's seat of a bar, restaurant, bakery, hotel, or whatever else they're rescuing these days, you had best do something more than nothing (or, worse, reverting to a prior failed model when "doing nothing" proves unsuccessful) after making your changes.

    ReplyDelete
  74. A lot of assumptions, yes, but you just proved them correct. You have just suggested that you improperly paid her less than minimum wage for her tasks as manager, and you just improperly took a tip credit for the hours she spent managing the bar. Again, "the tip credit is available only for the hours spent by the employee in the tipped occupation".

    ReplyDelete
  75. Just a little background on why the rat was there. Not that downtown Omaha has a rat problem, but like any major city there are many rats running in the alleyways to and from the dumpsters, like the 5 dumpsters currently sitting in the alley behind us that belong to neighboring restaurants. For a description of where my bar is located, it is connected to two units on either side of us that has been vacant for 7-9 years and some of the vermin move there when the weather gets cold (we actually had a bat problem when we first moved in because the place had sat vacant for 4 years, we didn't know this before we moved in). Also we don't serve food here like the other bars on the show and all our tobacco and liquor are sealed, the rat wasn't in here for food. I suspect the rat was there because the week leading up to the filming there was a cold snap in Omaha and the rat was trying to take refuge in the closest warm building, which happened to be mine. I can't go into detail but I was urged to "not really look for the rat."
    Should me and my staff made a harder effort to look for the rat, yes. But at the time we were trying to get on the show and in the words of some higher ups "We need a bar to rescue for it to be on bar rescue." I take full responsibility for it though, I had the choice to look harder for it, but at the time I was desperate to get on the show.

    ReplyDelete
  76. She made $7.25 an hour plus percentage of sales or I tipped her from the door based on the other servers tips (which ever was higher). Fact of the matter is she made above minimum and was paid accordingly for her position and duties.
    Aside from doing inventory and other managerial duties she also did serve on busier nights.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Just a little background on why the rat was there. Not that downtown Omaha has a rat problem, but like any major city there are many rats running in the alleyways to and from the dumpsters, like the 5 dumpsters currently sitting in the alley behind us that belong to neighboring restaurants. For a description of where my bar is located, it is connected to two units on either side of us that has been vacant for 7-9 years and some of the vermin move there when the weather gets cold (we actually had a bat problem when we first moved in because the place had sat vacant for 4 years, we didn't know this before we moved in). Also we don't serve food here like the other bars on the show and all our tobacco and liquor are sealed, the rat wasn't in here for food. I suspect the rat was there because the week leading up to the filming there was a cold snap in Omaha and the rat was trying to take refuge in the closest warm building, which happened to be mine. I can't go into detail but I was urged to "not really look for the rat."
    Should me and my staff made a harder effort to look for the rat, yes. But at the time we were trying to get on the show and in the words of some higher ups "We need a bar to rescue for it to be on bar rescue." I take full responsibility for it though, I had the choice to look harder for it, but at the time I was desperate to get on the show.

    ReplyDelete
  78. She made $7.25 an hour plus percentage of sales or I tipped her from the door based on the other servers tips (which ever was higher). Fact of the matter is she made above minimum and was paid accordingly for her position and duties.
    Aside from doing inventory and other managerial duties she also did serve on busier nights.

    ReplyDelete
  79. Here's an explanation to your questions
    1) That bathroom had been locked for about 2 weeks prior to the show coming because the toilet seat had broken off and that particular toilet was broken. I'm guessing the production crew unlocked it for the show.
    2) Yeah he was aware of it, we talked about it briefly, he said to just offer hookah once a month. However, doing once a month of hookah wouldn't have been able to make us hit our percentages that we needed for the liquor license.
    3) I responded about the rat in one of your previous posts
    4) We were asked to not throw out the weekends trash and leave it out.
    5) Yeah there was ALOT of legal paperwork making us keep our mouth shut leading up to the actual airing of the show
    6) The cameras were set up the day Jon came in. However, there was a camera crew there all the weekend before.

    ReplyDelete
  80. The number he quoted from the back bar was WAY off. We made about $800 that night from the backbar. We usually made $1200 -$1500 on a weekend night from hookah sales.
    The numbers he cited were based off of credit card sales from people 21+ in a ten mile radius of where we are at. He negated cash sales (which was about 65% of the revenue) and the minors that spent money, both cash and card.

    ReplyDelete
  81. No, we weren't obligated to keep the formula. I could've sold all the furniture and fixtures they gave us the next day if I wanted to.
    BR left us better off in the since that the place looked way nicer then before and the training helped all my staff, but worse off in the since that it drove away all the old customers and left us kind of spinning for a crowd until the show aired (6 months later).

    ReplyDelete
  82. Jesse, thanks for your reply. There have been several accusations that BR doesn't do their homework and often leaves "rescues" with more debt, equipment leases, permit/license issues, etc...?

    ReplyDelete
  83. UdonNo, As this thread and others have revealed, the lag time from rescue to airing can be very challenging for the owner. The shot in the arm from the airing may be too late...

    ReplyDelete
  84. Jesse, again thanks for clarifying the situation. Was Jon aware of your hookah sales numbers? I assume when you write "made" you mean gross sales? so the reality is $ 800.00 in alcohol versus $1200.00-$2000.00 in hookah? Which is more profitable?

    ReplyDelete
  85. Jesse, thanks for your reply and clarification. You're clearly stating here that the "producers" advised you to not clean up and they were aware of a broken restroom situation, but exploited it for "drama" and ratings? Furthermore, you're stating here that Jon and BR were aware of your license status and still moved forward with a concept that voided your license? I don't understand, you were under a non-disclosure between the "rescue" and the airing of the show?

    ReplyDelete
  86. Jesse, THANK YOU for being honest! Desperate people do desperate things... It sounds like the "producers" intentionally dangled a carrot on a stick and enticed you into making some bad decisions?
    Your reply lends more credence to the accusations that the "rescue" and the "drama" are manufactured / manipulated by BR! I am not naïve and realize as soon as you film "reality" it is no longer "reality"! Your honest replies have made me even more dubious of BR and Jon.

    ReplyDelete
  87. I suggest that you read the following book:

    'Reality TV: An Insider's Guide to TV's Hottest Market' by Troy Devolld (published in 2011)

    It provides an excellent description about how the drama is manufactured in "reality TV" shows (hint: it's not real).Somebody from the industry also commented two days ago on the other BRU thread about the show being fake (the lawsuit one) and basically summarized very well what is discussed in that book.

    ReplyDelete
  88. So now you're stating that you didn't have a consistent model for her compensation, and are suggesting you had a "by the seat of your pants" approach that included topping up her sub-minimum wage income to minimum wage through tips -- which again woud be the improper application of a tip credit.

    Jesse, if you are continuing to employ a "manager" under a similar compensation scheme, I suggest that you take the time to learn how to properly compensate employees for their non-tipped services.

    If you believe you can get a good bar manager for $7.75 per hour plus a modest tip share that takes her barely above minimum wage, your future will not include having a good bar manager.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Some of the "reality" is real, some of it is contrived or exaggerated. The sources of the exaggerated drama can vary -- a subject may inject drama in order to get onto a show or to maintain a profile on a show, producers may attempt to stir the pot or even suggest scenes or dialog to make things more interesting, emotional, controversial.... And a lot can happen in the process of editing.

    We've seen some bar rescue episodes where insiders subsequently protested that the drama was faked in order to qualify for the show, or that they were urged to take certain actions by the producers, and others where there is no such protest or even a direct or tacit admission that the behavior depicted on the show reflected the reality of that bar. Mileage will vary.

    ReplyDelete
  90. That's why you should enjoy any such shows, including Bar Rescue, for the entertainment value, if any, and don't take anything you see at face value. As described in this book and other sources, it's very easy to completely change the context of what really happened when the cameras were rolling (and off camera).

    ReplyDelete
  91. UdonNo, Totally agree, however, Jon's numbers proved that they weren't capturing enough people to pay the bills. Jesse has countered that allegation. Irrespective, if you're speaking to the "re-opening" that has been addressed by Jesse as having alienated the old clients and not drawn enough new clients?
    Always promote, but the idea is that you get "exposure" from BR airing

    ReplyDelete
  92. Hannah, I agree with you 1000%. There is much more thought and work to a successful "rescue" than a simple re-branding and spruce up. I respect Jon Taffer's expertise, but it's not that simple! lol

    ReplyDelete
  93. Rigid, You're right! I've mentioned previously that these rescue type shows draw two types of viewers; 1) those with hospitality experience that closely identify with what's done (or not done) and 2) general public that enjoy the show without pre-qualifying what's going on.
    As the last couple of show updates have revealed that there is more manipulation by the "production" than I had previously thought. I like the fact that Howard (Scottsdale comedy), Jesse (Oasis/Taza) and Bill (Mary's) have reached out here to set the record straight or to offer insights into the interworking of the show.

    ReplyDelete
  94. There's another scene about the bathrooms on the Spike TV website(to see it, just google "I Smell A Rat" Digital Extras), there were actually three bathrooms and supposedly all of them were too filthy to be useable.

    Is that true about the other two bathrooms? Were they filthy as well?

    ReplyDelete
  95. Jon should have passed on this Pot Head Bar.

    ReplyDelete
  96. The owner looked like a lazy pot head. Just hung out in his office smoking is butt off. Jon cashed his paycheck from Spike for this episode and cleared it from his brain.

    ReplyDelete
  97. The owner's participation here suggests that he's sincere.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Jesse, Matt has asked me to restrict my comments to each recue within the context of the review. I don't know if you're aware, but part of this review thread sprouted up on the Mary's thread. Some of the poster's have intimated that YOU and you alone are the soul cause of several of the "drama" points on the episode. However, throughout this thread you've stated that it was encouraged by production and you fell into it to secure a rescue? correct?

    ReplyDelete
  99. Aaron, very well written. I simply think that the "drama" aspect has ramped up and the bar science aspect as declined. I think that each recue is unique in some ways and very formula in others. They've made many episodes and its challenging to remain "fresh" with each...

    ReplyDelete
  100. Aaron, I totally agree with Jesse being sincere and honest.

    ReplyDelete
  101. Jerry, Why are you labeling this a "Pot Head Bar"? and why does it not deserve a rescue?

    http://www.mpp.org/outreach/top-50-marijuana-users-list.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/famous-marijuana-users_n_3948855.html

    Was it ever established these people use marijuana?

    ReplyDelete
  102. Nicholas ChristosMay 11, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Thank you for that info, that is very helpful. There are conditions attached to most liquor licenses like seating, capacity, percent food vs. liquor, etc., that most folks are not aware of. Good Luck brother on all your endeavors, my uncles told me one time about business, "if it was easy everyone would do it", and everyone don't, so congrats to you for sticking you neck out and taking a risk.

    ReplyDelete
  103. Nicholas ChristosMay 11, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    God bless you my man, people have no idea how difficult it is being a business owner.

    ReplyDelete
  104. Nicholas ChristosMay 11, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    This is an excellent and important point. When I am creating a budget for a bar/restaurant launch, if its even a 50 seat diner, I put in $30,000 to get the word out. What is the point of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in a business and putting 500K at risk on a lease, and leave no money for the launch to get the fact that you exist out there. Unless you start off with a successful brand, its an uphill battle to get recognized and you have to have constant exposure. My publicist is the best money I have ever spent, because she got me on radio/TV/local papers and tripled my exposure for very little money. $5,000 a month for 6 months minimum, then you can have lines out the door potential.

    ReplyDelete
  105. Nicholas ChristosMay 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    You are correct sir!

    ReplyDelete
  106. Nicholas ChristosMay 11, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    WTF, how can you negate the CASH sales??? Major oversite, very bad!

    ReplyDelete
  107. Nicholas ChristosMay 11, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    Dude, you obviously know the market and what you are trying to manifest, just do the hybrid version an see if it works out. Everyone of your responses has been very sound.

    ReplyDelete
  108. Nicholas ChristosMay 11, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    Exactly, 6 months is a long time to lose money when you just spent all you have already.

    ReplyDelete
  109. It's entertaining how people are still upset about other people smoking weed.

    ReplyDelete
  110. Robert, I totally agree.

    ReplyDelete
  111. I agree. It's just not that simple.

    ReplyDelete
  112. I agree for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  113. I just saw the episode and thought the new bar looks great. I always wondered why there couldn't be a hookah night or a hookah room so that there could be both concepts. I am glad you are doing well and if I am ever in the area I would totally go to your bar.

    ReplyDelete
  114. It's upsetting that anyone anywhere defends smoking weed.

    ReplyDelete
  115. The license thing seems like a huge miss. But it looks like they have kept up on the place by checking out the clubs social networks.

    ReplyDelete
  116. flyers are not a waste of money. You def sound like a know it all

    ReplyDelete
  117. yes they are. unless you live in a town with no internet, then flyers will still be important.

    ReplyDelete
  118. Keep it real fam, u wasnt making any money, thats why you got involved in Bar Rescue, you were losing $3,000 a month doing that hookah under 18 thing right? Then after Bar rescue, you started making money and figured let me slide the hookahs back in cause I got the tatoo and since I was on Bar Rescue, I'll be good. The problem is, after the bar rescue buzz goes away, you're gonna be broke again cause you doin the samething that made you fail! How you gonna say hookahs make more dough than alcohol and clubs. College kids like to party, when you think Omaha, you dont think hookah fam.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Let's keep it real. Before Bar Rescue I was making about $6000 a week. After they removed hookah we were doing about $4000 a week. Let's look why that's so:
    Hookah Bar can be open 7 days a week, bringing in revenue everyday of the week.
    Nightclub can be open 3 days a week to bring in revenue (nobody goes to the club on a Tuesday, especially in Omaha)
    Hookah Bar has an insane margin on tobacco, nearly 5 times that of liquor
    Nightclub has a decent markup off of liquor but offering only one product that everyone else in town sells puts your business in a tight competition with every other liquor establishment in town.


    I understand the show leads the viewer to believe a very carefully put together storyline but it negates tons of facts and circumstances. Nightclubs also bring more drama. The first 3 years in business I had zero fights at the hookah lounge, after Bar Rescue we've had way more than I care to deal with. Insurance premiums go up. Police start to monitor you're business harder. All costs and situations I've had to deal with since they finished filming last November.
    Point blank the show helped greatly with the remodel and added POS systems but the Nightclub concept hurt more.
    Not to mention that my liquor license (a cigar bar license) requires me to serve tobacco to keep it, a stipulation bar rescue knew but omitted on the show to maintain the storyline.
    Sadly enough when the show aired in April we saw about a 8-10% increase in business, which only lasted about 3 weeks, so there was no real "Bar Rescue Buzz."
    Was the bar broke before the show? No, but like any business, the help was wanted. Did we nearly go broke after the show and nightclub concept? Yes.
    Please take reality tv with a grain of salt. 20% reality, 80% tv.

    ReplyDelete