Saturday, March 30, 2024

Arnold's Lounge - Bar Rescue Update

In this week's episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer and crew are in St. Augustine, Florida to rescue Arnold's Lounge.  The bar has been open for many years, and Philip Smith who bought the bar in 2022 is the most recent owner.  The bar is supposedly struggling and when Jon Taffer is doing recon, he finds that the bartenders cannot make the most basic drinks correctly.  The bar is supposedly losing $20,000 a month and months away from closing while Philip is $3.5 million in debt.

During the Bar Rescue makeover, Jon Taffer decided to keep the name of Arnold's Lounge for the bar. Let's take a look at some information, reviews, and updates for Arnold's Lounge since Bar Rescue came and made all of the changes to the bar (All reviews are post-Bar Rescue):

Positive Reviews:
  • "Fantastic place and had a wonderful time. Great Food and Drinks. Friendly service. Waiter named Wolfe was very friendly and attentive. Definitely one of the best places to hangout over the weekend. I would definitely go back."
  • "We are from Ohio and traveled to FL to see relatives during the holidays. Stumbled upon Arnold's for a drink. Expecting Bar food and got the best steak I have ever ate!!! It was only a ribeye but I'm telling you it was tasty!! And the drinks are pretty good too! Wait Staff is way above standard, Service is quick and courteous!"
  • "The service was fantastic! The place was very clean! The band was Last Stand Jax and they had the place rocking. The dance floor was packed!"
  • "I have been coming here since the early 90s, hadn't been in for a few years, we stopped in love the renovation was pleasantly surprised, we had a nice time, bartender was very friendly, we did not get food so I cannot rate that ,drinks were good"
  • "Great place to meet locals, shoot darts, and enjoy live bands play on the weekend's"
  • "Awesome find. Thursday Night steak night was great! Steak was very tasty along with the baked potato, green beans and corn. It was also Karaoke night."

Negative Reviews:

  • "Thought I'd try this place after Bar Rescue had their shot. Well, it looks like the rescue failed miserably. Let's start with being asked to put a credit card on file before ordering anything. Really?? Next, we were informed that only their "fried menu" was available. I wasn't prepared to harden my arteries any more than they were already so my party of four aborted this gamble never to return. What a shame. Great location, lots of history, but substance: ZERO."
  • "I have been coming to this establishment since the early 80's . I have had great times. I must say that since the bar sold recently, they had had some "bumps" in the road! I am very disappointed in the recent changes. a bar, well my take on them were extremely drab!! The Gator & bench... too touristy. Home town people have been carrying this place for years! Your bartender on Tuesday 12/26 completely ignored the bar that is nearest to the men's restroom. A friend & myself sat for over 15 minutes NO acknowledgment, not even a look in our direction as I raised my hand to try & get his attention. However, to no prevail."
  • "Enter NEW OWNER - Cheaped out on everything, cancelled Open Mic, and raised drink prices. This time, which was our last time, there were several creepy drunk young guys fighting each other in front of the front door outside of the establishment, where people go out to smoke. Felt like a totally different crowd goes here now. If you like how I described the changes here and its your idea of fun, then have at it..."
  • "Since the Bar Rescue visit the outside spruced up and inside improvements too . Excited to try the food- ordered Smashburger, and it was not good.. burger patty very small for the price and it came out charred on the outside, making it a not so pleasant choice. The Wings were very average and the chicken tenders were pretty good. Since they are just getting started on the food they have plenty of time to get things turned around.. I love dive bars but we won't return ... if you are there to drink and dance I'm sure the experience is much better"
  • "Arnolds was so much better under the old owners"
*Reviews from Yelp, Google

Other News and Links:
  • The Bar Rescue for Arnold's Lounge happened in December 2023.
  • Here is a preview video of the episode from the Bar Rescue YouTube page
  • Here is the Arnold's Lounge website and Facebook page
  • Here are the reviews for Arnold's Lounge from YelpTripAdvisor, and Google.
    • The owner Philip takes time to respond to reviews on the review sites.
  • In 2022, Philip Smith bought Arnold's Lounge for $2.5 million.  The previous sale for the building was $304,000 back in 1990. The liquor license included is a reason why the sale price is so high. (Link)
  • Here is the Facebook page of Philip (owner)
  • A bartender who worked at Arnold's Lounge for 19 years, but quit working due to the new owners, commented about Bar Rescue being there.  She said the new owners were running it into the ground and she quit well before the Bar Rescue makeover.  People in her comments seemed to agree with her sentiment and missed the old Arnold's. (Link)
  • A Facebook post about Bar Rescue contacting bars in the area to be on the show vs. the bars contacting the show had a lot of comments. The comments on this post also seemed to complain about the new owners and how they treated employees and customers. (Link)


Jon Taffer decided to keep the name of Arnold's Lounge and the reviews for the bar have been mixed since the makeover. It seems that a lot of people are not happy with the new ownership which has caused both employees and patrons to talk negatively about Arnold's Lounge.  Since people are resistant to change, this could be a reason that people do not like the new owners changing things, but for the bar to succeed, they will need to find a common ground. 

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

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