Three local bars will be featured on the hit Spike TV network show, Bar Rescue. Sorties Tavern which is located in Bellevue, Oasis Hookah Bar and TaZa nightclub, located downtown and O Face Bar, which is located in Council Bluffs, are all the focus of episodes.
Bar Rescue which premiered in July of 2011 features Jon Taffer, a food and beverage industry consultant entering nightclubs and bars with a team of professionals and helping them to reorganize, remodel, and fix any other internal issues the business is suffering from. Taffer frequently offers his professional expertise and is known to be quiet confrontational while he attempts to get his point across to an owner or employee.
Sorties Tavern, formerly O’Banions, was contacted by show producers last year when they were looking for local bars that were willing to be featured on the show. Producers visited the bar 4 or 5 times interviewing owners and Jerry and David Dalrymple, as well as employees. They eventually filmed in November of 2013. Their episode aired this March.
“We were ready or a new and fresh look,” Jerry says. That fresh look included their new name, and a new store front. They also focused on creating new cocktail recipes, training for their bar staff and waitresses as well as helping them implement a system for accepting credit cards, which the bar had never used before. Jerry says that they ultimately “reworked the system.”
“They really showed us what we were doing wrong. We did not have a lot of bar running experience and we were in a rut after 8 years. We just needed a boost.” Jerry says that the bar, which is located near Offutt Air Force Base and has a military theme, is now more focused then ever on providing the best service to their customers who they say are “great people,” many of them are military veterans and are nice people who just want to listen to music, drink and relax. “It’s not a nightclub environment,” Jerry says, adding that you wont go broke buying a beer. As for the state of their bar now, it’s going very well. “We’re seeing a lot more repeat customers, which is always a good thing.”
Oasis Hookah bar and TaZa Nightclub, the second bar featured on Bar Rescue, contacted producers and didn’t hear from them for nearly a year. Owner Jesse Hill also spent several months in contact with producers before they filmed in mid November. Much like Sorties Bar Jesse admits that he didn’t have much experience with running a bar, since their establishment was primarily a hookah bar.
“We were a ragtag bunch,” Jesse says when referring to himself, his management team and employees. “We were really just operating on trial and error.” The filming experience and knowledge that Taffer and his team gave them taught Jesse and his employees “management on everybody’s part.” He says that the show was able to “get us on the edge that we needed to be on.”
Jesse equates filming to a “bar boot camp” and admits that there was a lot yelling but that Taffer and his team pointed out many appearance issues with the club that needed to be addressed. The Bar Rescue team installed a new computer and entertainment system, repainted and installed new furniture. The staff, Jesse included, also learned how important presentation and professionalism is. “We realized that if you don’t give respect the customer wont either.”
Jesse points out that being a part of Bar Rescue has greatly benefited the establishment but he does admit that it wasn’t easy. The first week after the Bar Rescue team left the club was “dead.” This was due mostly to the hookahs being removed and minors no longer being allowed into that section of the club. Loosing their “core demographic” hurt them so they eventually reinstated the hookah bar. While doing this they created a more modern, Moroccan theme.
Jesse says that people should come and experience his club because the staff is now more concerned with their performance. “It really starts from the top down, we’re more focused on providing a good experience.” He wants his customers to come away impressed by the staff, management and the environment that has been created. He also emphasis that many first time customers don’t know what to expect when visiting a hookah bar but that his staff is very knowledgeable and willing to give advice.
O Face Bar was unavailable for comment for this article but are located at 2400 9th Ave in Council Bluffs. Their establishment was featured on the March 23rd episode of Bar Rescue. Oasis Hookah bar and TaZa Nightclub is located at 1507 Farnam Street, their episode will air on April 27th.