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'Bar Rescue' on Spike TV to air mid-summer featuring several California bar wrecks

June 9, 2011 |  7:00 am

Jon-Taffer-2 
From the producers of "The Biggest Loser" comes a show about another kind of loser -- those who bet their livelihood on the success of a bar and come close to losing everything. It's called "Bar Rescue," and it's close to wrapping the 10th episode of its first season, just in time for a targeted mid-summer run date.

The show stars a well-known restaurant and bar consultant named Jon Taffer. What his tough-love demeanor lacks in delicacy it apparently makes up for in results, as he has successfully revamped hundreds of bars and restaurants across the country with a management system called "Taffer Dynamics," which traffics in what he calls the science of human reactions.

"I don't believe we're in the food-and-beverage business; we're in the service business," Taffer said in a phone interview from Yorba Linda, where he was filming the final scenes of an episode about the salvation of that city's Canyon Inn. "Cooks think they're making plates of food; they're not. They're making human reactions."

So vehement is the straight-talking Taffer on this subject that he has trademarked the term "reaction management."

As a result "Bar Rescue" isn't so much an alcohol-laced answer to "Kitchen Nightmares," but more of a "CSI" for the drinking set. In this case the crime scene is a failing bar somewhere in America and Taffer is the quizzical Horatio Caine, arriving on site with a team of experts -- mixologists, chefs, restaurateurs -- to analyze the bar's problems with the acumen of police lab technicians.

The answers aren't all that graceful at times. "We're about the science of bars," Taffer said. "We're about putting backs on bar stools when the female demographic is over 34"--because that demographic is more self-conscious about the way their bottoms look on bar stools, he says.

Other Taffer theories are more pragmatic: "Your eye will go to the brightest spot when you enter the room, and I don't want that to be a piece of decor," he explains. "I want it to be my most expensive liquor."

Usually when Taffer is hired to consult on a bar he spends three months and presents the owners with a 30- or 40-page plan, but on "Bar Rescue" the whole messy, emotional process takes place in five days, just long enough to push stress and tension to the breaking point for a good, old-fashioned cry- or yell-a-thon. This is reality TV, after all.

Sometimes Taffer will change the concept and name of the bar altogether. For example, a beach bar might be transformed into a country western bar. But in other cases, like when Taffer is summoned to the classic 1960s Abbey in Chicago, the name is kept and the establishment's historic place in the community embraced.

In California Taffer tackled Kilkenny's in Redondo Beach, Angel's in Corona, Champs in Burbank and the aforementioned Canyon Inn.

For more on "Bar Rescue, go to www.spike.com.

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Um, check out this burger. It's called Buddha's Delight.

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--Jessica Gelt

Photo: Jon Taffer. Credit: "Bar Rescue"

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