Spike TV's latest entry in the Reality TV world is "Bar Rescue" and as clearly stated in the title we will be visiting bars in need of rescue. Jon Taffer, a renowned bar professional with impressive credits and a no-nonsense, no excuses demeanor, is called upon to take struggling bars and make them right with a combination of science, style and common sense.
Episode 102 "Downey's and out" takes us to Philadelphia, PA and a former neighborhood institution that has fallen sharply from its heyday and is in danger of disappearing completely from the landscape. "Downey's" was the hip place to be when up and coming Italtian chef, Domenic Celtofanti purchased it in 2002. But after a personal tragedy, Domenic has allowed "Downey's" to fall deeply into disrepair and the bar has lost it's way from it's original Irish roots.
Taffer has a team of specialized pro's in every facet of the bar business and aims them like snipers at the specific problems he encounters while formulating a plan the BR team will execute in 5 days. The opening shots of what "Downey's" has to offer are unpleasant to look at or if you had been a recent diner when the episode was filmed, looking for a lawyer.
"Bar Rescue" does an excellent job of highlighting Taffer's methods with crisp graphics that emphsize the science to his madness. It provides a strong backbone for the show to build around and set the stage for the reveal to come. Taffer had an Irish whiskey expert from the area, and familiar with "Downey's" in its heyday, recon the bar and provide his first inside look.
"Downey's" fails to impress in spectacular ways after the point man returns to debrief Taffer. Chef Domenic is frustrated, impatient and uninterested when we first meet him. While touring the kitchen with Taffer, the chef is brutally embarrassed and painfully humliated by what is uncovered before the cameras. And he has an excuse for everthing. Chef Domenic is not a sympathetic character upon first view.
Even after Taffer has upgraded the knowledge of the barstaff, re-worked the menu and look of the bar and set a solid path to recovery, Chef Domenic is still clearly a huge impediment to success because of his attitude. So when Taffer sits down with Domenic and the chef breaks down and admits to his despair after the death of his brother and the cascading failures that resulted from the depression that set in, we understand his failings and become instantly invested in Chef Domenic's and "Downey's" redemption.
The moment of Domenic's carthasis is one the viewer may feel free to vicariously enjoy. I thought the moment was genuine when he came clean about what led to his neglect of the bar and it felt good to see him take responsibility. "Bar Rescue" comes correct with an outstanding reveal and hopeful futures for the bar and it's owner.
Taffer's toughguy persona coupled with solid science, marketing and customer service bullet points that are easily digestable make "Bar Rescue" a solid contender in your Reality Show rotation. Don't even front like you don't have one.