Last Updated on July 6, 2023 by Lydia Martin
Curiosity lingers around the authenticity of the hit TV show “Bar Rescue” on Paramount Network. Are you, like me, wondering if it’s a genuine depiction of failing bars being saved, or is it all smoke and mirrors? Is Bar Rescue real?
Skeptics question the reality as former bar owners speak out, claiming fabricated appearances and intentional manipulations by the production team.
To clarify things, I took the time to investigate this matter, so let me share with you what I’ve found. Read on.
Is Bar Rescue Real or Scripted?
Bar Rescue can be real, but it sparked debates among viewers. While the show presents itself as a genuine rescue operation for struggling bars, there are indications of scripted elements, like:
- Former bar owners have come forward
- Alleging fabricated appearances
- Fed lines
- Intentional manipulations
- Scripted scenarios
So, too many bars and viewers doubt the authenticity of the show.
But some viewers do have a point claiming many people fail to realize that reality shows are unscripted television and that when the cameras roll, there’s a production element. This isn’t like any home videos or iPhone videos.
“Unveiling the facade: Bar Rescue’s reality, mixed with entertainment prowess.” – Liquor Laboratory
However, the extent to which Bar Rescue is largely fake versus real life remains a topic of speculation and interpretation.
10 Proofs That Claim Bar Rescue Is Staged
As per the former owner of Piratz Tavern in Bar Rescue: Season 2, former employees are brought in, and filming takes place on days when bars are normally closed.
Everything is planned, including storylines and hiring non-current employees, to make competing bars seem like a bigger failure.
The owner, Tracy, revealed on Facebook that Piratx Tavern closed because they lost their lease and basically coerced her family into specific roles in “Bar Rescue: Back to the Bar.”
Tracy claims that made-up storylines were created to make most bars appear more unsuccessful and dramatic.
You’d probably agree that the reality TV show, Bar Rescue, has witnessed many dramatic incidents.
James Iadanza, the former manager of Cashmere, temporarily returned to the bar solely for filming purposes.
This guy claims to have been instructed to exhibit a horrible job but recalls that everyone else was behaving perfectly during the filming.
Due to his charismatic persona, he became the scapegoat for all the bar’s issues, despite not having worked there for months.
The show heavily relies on story illusions and visual cues to portray apparent reasons for a bar’s failure.
In the third season episode, “Don’t Mess with Taffer’s Wife,” Dr. Paul Wilkes, the owner of the Sand Dollar, engages in inappropriate behavior by making derogatory remarks about women and flirting with Jon’s wife (what a crazy one).
Therefore, the bar expert retaliates by physically confronting Dr. Wilkes. According to Wilkes’ lawsuit, he alleges that producers instructed him to behave inappropriately.
Drama & Context
Jon Taffer leaves bars abruptly, but I find his reason illogical.
In the season 3 episode, disturbing employee behavior unfolds in the Iowa bar, and videos show the owner, Dave Peters, slapping an employee.
On Facebook, Peters addresses the video, stating that the producers told them to create a little drama or story to grab Jon’s attention.
He insists that the video was part of an audition tape and not what a genuine occurrence is, but the show edited it out of context.
Note that bar owners and employees have no control over the editing process.
Almost like Kitchen Nightmares, Jon Taffer finds gross things, but ex-bar owners say their places were deliberately left dirty.
Some Schafer’s Bar and Grill customers during season 5 posted on Facebook, saying that the bar’s condition and failure were exaggerated for the reality show.
While some kitchens do look dirty, the show seems to make them worse than not what it actually is for the sake of good TV.
In the limited timeframe of Bar Rescue (less than an hour), there are limitations to what can be accomplished, right?
But the crew fed abundant equipment, such as draft beer taps, ice machines, and POS systems.
However, the show suggests that once that host Jon Taffer  departs, everything is taken care of for the bar to succeed.
The reality show doesn’t assist all the bars in taking the necessary steps to utilize their renovated spaces and equipment effectively. The responsibility of managing bars now solely falls on the bar owners.
Jon Taffer’s Bartending Knowledge
Despite being considered a bar and nightlife industry expert, Jon Taffer has faced criticism from bartenders for inaccurately discussing the origins of tequila and mezcal – referring to them as hallucinogens.
While he brings skilled mixologists on the reality TV show, he frequently advises bartenders and shares his opinions on different cocktails.
His limited understanding of bartending and the scientific aspects of drinks diminishes his credibility as a “bar science” professional, as the show’s introduction suggests.
It’s possible that his portrayal in the Bar Rescue series is exaggerated to emphasize the contrast between his knowledge and that of the bar owners.
This reality television show asserts that the filming covered a span of five days, but Tracy, the owner of Piratz Tavern, disputes this claim.
In a Facebook post after the bar closed, she mentioned being instructed to bring multiple outfits to film their re-rescue, suggesting that the reality show aimed to create the illusion of multiple days of shooting.
While Bar Rescue often features intense arguments, owners like Tracy disagree with the changes made, the strategic planning of storylines by the production company, and the altered narratives.
The filming schedule raises doubts, as more significant and lasting transformations would likely require more implementation time.
So, is Bar Rescue real, given this scenario? What do you think?
Securing a spot on a reality show where someone invests their money to rescue your failing business may seem like an excellent opportunity, right?
The show process of client selection is relatively straightforward, akin to filling out a standard application, similar to applying for a sought-after position as a busboy at a local bar.
However, Bar Rescue employs an alternative approach. The show producers and crew sometimes focus on specific cities or regions, conducting open calls to identify failing bars.
Alternatively, they take the initiative to contact bars directly, inquiring if they want to participate in the reality television show.
The individuals sent undercover by Jon Taffer at the opening act of each episode to assess the bars are not the first bar to examine the food and drinks.
According to food writer Debbi Snook, the producers pre-ordered the menu at Martini Brothers Burger Bar before her undercover visit, specifically selecting the weakest items.
Snook was instructed to order those particular menu items, resulting in genuine reactions from her. However, had she chosen the bar’s better dishes, her experience might have been different.
This is another instance of the show being orchestrated and lacking authenticity. The undercover patrons deliberately order the worst food and drinks to highlight only negative aspects, disregarding any positive elements intentionally.
What Is Bar Rescue & How Does It Work?
Bar Rescue is a reality TV series aired on Paramount Network, in which Jon Taffer, the host, travels across the US – scouting competing bars and turning them into appealing destinations.
Taffer evaluates each bar and collaborates with the owners to renovate their businesses.
Additionally, they analyze menu options, pricing, and profit margins, aiming to transform each bar from financial loss to substantial profitability while maintaining entertainment value.
Is Jon Taffer A Real Person?
Yes, Jon Taffer is an actual individual. He’s an entrepreneur and a professional bartender, which is the foundation for his role as the host of Bar Rescue.
Taffer managed the renowned West Hollywood establishment, The Troubadour , during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1989, he proceeded to open his first bar.
“I’ve always owned bars, but I’ve never had my name on the sign before. That’s a big difference.” Jon Taffer, American Entrepreneur/Host
In fact, Jon Taffer is the counterpart of Gordon Ramsay in the nightclub and bar industry. Some even call him an American Hero who saves bar owners.
Are The Bars From Bar Rescue Still Open?
Bar Rescue assisted a total of 229 bars across eight seasons. Of these, only 110 bars have remained open, indicating that 119 bars have unfortunately closed.
This translates to a success rate of approximately 48%.
Who Pays For Remodeling On Bar Rescue?
The remodeling expenses of Bar Rescue are typically covered by the production company. This includes costs related to updating the bar’s physical appearance, new equipment, and necessary improvements.
But there are specific financial arrangements or fair share, and agreements may vary from case to case. Any additional costs incurred by the bar owner are discussed and negotiated separately.
Do People Pay To Be On Bar Rescue?
The bar owners featured on Bar Rescue  do not pay to be on the show. The costs associated with the renovations and improvements are typically covered by the production company.
While the bar owners may need to meet certain criteria and comply with the show’s format, they do not have to pay a fee to participate.
Are The Cameras Hidden In The Show?
Yes, cameras are hidden in the show. In one interview with Jon Taffer, he mentioned they install cameras in 2-3 areas within the location.
Then, they film for a week before conducting the big reveal. After day one, he claims the staff totally forgot about the hidden cameras, and the show continues.
Does The Show Actually Save Bars?
Bar Rescue can save bars. However, despite the aim to rescue bars, the outcome reveals that roughly half of the bars still fail despite Jon Taffer’s expertise and guidance.
These establishments often face significant challenges that Taffer’s knowledge alone cannot recover their lost earnings sufficiently.
Does Jon Taffer get a percentage of the bars he rescues?
Jon Taffer receives no percentage from the bars he rescues on the reality series. Instead, he operates as an independent consultant and charges a fee for his services, agreed upon with the bar owner.
Why do they wear the same clothes on Bar Rescue?
The participants in Bar Rescue wear the same clothes throughout an episode to maintain continuity during editing. It allows for smooth transitions between different stages of the rescue process, ensuring that the final episode appears seamless to viewers.
What is the most successful bar from Bar Rescue?
The most successful bar from Bar Rescue is subjective and can be difficult to ascertain definitively. But we can say that the most successful is Taffer’s Tavern, a product of Jon Taffer.
How much does it cost to be on Bar Rescue?
The cost to be featured on Bar Rescue varies and isn’t publicly disclosed. The production company covers the expenses related to the stress tests, renovations, and improvements.
Why was Bar Rescue canceled?
Bar Rescue has not received an official cancellation. During the pandemic, Jon Taffer concentrated on bars in his local Las Vegas area .
The status of a ninth season remains pending as Paramount Network has not announced an official renewal or cancellation.
So, is Bar Rescue real or scripted? In my view, it can be real and staged.
While the show features real bars and owners, there are staging, scripting, and editing elements to enhance the dramatic story-telling aspect, like any other reality show.
The aim of the show is pure – to help struggling bars recover. But of course, for the sake of entertainment and viewers’ attention, certain parts are staged.