Back to the Bar: No Laughing Matter

Remember the old joke, “A horse walked into a bar?” Well, on Bar Rescue that actually happened and it became one of their most famous moments ever. On Sunday night’s Bar Rescue “Back to the Bar: No Laughing Matter” special, the show went back to Kid Chilleen’s to see what became of boozy owners Scott and Donna. Also, funny man Howard Hughes was in the studio. They also visited with the owners of Jack’s Ale House. Jon Taffer set out to see if the owners of each bar had changed their ways or if he’d have to rescue them again.

“Back to the Bar” is about going back to some of Bar Rescue’s favorite places to check in with their most memorable characters. The Bar Rescue show has an 80% success rate which is, in their eyes, amazing. They’re proud of their results which is why they’re not afraid of the 20 percent. In fact, Jon said that he will go toe-to-toe on every single decision he’s made on every single rescue.

To kick things off, Jon was joined on stage by brothers Jimmy and Brian McGowan, owners of Jack’s Ale House. As you may remember, the Ale House was rebranded as Jack’s Fire Department. The brothers said they’ve tripled their business but still owe around $400,000. To check on the bar, Jon sent in the Tubridy brothers, owners of Bar Rescue success story Bungalow Bar.

The good news is that all of the cocktails were available, the kitchen has kept the systems that Jon put in place and the place was busy and looked great. The bad news is that John McGowan was removed from Jack’s Fire Department and has opened his own bar. Also, Jimmy still has anger issues. In fact, he got into a physical altercation with Brian during the Tubridy brothers’ visit. Jon asked Jimmy to promise him that he would reach out to John. Because of the anger issues and bad blood between brothers John and Jimmy, Jon declared that the jury is still out on Jack’s Fire Department.

Next up was Chilleen’s on 17, formerly Kid Chilleen’s Bad Ass BBQ. This bar gave Bar Rescue one of their most iconic moments: the horse that was famously ridden inside the venue, only to become startled and fall. Owner Donna Chilleen was happy to report that the bar has been packed and sales are almost doubled; the bar is on track to do $1,000,000 this year. Sadly, Scott Chilleen is no longer involved with the bar due to his addiction to alcohol.

The spies sent into Chilleen’s were pleased to report that it only took 4 minutes and 29 seconds to receive the barbecue they ordered, and that the food was juicy and perfect. However, Jon also sent in spies to see if Donna had gotten a handle on her problem with alcohol. Two more spies entered the bar, ordered 4 shots, and attempted to give them to Donna and her daughter Aleah. Donna shared with the spies that she had not consumed alcohol in her bar for over 2 years and turned down their offer. Jon made it clear that the spies were instructed to not go through with giving Donna any shots if she had accepted. The bar is doing very well, Aleah is engaged and has a baby, and Jon declared Chilleen’s on 17 a complete success.

As Jon pointed out at the beginning of the special, 20% of the bars featured on Bar Rescue don’t succeed. Whether they close their doors, have to be sold off, or simply sink deeper and deeper into debt, they fail. Often times, the owners of the failed or failing bars blame Jon and their appearance on Bar Rescue. Cue Howard Hughes, the owner of Stand-Up Scottsdale.

As part of his rescue, Jon fixed the infamous “Meat Sauna” that was Stand-Up Scottsdale and helped it to become the first fully branded Laugh Factory franchise in Scottsdale, Arizona. Claiming that the branding hurt business because people saw the name and expected superstar comedians like Dane Cook to be performing there, Howard went back to the Stand-Up Scottsdale branding after just 2 years. Additionally, Howard blamed the business model that Jon put in place, including the food program, and called him a fraud repeatedly. Perhaps we all would have gotten to hear more from Howard but, after smacking a card out of Jon’s hand and getting in his face, he was escorted off stage and off camera by security. Not surprisingly, Jon declared Stand-Up Scottsdale a complete failure.

“Back to the Bar” wasn’t only focused on whether or not the featured bars have or have not experienced success; there was some bar science discussed. Because Chilleen’s and Stand-Up Scottsdale both have barbecue food menus, Jon discussed a tell-tale indicator of authentic smoked barbecue: the smoke ring, the red band that proves it was truly smoked and not simply manipulated with liquid smoke. Smoke flavoring is a controversial substance. While it can be made in several different ways, the most common is to burn byproducts like sawdust and cool the smoke until it condenses into a liquid. The process is called destructive distillation. The results are a liquid with a smoky taste but some studies have shown it also contains carcinogenic hydrocarbons at levels that can cause genetic damage.

To find out more about Bar Rescue episodes make sure to check out Spike TV.

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