The Royal Oaks May Go Royally Broke

This year, 6,500 failing bars nationwide will close their doors for good. If things don’t change soon, Royal Oaks in Youngstown, Ohio will become just another statistic. In 2000, brothers John and Louie Kennedy partnered together to purchase The Royal Oaks, a prominent local establishment since 1934. Business thrived as the brothers inherited the local clientele that had been frequenting Royal Oaks for years. Youngstown suffered economic hardships in the 1970s following a collapse in the steel industry. But in 2008, America’s recession further devastated the struggling city leading to massive job losses followed by a sharp population decrease. As Royal Oaks continued to lose money, the daily financial strains created tension between the brothers. The owners’ obnoxious behavior wasn’t the only thing driving customers away: the decorations have been described by many guests as “scary” and “sketchy.” Now, Royal Oaks is losing $5,000 a month and is only 6 months away from closing its doors for good. With nowhere else to turn, the Kennedy brothers have agreed to pull back the doors, bust open the books and make a call for help to Bar Rescue

For recon, Jon Taffer watched the operations (or lack thereof) of The Royal Oaks with Mayor John A. McNally. He also sent in 4 young local women who have never before visited The Oaks, an 81 year-old space with a defective beer tap system behind the bar and a broken smoker in the back. Jon and the mayor watched in disgust as the 2 brothers become increasingly hostile towards one another and vulgar in general. The bar’s decorations were offensive and creepy and the spies finally had enough, leaving before Jon entered The Oaks. When he did confront the 2 brothers, he decided John was too drunk to deal with and said he’d return the following day. The next day, Jon brought in Gerry Graham for the bar. Gerry can make beer-and-shot bartenders into budding mixologists with his skill at adding modern twists to simple classic cocktails. For the kitchen, Jon brought in Kevin Bludso. This award-winning pit master’s expertise at barbecue makes him the perfect choice to help any bar’s menu smoke the competition.

The Sciences

  • It’s illegal to serve food in a commercial environment that produced in a residential kitchen because it can’t be inspected by a health inspector.
  • Mead is considered by many to be the great ancestor of all fermented beverages. It is created by fermenting honey with water. Often times hops, citrus or spices are part of the fermenting process. Because it was claimed by many cultures to aid in health and fertility, a month’s supply of mead was offered to newlyweds to last a full moon cycle, coining the term “honeymoon” in the mid-16th century.
  • For venues serving barbecue, brisket is one meat that presents no waste if used properly. Brisket can be sliced for serving or added to sandwiches. The burnt ends can be served and the trimmings can be used in baked beans.
  • Sociologist Ray Oldenburg is known for writing about informal gathering places and their importance to a functioning civil society. According to Oldenburg, a third place gives people a gathering point for interaction that fosters a sense of belonging. Home is a person’s first place. Work is their second place. Bars are the coveted third place.

The Relaunch

The Royal Oaks retains its name but the sign receives a slight upgrade so it will pop from the street. The interior receives a more extensive upgrade, creating the feel of a warm, friendly neighborhood bar. The creepy decorations are taken down and, 6 months after the relaunch, have not returned. The bar has made $91,084 in food and beverage sales and John and Lou have taken their first paychecks in 2 years.

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

Suggested Articles

New reports have an updated forecast on the total sales lost from COVID-19 and restaurants are pacing ahead of retail and beauty businesses that are c

Leaders come together to share creative strategies and tactics as the industry reopens.

We discussed how bars and restaurants can structure their menus with Allison Varone, VP of Belvedere Vodka for Moet Hennessy USA.