The Dirty Rooster is Drowning in Lake Marie


In 2013, best friends Rob and Steve embarked on a mission – owning and operating a successful bar in Antioch, Illinois. Once they found the perfect location – a 1,750 square foot bar that has parking for 100 cars and 20 boats - together Rob and Steve took the plunge on a shoe string budget. Both Rob and Steve invested $40 thousand dollars to start the bar.

Bar Rescue

Lacking the proper funds to help kick start the bars motor and get it up and running, Rob and Steve brought in mutual friends and fellow silent investor Scott Lopes who provided an addition $25 thousand dollars. Once their feet were wet, all three men were ready to set sail and named the bar the Dirty Rooster.

Within the first two months of being open the Dirty Rooster was at full max and the village locals came from far and wide to eat, drink and be merry. With the bars new found notoriety and a wave of booze flowing, Rob celebrated his status by overindulging himself and his friends at the bars bounty.

Soon Rob’s irresponsibility and erratic behavior turned the Dirty Rooster’s reputation from a beloved local watering hole to a washed up dive. It’s definitely a party in the bar and Steve and Scott aren’t doing anything to make a difference. Now, with over $110,000 invested into the bar, Rob, Steve and Scott have agreed to make the call for help to Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue.


The Dirty Rooster sits on Lake Marie – part of a chain of lakes which is the busiest inland waterway in America. The medium household income is $78,000 in the area while the median household income in the state of Illinois is only $44,000. There are 21,000 people that live in the area and 28,000 registered boats. In the winter the area takes on an entirely new feel with 1,100 snowmobiles registered in the area demonstrating a classic seasonal market.

Eleven thousand cars a day drive by the front of the rundown Dirty Rooster and very few of them even notice the bar. Same goes for the lake side of the bar with the only sign hidden by the bushes. The bar features a horseshoe bar with two speed wells and an apartment on the second floor of the building that Rob lives in and doesn’t pay rent for. Everything inside is very flat – the gray floor, gray walls and a gray ceiling make it look like a prison. The name the Dirty Rooster also sounds like a strip club.

The bar is offering $1 beers and $2 shot. When a bar buys a beer they are usually paying anywhere between 70-80 cents for a domestic beer so when they sell it for a dollar they’re only making a dime to 15 cents off it – diminishing profits.

For the recon Taffer sends in a group of girls with only $5 to see how much they can buy with it. There is tons of food and drinks flying across the bar and not one transaction has taken place because the intoxicated manager is giving away the entire bar. Currently, the bar is losing upwards of $4,000 a month.

Over the last two days Taffer and his team have been comparing the amount of alcohol consumed against the amount of alcohol sold. The bar should have made $9,639 in the past two days however they only made $2,721 that’s a $6,918 lost equaling $27,000 lost in a month. For every drink they sold, they let 2.5 drinks walk out the door.

Taffer is so furious with the behavior that he sends his two experts in to tell Rob that he’s not coming in. The next day Scott and Steve make it clear that they want to take full responsibility of the bar as majority shareholders and relieve management – Rob – of his duties.


Even though Rob blew it as a manager and has been relieved of his management position Taffer wants him to stay and work in the kitchen to pay back his dues while staying away from the bottle. However, Taffer isn’t convinced that Scott and Steve can run the bar.

Bar Rescue Training

Taffer assesses the owners and their commitment to the bar by asking them if they were able to get their money back and walk away from the bar free and clear tomorrow would they do it.  The reason Taffer asks the question is because there happens to be a white knight interested in the bar – an investor that comes in when a business it is at worst and saves it.

As the owners think over the possibility of selling out their stock in the bar, Taffer and his experts get to work training the staff. For the kitchen Taffer brings in Chef Nick Liberato whose gifted take on coastal fare can cultivate any culinary klutz into a creative cuisinear.

He begins with teaching Caesar and Rob how to incorporate fresh house made ingredients into the bar. He teaches them how to make their own cheese for nachos and use fresh cod for fish and chips. Chef Liberato also provides them with interchanging seasonal options that will appeal the winter and summer crowds.

For the bar, Taffer brings in mixologist Raul Faria – a world class cocktail competition champion, who can turn any average bartender into a masterful mixologist. Raul works with the bartenders to demonstrate what drinking behind the bar does to your motor skills with anti-coordination goggles. The goggles will show how much money the bar is losing just through splashing and spilling liquor on the bar. The problems become clear when one of the bartenders is tasked to make a daiquiri with and without the anti-coordination goggles.  Raul continues the training with adding fresh muddled ingredients that are double strained to the arsenal of techniques the bartenders can use in order to make smoother drinks.  


Taffer turns the Dirty Rooster into the Lake Marie Lodge and all three owners decided to keep their stake in the bar and not sell out to a management investor.

Bar Rescue

Outside Taffer and his team added bight signs in the front and back of the bar to dive street and water way traffic. They also made the outside of the building look more like a log cabin. Inside, Taffer and his designers added a promotional platform where you can place a beer tub girl or a DJ.  It’s a design feature but functional. They covered the walls in wood paneling to add warmth and comfort to the venue. At the bar they opened up a wall and add eight more seats. Each seat is worth about $5,000 a year adding an additional $40,000 in potential revenue to the bar.

Six weeks after the re-launch food and beverage sales are up 70% and Rob is running the day-to-day operations sober.

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