Introducing a Feature to Your Bar

Nightclub & Bar

Editor's Note: The following is one in a series of blogs provided by the experts who have worked incredibly hard to make Spike TV's "Bar Rescue" realityBar Rescue Insider program, starring Nightclub & Bar Media Group President Jon Taffer, such a success. The Bar Rescue Insider blog series will deliver tried-and-true tips and tricks to help bar owners, operators and managers solve common problems and increase their bottom line. Tune in to every Wednesday for the next edition of Bar Rescue Insider!


One of the best things a bar owner can do to distinguish his or her establishment is to install what I call a “feature”: a design element that sets the bar apart from its competition and makes it stick in the mind of a first-time customer. Taking the time to develop a feature in keeping with your décor makes your bar special; noteworthy bars attract and retain customers.


During one “Bar Rescue” episode — a Spike TV reality show starring Nightclub & Bar Media Group President Jon Taffer — filmed at The Abbey in Chicago, I was inspired by some existing lighting made from old drum kits in one of the dining rooms. I thought it would be cool to have an entire drum kit chandelier in the bar area as well. To fabricate the piece, I needed a welded armature to support all of the drums, so I called my friends at Lincoln Electric; they sent over a welding machine, plasma cutter and welder to help my team and I build it. Now the bar, renamed “the green room @ The Abbey,” has a feature that turns heads and generates wonderful experiences.

Chicago’s Blue Frog 22, also featured on “Bar Rescue,” was a big challenge because they already had a focal point: children’s games and toys. Taffer and I agreed that the focus was way off base for an adult environment; the message was confusing to the patrons. By rebranding the space as a local hang out, Taffer inspired me to find images of Chicago’s blue-collar market. A nice way to run a brand through a space is with custom wallpaper.  I simply sent the image files to Hopkins, Minn.-based Murals Your Way to be printed on a vinyl wallpaper. Walls once adorned with board games now have new sophistication with powerful black and white images of historical blue-collar Chicago. 

The Local

Hopkins, Minn.-based Murals Your Way printed custom wallpaper for a Chicago bar's new feature.

When I have a project that requires some serious brains, I call my friend, Paul Zank of Digital Wood Crafting. During the “Bar Rescue” episode filmed at The Chicken Bone in Framingham, Mass., we introduced a new mascot. The existing one was too cartoon-like. To accentuate the simplified lines and color palette, I wanted a custom-lighting effect.  Zank was able to incorporate our new mascot onto uplit wall sconces. The feature is beautiful in the space and adds a nice glow to the simplified walls.

I make it a point to bring in the best of the best for “Bar Rescue” as well as all of my projects. Don’t forget to check out the “Shop the Show” page on You may be inspired by some of the amazing vendors to improve upon your business and win new customers.

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