Clockwise from top left: NBC Universal; 20th Century Fox; HBO; Spike TV

Bar Rescue’s Jon Taffer Takes On Some Of TV’s Favorite Bars

Running a (fictional) bar is not just a business -- it’s a science. Jessica Liese imagines what he might have to say about watering holes on scripted TV shows.

The Bar: MacLaren's Pub, New York, NY

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

The Space: A cozy, but downmarket, Irish pub on the Upper West Side of Manhattan serving a full menu of pub fare

Right off the bat, the layout of this place makes absolutely no sense. There's one giant booth in the middle of the room, disrupting the flow of customer traffic. And what's more, most of your customers aren't even allowed to sit in it! It's always taken up by the same five people. Repeat business can be the lifeblood of any bar, but if your crowd feels too stagnant, you'll discourage new customers from coming back. Not to mention the fact that the one in the suit keeps hitting on every girl who walks into the place, making the space feel very unsafe for your female clientele. So first things first: rip this booth out of here, and keep a leash on your creepy regulars.

This zip code boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in New York City -- who the hell's coming up here for five-dollar Rolling Rocks? Besides, half-assed Irish dives are a dime a dozen in this city, so you need something to set you apart. I've envisioned a new concept for you: you're now a gastropub with upscale comfort food and an extensive craft beer menu to better attract the area's upper-middle-class residents.

The Bar: Merlotte's Bar and Grill, Bon Temps, Louisiana

HBO

HBO

The Space: A free-standing building with extensive seating and a Cajun-influenced menu of bar favorites

The first thing I notice about this place is the hostile staff. When they're not too busy brawling with each other to actually serve their customers, they're rude, dismissive, and barely paying attention to what's going on around them! There have been at least a dozen murders right outside this place, and nobody who works here seems to give a shit! It doesn't matter if you're the only game in town: if people keep getting killed in the parking lot, it's no wonder you're losing customers! What the hell is wrong with you?

That's not to say you shouldn't be looking to serve vampires and other so-called dangerous subcultures in the area. This is the only bar in town, so you should be a welcoming place for everyone! The local vampire population has a lot of disposable income, and if you make this an attractive destination, they'll spend it here. But to keep them coming back, and to keep them from killing your human customers, you've got to keep them happy. You can't just plunk down a bottle of TruBlood. We need to create some additional perceived value. Pour the blood into a special room-temperature martini glass, let it aerate for a moment, dash of bitters, add a garnish, and you have an artisanal cocktail. Make it a late-night drink special for your after-dark crowd.

Also, if you add a brunch menu, you'll effectively double the number of hours during which you can be making money. What's more, you're providing a service that's attractive to your human customers, but since they're visiting during daylight hours, they won't risk becoming someone's meal.

The Bar: Tom's Bistro, Pawnee, Indiana

NBC Universal

NBC Universal

The Space: An upscale Italian restaurant with an extensive wine cellar and additional seating at the bar

What we have here is a typical mismatch of menu to demographics. Pawnee has the fourth-highest rate of obesity in the nation. People in this town don't want traditional rustic Italian fare; they want six pounds of fried meat wrapped in bacon and drenched in nacho cheese. My chef consultant has taken the liberty of adding additional butter and heavy cream to every item on the menu in order to appeal to Pawnee's more gluttonous clientele. The Paunch Burger crowd is always looking for someplace to go when they're celebrating special occasions, and you're well-positioned to be that destination for them.

Now let's talk about your staff. Tom, you started off as a very hands-on owner with a good head for business, but your tendency to prioritize being a mogul and living what you refer to as "the swag life" over actually dealing with the day-to-day minutiae of running your business is the main reason your bar is failing. You also need to stop feeding your friends for free: this Jean-Ralphio guy never leaves, and he's scaring people off. Also, I know you told your sommelier to tone it down, but he won't stop yelling at customers, and while his passion is admirable, he's absolutely not cut out to work front of house.

The Bar: Paddy's Pub, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

FX

FX

The Space: A nominally Irish bar in South Philly with a cavernous interior, a pool table, and a basement full of rats

There is nothing rescue-able about this bar. SHUT IT DOWN!
Jon Taffer did not actually make any recommendations about fixing fictional bars; we made this up.

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