Piratz Tavern: How Bar Rescue Faked Reality

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Before I begin, please watch the following about Piratz Tavern:

Now this episode of Bar Rescue is compelling television. It’s about a sinking pirate bar called Piratz Tavern in Silver Spring, Maryland, where the staff wants to play pirate while the workers at the several corporate high rises next door ignore the noise. Furthermore, the owner is $900,000 in debt and lives in her parents’ basement with her husband, Piratz’s incompetant chef, and her college-age daughter.  In walks nightlife expert Jon Taffer who believes the staff is delusional and drags them kicking and screaming to a new theme, the Corporate Bar and Grill. After the change, the place looks to have a bright future. But the owner, still wanting to play pirate, turns it back to Piratz a few weeks later and the ship continues to sink.

There’s only one problem: The show is made up.

I’ve eaten in Silver Spring lots of times and had even tried to eat at Piratz Taven before the filming. Honestly, it looked like an empty dump. The show wasn’t completely wrong in that respect.  However, after watching the Bar Rescue episode, I absolutely had to go in order to find out how different the show was from with what actually happened. I went for dinner there with some friends and spent a long time talking to the staff.

Piratz Tavern Staff

From left to right: Rouge, Monkey, Blackjack, Archer and One-Eyed Mike.

What I found was that practically everything on the show was made up. While the staff, along with the manager Tracy Rebelo, had a reason to lie in order to make themselves look better, it was obvious from their passionate and candid responses, along with a few plainly visible facts, that they weren’t lying.

Here’s a list, in show chronological order, of many of the differences between the Bar Rescue episode and what I observed and was told:

-At the beginning of the show there’s a statistic that says during the day the population in Silver Spring swells to 295,000 with an average income of $96,000. At night the population drops to 71,000 with an average income of $36,000. While there’s nothing wrong with this on the surface, it’s missing something very important that I’ll explain further down.

-The show claims the staff loves to drink and play pirates rather than serve the customers. Well, that both is and is not true. On the one hand, the staff loves their jobs, loves pirates, and enjoy working there.  On the the other hand,  the food came quickly and I didn’t have to wait to get a seat. In some ways, the jovial, friendly staff is why anyone would come to Piratz in the first place and Taffer ignores it.

- On the show, Tracy claims that’s she’s over $900,000 in debt, her credit is shot and she lives in her parent’s basement.  Tracy told me, a guy she never met, that she never uses credit cards with Piratz and she’s pays off the $10,000 rent every month in full and on time… oh, and there is no basement.

-Jon and his wife show up to the bar which looks dead…except it’s dead because the Bar Rescue producers told the tavern to tell everyone that the tavern was closed. Anyone in the bar were people who walked by and saw it was open.

-The show claims the patio in the back is unoccupied…except they forgot to mention that the segment was filmed at night in February 2012, with nightly temperatures in the 30s. Jon’s wife is even shown walking into the establishment in a heavy coat.

-The fish the planted couple orders is supposedly terrible. Everyone there told me basically the same thing: the food was fine, they just lied and said it was terrible. My food was delicious!

Update: 9/29: Went back to Piratz and ordered the fish the couple on the show did.  While I thought it wasn’t as good as the turkey legs I had last week, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the show made it seem.

-There’s a reference to an appetizer that’s too spicy. The “Burnin’ Bits” has a waiver you to have sign in order to eat it. I know because I took notes on the back of said waiver:

Piratz Tavern Waver

Too spicy on purpose.

-How many corporate high rises are really around Piratz?  There are two on the same block, plus a few within eyeshot. Jon wanted to make the point that there are tons directly next to it, but there are only the aforementioned two plus the Discovery Channel directly accessible via a back alleyway. The others he points out include a two-story storefront and this:

Behold the Silver Spring Metro Garage!

This is a case of Jon not only stretching the truth to make his point about corporate highrises, but also ignoring a bigger problem which should be obvious to anyone who has been to the area:

The way most people get to the area is to get off 495 and head down Georgia Ave. Right before you get to Piratz, they come to what’s known as Downtown Silver Spring, a popular outdoor plaza with literally a dozen restaurants and two movie theaters (The Regal and an AFI Silver) along with several big stores including a DSW and a Whole Foods. This attracts a lot of people with money. However,  the traffic turns on either Colesville or Wayne and heads towards the garages. Only a fraction of the traffic heads past Wayne Avenue. I’ve traveled to the area quite a bit. Downtown Silver Spring could be packed, but walk across across Wayne Avenue and the place is a ghost town.

There’s no way Jon missed this fact when researching - he could see it from Piratz Tavern! While it appears he might have counted Downtown Silver Spring as a high-rise, counting it as such is extremely misleading because he therefore ignores all the people coming in on weekends for entertainment. This destroys his entire theory on why a pirate bar in Silver Spring can’t survive.  If Piratz had a location within Downtown Silver Spring, it would’ve been just fine because the people who go to the plaza are looking to have fun.

- Moving on, Archer, who quit on the show, was told to be the bad guy and his role was to quit. The only thing is that Archer really did  get mad at John so the reaction when he told the cameras to get out of his face was real.

-To help in the kitchen, Jon brings in Jason, a line cook… who had been working at Piratz for 7 months prior to filming. He was working at a Bertucci’s when a few Piratz employees got him in touch with Tracy who hired him.

-The show makes it seems like there’s an all day bar training going on for the bartenders. Well, training only lasted as long the cameras rolled and so the staff only learned basically what is shown on TV.

-On a segment involving service staff training Mike appears to have trouble talking like “a normal person.” It’s implied Mike was so wrapped up in his pirate persona, he had trouble coming out of it.  Except how Mike talks on the show is how he really talks. His accent is not an act.

-There’s an exchange where the service trainer says to Mike to “act like the people outside.” He says that he hates those people. Only one issue: that was edited together from two different exchanges, the second one being the people who go on Yelp and give the bar bad reviews.

-The soft opening was staged, as everyone that was brought in were actors and did not have to pay. Everything was going fine until Jon told the actors to start acting as if the service was terrible.

-The scene where Juciano storms out and Tracy goes after him was staged. He was told to storm off.  The audio seems to cut during the segment because they’re laughing while filming.

-The only thing the employees weren’t told ahead of time was what the new theme was supposed to be, so their reactions were real. Even I thought the idea was terrible from the first time I saw it. The Corporate Bar and Grill made the place seem homogenized and soulless. When corporate workers want to go to a bar, they want to escape, not go back to work. And Jon Taffer, even on the show, came across as a guy who hated the very idea of a pirate bar from the moment he walked in and simply wanted it gone, regardless of the reasons for Piratz’s failures. The staff confirmed my suspicions with Tracy calling him “completely unprofessional” and saying “he made the worst decision possible.”

- While it looked pristine in the show, the new interior was shoddily done. For example, the new tiles on the floor were simply glued onto the floor underneath. The glue oozed through the tiles and was tracked onto the back patio, which had to be resurfaced.

-As part of the renovation, Jon installed self-service draft tables where people could pour their own beer. However, they are illegal in Montgomery County, so they were useless.  Not only that, the draft tables were really being rented, with the first 2 months paid for. After that, the bar had pay for all 3 draft tables.

-The grand opening, like the soft opening, was staged, with actors playing the roles of customers, who ate for free. While I wasn’t told this, based on what they told me about the soft opening, I’m certain the actors were told to act like the place was great even if it was crummy.

-During the grand opening scene, Jason can be seen making burgers. The staff told me that the burger was made using frozen beef patties and were expected to charge $11 for it; this is in contrast to their $12 buffalo burger which was and still is on the menu and is made fresh. They have an $8 regular burger. They never mentioned it, but I assume it’s made fresh. And even if it, too, is a frozen beef patty, it’s still $3 less.

-After filming, Piratz Tavern returned within two weeks, nearly every single one of Jon’s changes was reversed and a small beer bar was added to the front to make it more lively.

I went to Piratz Tavern expecting at least some of the show to ring true and found that apparently not one moment of the show was what it appeared to be. Everything organic was either staged or heavily edited. Watching the episode again after eating there I saw the fiction in the “reality” clearly. Bar Rescue is a fictional show about a man who takes bars from money pits to profitable businesses. Before Jon steps in, the staff has to be inept, the food has to be terrible and the bar has to be completely out of touch with the surrounding community, even if not one of those things was true. After John relaunches, the staff has to be top notch, the food has to be delicious and the bar has to be beautiful and popular. It makes Jon Taffer look like God’s gift to bar management. And if the bar reverts to its previous persona or isn’t doing well, it isn’t Jon’s fault, it’s always the owner who’s to blame. They didn’t listen to Jon Taffer and now they’re paying the price.

Piratz Tavern

Behold the new sign installed the week before I went!

While the staff admitted the bar was having problems, any problems it did have were solved simply by being on Bar Rescue and the huge publicity it generated, giving people a reason to travel past Wayne Avenue. Our waiter, Blackjack, told me that Jon Taffer should have just come in and just helped with an ad campaign instead of the nightmare their “bar rescue” turned out to be. Monkey even said it was one of the worst experiences of his entire life, and I have to believe him.

Piratz stands as a symbol of how fake reality television truly is. Before I ate at Piratz, I loved Bar Rescue. It was a compelling, well-produced show. After eating at Piratz, I don’t think I can watch another episode knowing full well that what I’m seeing is as fictional as a scripted drama.  One thing I do know for sure is that I’m definitely going back to Piratz Tavern.

I’ll leave you with the video by the Piratz staff of the Corporate Bar and Grill sign being shot at and burned:

 

Update: 9/24 11:45am. Correct part about the draft tables.

43 Comments

  1. katpinn says:

    These people clearly have no business sense whatsoever and I hope they fail. While it’s great to have passion in your business, regardless of the mediocre amount of customers they get, it will never be profitable long-term, even WITH the publicity the show has created. Of course some of the show was scripted, but the facts are clear. The bar was struggling, Taffer and crew came in and spent thousands of dollars on a remodel to give the place a second chance and the staff/owners rejected everything and will inevitably fail. I wasn’t a big fan of the drab-looking storefront either, but catering to the business customers in the Silver Springs area is their best shot for success. Hopefully their 17 year old daughter is smart enough to go to Business school on a full scholarship and talk some sense into her ridiculous parents.

    • Noah Murphy says:

      No the fact’s aren’t clear, Jon’s remodel would’ve probably killed the bar dead. Theme was the worse idea imaginable, would you go to corporate bar and grill. The remodeling work was badly done, his people didn’t really do much training, Jason was already working there, and Jon’s gifts weren’t really gifts at all. The show also plainly ignored some facts like the back patio was unused because it was February. During warmer months it gets used.
      There’s also no way Piratz would’ve been open since 2007 if she had a really run up $900,000 in debt with $120,000 in rent a year. I didn’t mention this, but Tracy said it cost her $60,000 to change the place back. Where would she have gotten the money if she was that much in debt, with bad credit?

      • DerekEnzo says:

        Noah, where are your facts? Where? Tracy is ON FILM acknowledging being $900,000 in debt. If that is false, she is to blame. Nobody else. Now if she lied about being $900,000 in debt, do you think she won’t lie about how much the renovations cost? You claim that Mike says”I hate those guys.” and that it was falsely edited to make it seem like he hated the people outside, when in reality he hates HIS OWN customers who gave him bad reviews. How is that not as bad, if not worse? Why are they getting bad reviews on yelp? Why would the service trainer say “act like the people outside”, if the corporate atmosphere he was mention doesn’t even exist as you are trying to claim. Are you are bar expert? Because the people that run Piratz Tavern sure don’t seem like bar experts. So tell me, where do you come up with your expert opinion that “Jon’s remodel would’ve probably killed the bar dead.” How can you say this with confidence. Tell me, Noah. If I can find all the holes in this story, how is it that you couldn’t? Why did you write everything in this piece as fact instead of acknowledging that you were only going by what the people at Piratz Tavern think? We already know how they feel. They made that quite clear by the Youtube video. That video, by the way, garnered 95% dislike. On Yelp, Piratz Tavern gets a 2.5/5 rating. All the numbers point to a failing business. But you want us all to believe that it is all a big lie. That Spike, Yelp, Youtube and all the people of the internet are conspiring to make it seem like a thriving business is, in fact,struggling. That the testimony of a few employees is the only truth in the world. Which is more likely, Noah? That you went in to a bar, asked a bunch of angry employees what they think about their failing business and they fed you a story of lies? Or that every customer that goes in to that restaurant and comes back with a negative review are all somehow working for Spike TV?

  2. lillyfromphilly says:

    While I don’t doubt that some of the show is staged, I am not convinced that your experience is definitive proof that every single aspect of the episode is fake. The show was filmed almost a year ago so it is entirely possible that the people who ate at Piratz last year had a different experience than you did. Just because the fish tastes good now doesn’t mean it tasted good then, they easily could have changed their fish or cooking method since the show was taped. Also, as far as there being “no basement,” Tracey gave an interview to the Patch where she said that they recently moved out of the basement and rented a house…so unless she is lying to them as well, they were indeed living in a basement when the show filmed. I don’t know if she really is 900,000 in debt but a.) It’s believable that a restaurant owner would not tell a complete stranger about her debt, so there’s really no way to verify that she has no credit cards and pays the rent on time and b.) Taffer didn’t just claim out of the blue that Tracey was 900,000 in debt, she herself told him that! If that is not true, then obviously she was lying, so if she lied once already, what is to say that everything she told you wasn’t a lie as well? For the record, I thought the makeover and the new name was really lame and I personally am much more likely to go to a pirate bar than a corporate bar, and I wish the Piratz bar success in the future and am glad that they didn’t sell out, I am just saying that it is hard to believe someone who admits that they lied on the show but then expects us to take at face value everything they are saying now. Any credibility is gone, and I don’t think the fact that they got paid from the show is a valid excuse to lie, a lot of people including myself would refuse to purposely make themselves look bad by lying on TV even if there was money involved.

  3. khutch636 says:

    I want to start by just coming out and saying that it is no way fake. I was on the show and we signed a very strict contract that said we would never be asked to say or do anything, but that it could be edited however they wanted it. Of course editing is involved in reality TV. I was on the Murphy’s Mess episode and they filmed us ALL day for about 7 days and it turned out to be 30-40 minutes. It was known that at the end of it all, they would edit it to make it more interesting – that is what you signed up for.

    Another perspective I have is that I met the pirates from Piratz when they came to my bar during Pirateer weekend in Fells. They gave me similar stories – and we agreed to disagree on our experiences. They saw it themselves – our bar looked amazing. It was not shotty work, it was brilliant and thought-out. They too told me that they did not get much training, however we did. They told you all the people in the soft opening and grand opening were actors – ours were not. Most of ours were Baltimore locals who were genuinely interested. I’ve also met a couple people who were on Season 1 and they had never said anything about it being fake to me either.

    The Yelp reviews on the place don’t lie. I know people who have been there since the show as well and will never return.They may have had a different experience than all the rest of us did on the show, but at the same time you have to realize you are talking to the only people who hated the process, hated Jon, and hated the results. Think about it.

    • Noah Murphy says:

      I don’t believe a word of this because you fail to mention Murphy’s Law is closed. Piratz meanwhile is doing quite well for itself. Explain that, if you were on the show.

      • DerekEnzo says:

        “Piratz meanwhile is doing quite well for itself.” Is that what they told you? Tell me, if they are doing so well, they must be busy, right? If that was the case, how is it that most of the staff had enough time to sit down, talk with you and provide you with alllllll of this information? Would they not have jobs to do? I’m not buying any of this.

        • khutch636 says:

          Well they were closed the day they came to meet me, it was Pirateer weekend in Baltimore, so they closed their place to come to Fells Point and join the festivities.

          However, you can read the reviews and know its not going well, beyond the fact that I’ve already stated I know a handful of people who have been there since and won’t be back. They reported drunk server, poor service, bad food, and that it was pretty empty when they were there.

      • khutch636 says:

        So my insights to the show are nullified because I failed to mention that Murphy’s closed? That doesn’t exactly seem logical to me. Yes, Murphy’s is closed, it closed in April of 2012, and the makeover was done in February/March. The bar is no longer there because the owners, unbeknownst to us, decided that they wanted to get out of the business and sold it. it sucks, but that does not reflect at all on Bar Rescue.

        The first thing Jon Taffer will tell you is that bars are easy to makeover, owners are not. In a week’s time, it’s hard to all of a sudden make shitty owners into great ones.

  4. drmnfool says:

    while i dont discount the possibility of scripting. If the place was really staying a float there wouldnt be a need for the shows intervention in the first place would you agree? and saying that the bar is closed you have to be blind because if the bar was said to be closed they would have had a closed sign on the door which would have deferred all on coming prospects. That in and of itself is a fictional statement. and as far as the food and the cleanliness of the place those can never be staged. If you have a certain standard you go by then you know that others of your caliber wont accept mediocre as acceptable. i have been to that area once and i personally laughed at the thought of going there. And i am the average 36,000 earner and when i want a vacation from reality i just take a week off from work and go to places the locals recommend and that was definitely not one that was recommended. as far as how she got 60,000 to change it all back well there is such a thing as an angel investor and other ways to generate capital like grants and such…. and for all we know she could have convinced her parents to refinance their house to make that possible. the big picture remains the location can generate income and also have a positive revenue, if peoples interests peak at the thought of going……theres a place here as an example called sliderz and its 25 min away from my house theres a 5 dollar cover and they have bands and a pretty clean establishment…. its on the outskirts of town and is always packed because of its perceived popularity. and its mainly women that are there. so the excuse of location has no merit. if she had access to 60,000 why didnt she use that for advertisement to generate capital? these are all things that you have failed to mention.

  5. elixir says:

    Jon Taffer is a total douchebag. If he were really successful in the real world. he wouldn’t need to be doing a copycat reality show on some second rate cable network.

    • khutch636 says:

      Who is he copycatting? He came before most of the ones on these days. After Bar Rescue became so popular, all of the others starting coming out of the woodworks. And tell me this, if he’s such a fake why does he run Nightclub and Bar where he hosts annual shows in every major city and it sells out of people who want to learn from him and his experts? Because he has been in the business 35+ years and is well-respected in the field.

    • Henry says:

      Saying he isn’t successful seems a little dumb. When you have your show on a major network then you can talk about all the shows on a second rate channel. Most business owners have no clue and that’s reality just see how many business go belly up. Go to some of these restaurants and bars out there. Scary stuff.

  6. sand-dollar says:

    As a staff member of a current bar being ‘rescued’ in las vegas, i can confirm the show is fake. Seriously…

    • khutch636 says:

      Oh really? They gave you a script to read from? I was on the show in Season 2 and was never given a script or what to say, none of us were. Of course the experts they bring in and Jon are somewhat scripted at times, but not those of us from the bar.

      • mithereal says:

        you dont have to lie to kick it, just because you work for bar rescue.

        • Katie Hutchinson says:

          I don’t work for Bar Rescue. I was on an Episode of Bar Rescue. My contract with them went from the start of filming to when it aired. I don’t have to lie for them.

  7. sand-dollar says:

    The show is scripted. Get over it peeps. And yelp reviews dont meanshit, ANYBODY and that includes from the show like the liar above saying its a real show can post comments or reviews.

    • khutch636 says:

      I’m the liar you are referring to? What motivation do I have to lie? If you honestly tell me they gave you a script to read from, you’re lying, and I doubt you were ever on the show.

  8. staxthechamp says:

    Of course they are going to tell you that it was all made up and lies. And of course they’re going to bad mouth John.. they are embarrassed and should be of that stupid immature idea. And obviously the owner has serious life problems.I highly doubt she goes around sharing about her crummy basement apartment with her customers. And I can’t believe you’ve actually been to this bar multiple times. And your defending it. That just proves how thick skulled you are. Maybe you should apply here. you would fit right in.

    • Paula says:

      Y r u so wolling to believe the owner. I would think its embarassing to tell a nationwide audience that shes in debt, lives in her parents basement with an idiot of a husband who is rude, loud n vulgar. I know this place will in all likelehood, close soon, if it hasn’t already. As for Jon, there was mucho dollars spent on that remodel in equipment n people who did the work. So if u really believe that money was spent by the network or whoever provides, the fundsin order to make Jon look good, then u sirare a moron.

  9. artizhay says:

    You are discrediting people as naive because they believe something that’s on TV. Yet you never consider that it’s naive to believe everything someone tells you.

    If the owner lied on TV, then that speaks to her character. You’re ignorantly trying to convince us to believe people who were paid to lie.

    If she lied on TV, then how are we supposed to believe someone who obviously has no problem with lying?

    If she didn’t lie on TV, of course it makes sense for her to lie to you and make it seem like it was fake. If you publicly give yourself a bad name and get the opportunity to say it was all fake, then any weak person will take advantage of that to make that negativity go away.

    Either way, you and her are in a catch 22, so I cannot extend any credibility to you.

  10. [...] you look at the reviews for it, you’ll find that a majority of them are positive. And I found another blog post that talks about the claims Taffer made on the episode of “Bar Rescue” where Piratz [...]

  11. Jaybird1103 says:

    Pro wrestling (or in Vince McMahon’s case, sports entertainment) is more realistic than many of these so-called “reality shows”. It can’t be reality if you are told to lie and play a part, it’s therefore scripted and not real. Except for TNA Wrestling, I have lost all respect for Spike TV, Jon Taffer, and a man whom I thought was one of the up and coming young geniuses in TV today, producer JD Roth. To Spike TV, Mr. Taffer, Mr. Roth, and the rest of the Bar Rescue staff, my cow died, so I don’t need either your bull or the crap that goes with it! BTW, I hope these so-called reality shows like Bar Rescue, Honey Boo Boo, Dance Moms, and Buckwild will soon be sleeping with the fishes in Davy Jones’ (the Pirate, not the recently deceased Monkee) locker.

    • khutch636 says:

      I don’t know why you are so convinced these shows are scripted when I for one, have already said I was on Bar Rescue, and we were never scripted. You are hearing that it is scripted by the only disgruntled group of rescuees there are.

      Either way, I don’t care what you believe, but to put down Jon Taffer when he is the #1 bar and restaurant consultant in the country is a little ridiculous. The man and his team know what they are talking about.

      Lastly, pretty uncouth to mention Buckwild and “sleeping with the fishes” in the same sentence considering that one of their cast members was just found dead.

  12. jorjeen says:

    It was obvious from the start that this bar needed help, that the owner knew her Piratz’ ship was sinking! (Yes, pun intended!) If her business was thriving, then why would she even permit Bar Rescue to come in to film & make changes! If it was working, there would be no need for a rescue! It’s not so hard to believe that some of the show was set up! I don’t care who you are, a camera is not going to follow you around and find every-day life so fascinating–whether you’re a pirate or not! Of course, there is some guidance. That is the reason reality television works!
    The PROFESSIONAL chef– “Professional” being the key word–tasted the spicy hot dish, and you could just see by the look on his face that there was nothing edible about that dish! Even the cook–mind you after his comment “Why do I need to taste the food”–ended up spitting it into the trash can!
    It was obvious from the start that the staff was kicking & dragging their feet throughout the whole “Rescue”! It was as if their ship was out at sea for years, and when they finally hit land, they could not accept the world that had changed since their inital cast-off! Long gone are the days of Happy Days, The Cosby Show & even Married with Children! People do not want to watch these shows that occur on stages filled with laugh tracks!
    I do agree that maybe the change from something so fun to something so serious, pirate to corporate, was a bit drastic for these buccaneers! But come on, this business was failing for a reason! In this day & age, it’s “All About the Benjamins” & gone are the days of “It’s a Pirate’s Life For Me”!
    Because of the obvious lack of enthusiasm at becoming a thriving business & lack of appreciation for the guidance to bring this place out of the 1800s, it’s just a matter of time before this buisness & the closed-minded owner will be walking the plank!

  13. xanax15mg says:

    I’m confused why you reject the entire show as staged for 5 days and are so willing to believe the employees based upon “spending a long time” with the staff. There is a psychological principle known as the “confirmation bias”, which you and the Piratz staff appears to fall victim to. It’s much easier to believe what you want to rather than objective evidence. Did you ask Tracey to see their books for the past few months you were there? And if you want to stay with the “faking” theme, why do you not use it the other way around that the bar staged and faked how bad things were going just to get on tv? That hardly would make them more noble than the show.

  14. frankaddison says:

    I lived in a suburb of Dallas called Plano for several years. We had a “corporate” type bar and grille called. I go there all the time. Its a great place to network with other professionals. I don’t understand why the person that wrote this blog is so against that concept.

    • Noah Murphy says:

      I’m not against it at all. The problem is context of the show, its the worst possible thing Jon could’ve done.

  15. mijones says:

    I agree with the the change from a pirate bar to a corporate bar being drastic and unnecessary. I think it was done on purpose to create conflict since the owners and employees of a pirate bar would obviously be uncomfortable with that change. While I’m sure some of the show is scripted, just like any reality show, I doubt it’s to the extent that Piratz claims. The people that show up for these shows in the stress test and cold open are not actors. I’ve been in an area where they redid a restaurant. The show puts out a notice that they will be in town and asks possible customers to make reservations ahead of time for both the stress test and opening.

    While I disagree with the change to a corporate bar it is definitely the right decision for that area. You said there are two high rises on the same block as the restaurant. That’s a ton of possible customers in just those two buildings. Add in the others within eye shot, which should be walking distance, and you have a corporate area with far more people willing to go to a corporate bar than a pirate bar. I don’t know why you would think it’s a bad idea. I got the feeling from the show and interviews that Piratz is a place where people who like pirate stuff work and care more about acting like pirates than running a restaurant.

    Finally, I agree that yelp sucks. As someone that has waited tables for a long time I can say I hate those people too. Yelp has allowed every jackass off the street to think they are a restaurant expert. I had a customer right a bad review once for a sushi bar because there wasn’t a game on ESPN and we didn’t get the NBA or NHL channel. Very few people right reviews unless they’ve had a great experience or a terrible one. Yelp is very unreliable in actually rating a restaurant.

    • aaronl says:

      I thought that most aspects of the makeover were a recipe for success, but I hated the name.

      My initial reaction to it was that it was intentionally provocative but, having watched more episodes, my thought is now that the name and theme were genuine. I’ve not followed the show very closely, but I can recall only two other episodes where an owner didn’t like the new theme, and no others where the staff reaction wasn’t positive. It was too much of a mismatch, with an owner who at the end of the day seemed to want to keep doing the same thing that had been losing her money all over again, but with a different outcome. To a degree, the infamy she earned through the episode and her rejection of the makeover have given her a chance to achieve a different outcome, as upon learning of the reversion I couldn’t help but think, “I have to check this place out next time I’m in Denver.”

      The owner indicated in a follow-up article in HuffPo that, since the show aired, she and her family had moved out of her parents’ basement and into a rental house. Whether or not “basement” in fact means “guest room”, she seems to be consistent with her story that she was living with her parents.

      At the end of the day, it’s “location, location, location”. There are places where a pirate themed bar could thrive. If I were the owner, I would have sold “The Corporate Bar” and reopened Piratez in a tourist center.

      • Noah Murphy says:

        Actually, if you read my article closely, you’d have noticed that I deal with location, namely it being down the street from a entertainment destination where it would have thrived if it was in it. Taffer never deals with it because it would destroy his entire point of why it was failing.

  16. Clog says:

    [...] Nightmares.” There’s a long line of people with more credibility claiming the shows were staged. As unpleasant as Amy and Samy Bouzagl probably are, it hardly seems fair for thousands [...]

  17. zpac97 says:

    This article and the corresponding comments are really interesting to me. While I have not participated in an episode of “Bar Rescue”, I HAVE had a birds-eye view of another popular reality show and how it works and may be able to explain the discrepancy between the Murphy’s folks and the Piratz folks.

    I have worked for years in a little town called LeClaire, Iowa. It’s a small historical town right on the Mississippi River where, interesting enough, a guy named Mike Wolfe lived when he decided to create his OWN reality show. “American Pickers” on History is one of the most popular reality shows in the country, so it is somewhat comparable to Bar Rescue.

    When the show first started, everything on TV was pretty much verbatim. Danielle worked at the shop while Mike and Frank traveled around and found “rusty gold”. They brought the stuff back to the shop and sold it for a profit. Aside from the occasional camera tricks (filming in town when they’re supposed to be in Missouri or Alabama to save money on the camera crew) everything I saw seemed genuine.

    NOW…….Danielle started getting too little privacy and moved to Chicago. Mike got married, had a baby and moved to Nashville. Frank never even LIVED in LeClaire in the first place and in all of my years in town I have seen him a grand total of TWICE since the show started. The shop you see on TV is real, but the days where filming is done are the ONLY days Danielle, Mike and Frank are even there. The staff that work at the LeClaire shop work their tails off, and every single thing they do is credited to Danielle on the show.

    My point is this: I believe what the Murphy’s person is saying to be true. I ALSO believe what the Piratz people are saying. It is VERY possible that, as Bar Rescue became successful, they began to “alter” how they did their rescues. What once was 95% real now might only be 5% – or even less than that!

    I will also say that I stopped watching American Pickers a few years ago. Another casualty of the “reality” of Reality TV, I guess.

  18. Jeff says:

    I watched this episode the other night on Spike, and I’ve taken my kids there. It seemed more like a chuck e cheese then bar. I think it’s clever for kids. But, I think I’m in the minority– trip advisor rated it dead last amongst dining establishments in silver spring. 183 out of 183.

  19. Food Guru says:

    Anyone who thinks ANY of these “reality” show are reality need their heads examined. Jon Taffer is plugging his products. Plain and simple, just a way for him to cash in, along with the network.

  20. mel says:

    Of course some of its scripted ans the drama is amped up who would watch otherwise. Of you look up this bar online and read reviews from actual customers you will see that there is clear issues. I think the owner needs a dose of reality, if a quarter of the show was true she is clearly more concerned with having fUN and plying make believe then being a grown up and being successful. I saw a Huffington post story that said the owner herself said she lived in here parents basement at the time of taping and for a while after, until she rented her own place. If we could all spend our days playing make believe and goofing of while our parents or someone else worries about bills etc. we would probably do it but most of us know that isn’t how the grown up world worked. Why anyone would throw away a chance at success or improvement just because they can’t get everything there was is beyond me.

  21. kim says:

    the only thing that might make me not believe this is the basement thing. in another article that was written about this, she or her staff goes on to say they did live in her parents basement. but it was because she was remodeling her own house. so why 2 different stories to 2 different people? otherwise who knows.

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