Tonight’s episode of “Bar Rescue,” creator Jon Taffer went to the once thriving Bungalow Bar in Far Rockaway, N.Y. on this episode titled, “Hurricane Jon Versus Hurricane Sandy.”
In 2008, Dee and Terence Tubridy took over their father’s thirty-year-old restaurant and turned it into Bungalow Bar. To help with the bar, they hired their brothers Sean and Martin and good friend Ryan as bartenders and co-owners.
Unfortunately, the five partners do not always see eye to eye and argue more than they get along. Despite their inner turmoil, the bar was doing well until Hurricane Sandy hit them a devastating blow. Since that time, they have put in over $250,000 to help refurbish the place, it has cost them for rent and utilities about $60,000 and with a loss of $350,000 in revenue during that time, they are sinking fast. As they rush to open before the Memorial Day weekend, Jon came in with his crew to help make it happen.
As Jon and home-improvement expert Sal Ferro drive through Far Rockaway, it is just sad to see the devastation the Hurricane Sandy did to this town. These two Long Island guys know how much this hurts and Jon, approaching the anniversary of the devastation presented a special episode as a reminder that the destruction is far from over. One thing that moved them both, was the American flag on nearly every property.
As they approached the bar, it was just a mess, and after $250,000 into the rebuild, it had no signs of being a viable business. Jon and Sal entered the place and looked over the disarray. The dock, that once harbored many customers by boat, was no longer usable, in fact, much of it was no longer there. The outdoor bar area needed; new landscaping, a new boat dock, new refrigeration, new ice machines, new gas lines, soda guns, 2 well stations, 2 POS machines and a new draft system and a Guinness nitrogen line. In addition, it required, power, a new floor; the bar resurfaced and a new theme. The owners agreed, that Jon could call it anything he wanted and change the theme accordingly.
In addition to the outside bar, the inside bar needed; a whole new back bar, 2 service stations, speed wells, ice bins, a 4-compartment sink, soda guns, gas lines, new water lines, a new draft system, new beer lines, rewiring, and many other aesthetics to make it a bar again.
After the storm, they found their souvenir cups with their logo several miles away. Jon recalled the job he did in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina at the Turtle Bay Bar, owned by Brad Bohannan with partner Steve Smith and relaunched the bar as “Spirits on Bourbon” in the episode titled “Turtle on its Back.” This transformation and their awesome cocktail called “The Resurrection,” have been just the rebirth this bar needed.
They had five days to complete this reconstruction, but to keep peace among the five guys would probably be even a harder task. As Jon saw what the hurricane did to the kitchen, he learned that the water had risen to the necks of the owners. As Jon questioned the men as to what they wanted the interior of the bar to be, he got five different answers and lots of arguing, which is how this team operates. Jon finally got them to agree on the theme and colors. Jon met with the staff, all unemployed for about eight months since the storm. Because of all the work to be done, they had to perform the stress test at a bar in New York City.
He brought in his team of experts, Nick Liberato, the culinary expert in coastal restaurants, and two mixologists; Elayne Duff and Peter O’Connor. Elayne is a master mixologist for Diageo, and is familiar with the New York scene, while Peter is a Diageo whiskey master and both expert trainers.
As the kitchen crew started producing, Dee was satisfied that his food was just fine. Nick said overall, the menu was good, but the plates looked dull and needed a bit of tweaking. As the people were waiting on line to go in, some did state that if the food and drinks were good, they would make the trip to Rockaway. Jon put them all through their paces to find their strengths and weaknesses. Ryan was perhaps the slowest bartender they ever saw as customers waited over half an hour for a drink. They all learned that Manhattan audiences are tougher than what they were used to. They put Ryan at expeditor and Marty behind the bar, and it worked. Jon told them he will train them all day tomorrow to get them in shape for the grand opening.
As the construction project on the deck was ongoing, the weather would not cooperate, as it rained on the deck. With just 22-hours to go before the Memorial Day weekend, everything continued to go wrong. However, the kitchen training went on. The fish taco that was a bust during the stress test, was revamped and no longer a taco.
Jon surprised the guys and had them appear on the radio show “Boomer & Carton” on WFAN radio to promote their bar. As Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton spoke about the bar, they let fans know that the area continues to suffer the effects of Hurricane Sandy and how much their support was needed.
Back at the bar, everyone was pitching in to finish the final touches. When the owners and the staff got to see the finished product, they were amazed. The wreck was transformed into a new bar. The entrance was so inviting; the nautical theme ran throughout the place. The back deck was amazing and provided a great place to watch the shoreline. The landscaping was awesome and on the wall, the waterline was clearly marked at the previous height, this time by paint. The American flag depiction on the wall was a constant reminder of how great this country is and a lasting tribute to the flag that survived the tremendous devastation. When they raised the ramp that was still underwater, it was covered in barnacles. They brought it up and got it back in operation. The kitchen was complete with all new equipment and the bar and tap system was just unbelievable.
As another surprise, Brad Bohannan and Steve Smith, from Spirits on Bourbon came to help celebrate the grand opening. Since Jon came to their bar, they have been doing about $300,000 a month. It was so nice of them to show up, and give encouragement to the owners. They expressed their gratitude to Jon and told the crew how Jon designed the specialty cup for them that had brightly-colored lights. Brad showed them their new cup with their logo in the blue and white design, and he also showed them that there is a switch on the bottom to light the cup whenever the patron is ready for another drink. Steve showed them logo tee shirts, they can start selling to rebuild the coast, one drink at a time. Brad then told them that their bar, on behalf of the people of New Orleans will be donating $5,000 to the rebuilding of the area.
The guys were brought to tears at the awesomeness of the new place; the opening night was phenomenal, and they are all happily back in business. With their money just about gone, they would have never been able to complete the job and will be eternally grateful to Jon and his staff at “Bar Rescue.” One month after the relaunch, the Bungalow Bar reports that sales are up 20% since last year and they project they will be back in the black by the end of the summer. Godspeed!
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