Bar Rescue - Royal Oaks - OPEN

Bar Rescue Royal Oaks

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Royal Oaks in Youngstown, Ohio.

Royal Oaks is a heritage bar that was built in 1934 and was the first bar to receive a liquor license after Prohibition ended.

The bar is owned by John and Louie Kennedy, who bought the bar in 2000 and business was booming due to the loyal customer base.

The owners made $500,000 profit in their first year as owners but the economy fell into recession in 2008.

Work in the area dried up and the population reduced with many local businesses closed and people moving to find work.

They are losing $5000 a month and their relationship has become strained because of the struggles in the bar.

Both brothers are loud and obnoxious, chasing customers away, they have weird decor and duct tape patches everywhere.

Jon arrives at the bar with the local mayor, John and they immediately notice that the building looks unsafe with a lot of clutter outside.

They view the owners on the cameras and Louie is using vulgar language in front of customers.

John has a six year old son and has a lot more on the line if the bar failsthan Louie.

The owners also believe they have just 10 months of business left.

For the recon, Jon sends in some local ladies to the bar.

Emily and Arlyia are introduced as the bartenders who serve the ladies.

The ladies are shocked at the decor of adult toys on the walls and a hanging baby doll with a toy cockroach on its back right in front of the bathroom.

Despite advertising top of the range beer cooling systems, they are served luke warm beer.

The cook Billy serves food brought in from John’s car.

It turns out John makes the food on his smoker at home which is illegal because of health inspection restrictions.

Despite the location it was cooked the customers do like the food.

John and Louie start roasting each other, unleashing hidden resentment.

They do this loudly and make customers uncomfortable.

The recon team leave, having had enough and just before Louie drops his pants and flashes everyone in the bar.

Infuriated, Jon comes in and talks with Louie and he says he has no idea how much money they are losing.

Jon is angry at both brothers who are drunk, laughing at him and aren't taking Jon seriously.

The next day Jon invites Gerry Graham, a whiskey expert and Chef Kevin Bludso to help the staff.

They have a meeting with the staff and Jon says the owners were disgraceful.

John is remorseful about his behaviour.

Louie has no idea what’s going on with the business and John thinks Louie doesn't do enough around the bar.

The staff reveal that the customers wanted to clean and repaint the bar but Louie turned them down.

The staff get emotional about the state of the bar with most having worked there for a long time.

Jon points out how creepy the space is and Louie tries to defend the odd decor.

Louie sounds unenthusiastic and says they can try to get better.

The staff go straight into training with Gerry with the bartenders revealing that they throw away about 50% of beer foam away and they buy up to $300-$400 of ice a month.

Gerry shows them how to make a new mead cocktail, which ties into their name with Royal Oak as a theme.

Kevin puts John and Billy through marinating and cooking barbecue chicken.

The stress test starts and Louie is lost doing nothing until Jon forces him to start taking food orders.

Customers love the food but Jon has to get ice of the premises.

Louie doesn't step up to manage the bar and is late to pick up food.

The bar top is littered with dirty glasses, customers are left without orders and communication with the kitchen is poor.

Louie believes the cocktails are too difficult and people should only order beers or shots so he doesn’t push the new cocktail.

Jon shuts down the bar and declares the stress test a failure.

In a meeting with the staff John is praised for his hard work but Louie was criticized for being too laid back.

John and Louie need to work together.

Kevin reveals they can’t make barbeque in the kitchen because they have no smoker and they are given a new big electric smoker.

Training continues with Gerry teaching the bar staff some new whiskey cocktails and Kevin puts the kitchen through cooking a brisket.

Jon sits down with brothers to get them to communicate.

John agrees to allow Louie access to the financials and Louie agrees to remove the weird decor in the bar.

The renovations are revealed. First is the sign outside which has been fixed and is lit with an addition of ‘established in 1934’ to promote their heritage.

Inside, the bar has been made more modern with wood d├ęcor and in the back they have been gifted a new ice machine.

Jon points out the bright back bar, two 2touch POS systems to help with orders and Multiflow have set up a new draft beer system for less waste from beer.

They also have the best beer cooling system in Youngstown and John’s son and wife come to the bar and love the changes.

Relaunch night is a success as the customers love the new food and the new cocktails.



What Happened Next at Royal Oaks?

Royal Oaks is open.

Both Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews are mostly positive.

The owners discussed bringing back the old decor but decided to stay with Jons changes.

They have however restored their previous menu.

After the show had aired initially they would have a wait for tables but this has tailed off but they are still busy.

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This post was last updated in January 2021.

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