Bar Rescue - The Armadillo Grill / Brenda's Inferno

Bar Rescue Armadillo Grill

On this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits The Armadillo Grill in Phoenix, Arizona.

Armadillo Grill is owned by Brenda Lambrecht, she opened the bar in 1997 using her experience in the restaurant industry.

She started work as a hostess and fell in love with the business and she always wanted to open a restaurant but she is losing $20,000 a month and is in $450,000 of debt.

In order to open the bar she borrowed money from her father but has struggled with the transition from being a staff member to being an owner.

Bar Manager Padrick and other employees including server Virginia say that she lacks management skills and the bar has no leadership.

Even her family don't beleive in her as a bar owner - her daughter reveals that she bought the bar as it would be the front of the phone book, her ex husband Greg thinks she should do something else and her son thinks she interalises the struggles.

Brenda believes that she has lost control of the kitchen with two dangerous grease fires in the last two months and Jorge and Victor don't clean the kitchen.

Jon asks the family to join him to discuss the bar. Greg reveals that she didn't make money in the first 10 years and it was a factor in their divorce and that he predicts her father has put in around $500,000 to keep the bar open.

Asia reveals that when she opened the restaurant she didn't know how to create a concept menu and she has lent her mum money for rent.

Jon reveals that he has sent in two of his finest assistants for a recon - Chef Ryan Scott and mixologist Mia Mastroianni.

They enter the bar and when sat down they talk about the smell of grease as they walked in the bar. Virginia recommends drinks from the menu including a cocktail with a rubber duck for novelty value.

The cocktails are unbalanced and far too sweet. Mia says that the garnish is the best part of the drink and brands it an epic failure.

Jon comments that the glasses they are using are too big and they would have to use more liquor to get the correct mix and this is where they are losing money.

They order onion rings, fried mozarella and sweet potato fries and as they are ordering water begins to drip down onto their table as the roof is leaking in the rain.

Brenda has no control of the situation and the customers are having to tell her what they need.

Victor starts cooking their order and the oil is old. Jon notices how filthy the wall of the kitchen is as it is caked in grease and would be covered in bacteria.

Victor handles the raw chicken with gloves and then touches the fryer, cross contaminating the surfaces.

After seeing the unsanitary kitchen Jon wants to close the kitchen down and enters the bar. He asks the kitchen staff to leave and shows Brenda the state of the kitchen.

Jon tells Brenda that he wants her to clean the kitchen and she asks the kitchen staff to help. The family and the staff works to clean the kitchen.

The next morning Jon and Ryan arrive and immediately notice that the smell has gone and the kitchen is much cleaner with fresh oil.

Jon calls the staff together for a staff meeting and she says she didn't think it was as bad as it was and the kitchen was unsafe.

Diane reveals that when food is sent back Brenda doesn't go back into the kitchen to fix it and is not managing the bar effectively.

Jon reveals that he has had a Partender inventory done and the difference in price of drinks poured and those rung through the bar over three days is $4800. Over a year this would be nearly $250,000.

Jon thinks Padrick is also to blame as the drinks from the recon were terrible. Jon lays down the rules for the kitchen and Jorge says the filth has been there for years.

He is furious as they had a grease fire a week before Jon arrived and the kitchen was still covered in grease for his arrival.

Mia works with the bar staff and asks Padrick to make a number of cocktails. He has some good skills and also some bad habits.

In the kitchen Ryan introduces a checklist of responsibilities and new menu dishes featuring chilis to add heat to the food.

Jon arranges a stress test and Padrick struggles with the pressure by slow pouring and holding the bottles incorrectly. After 15 minutes only 4 drinks have been served and the rest have been binned,

Victor and Jorge are calm and competen tin the kitchen. Ryan is extremely impressed with them and their skills in the kitchen, calling them amazing chefs. They have been held back by the filthy kitchen and poor management.

Jon shows Brenda the waste bucket that has 18-20 drinks mispoured by Padrick and speaks to Greg, who tells him that it is the best drink and food he has ever had at the bar.

The next day Jon gets the family together to talk about the family enabling Brenda and this will be a new beginning.

Mia feeds back from the stress test that they all are one hand pourers and need to learn how to use two and she also wants to tackle the nerves.

She introdcues a new cocktail The Spicy Mango to match the new spicy menu. Padrick impresses Mia with his pour of the new cocktail.

The bar is given a renovation with a new bar and they have created a front of house. Jon is surprising Brenda with a brand new renovated kitchen.

The renovation is revealed to the staff, including the new name Brenda's Inferno and the inferno theme that allows customers to pick their spice level.

There is a new misting machine outside and inside there are new tables, a pool table, a fire machine, four POS terminals, subscriptions, new uniforms for the kitchen and the new kitchen stove.

For relaunch, the patrons are loving the new drinks and food. Ryan leaves the kitchen to it as he knows they can handle it. The heat slider challenge is a big hit with the patrons.

The family are also impressed with the new decor and the service goes well.


What Happened Next at Armadillo Grill / Brenda's Inferno?

Six weeks later, customers love the new food and drink and Brenda has begun to repay her father some of the money that he has invested.

Only three days after the relaunch they were forced to close temporarily due to state restrictions. She admits to struggling with the new restrictions and lesser sales and more staff.

Reviews are overwhelmingly positive for food, drinks and service. However a few patrons complain of poor customer service, technical issues and being cut off from drinking.

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This post was last updated in October 2020.

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