Bar Rescue - Handlebar Cafe - OPEN

Bar Rescue Handlebar Cafe

On this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Handlebar Cafe in Pawcatuck, Connecticut.

Handlebar Cafe is owned by Elizabth "Betsy" Mitchell-Cipriano, who bought the bar when it was listed for sale in 2001.

Betsy has worked in the bar trade at local bars and was a popular bartender.

But it was her lifelong dream to own her own bar and when the opportunity arose she purchased the bar.

Business was booming and to help in the bar she hired her sister Stephanie and her son Dean to work at the bar.

The sisters were popular but they began to neglect the bar. The decor was never updated and the kitchen went unsused.

With no bar food on offer patrons were forced to go elsewhere and trade has declined.

Dean criticises his mother and Aunt and his suggestions for change have gone ignored.

Jon arrives at the bar with Mixologist Russell Davis and chef Brian Duffy. They aren't impressed with the exterior as you can't tell that it is a bar.

The bar is located on an ideal spot on a busy main road and the town has a number of motorcycle clubs and sellers but rarely draws in local trade.

On the screen they see both Betsy and Stephanie drinking and both are drunk at the bar.

As the bar is empty bartender JP is lifting weights behind the bar!

Jon decides to throw them in the deep end with a recon of a local biker club with 60 bikers!

Betsy is rude to the bikers and Stephanie gives a group of bikers the finger when they ask for a food menu.

Betsy tells Stephanie to leave the bar as she is too drunk, the drinks are overpoured with wasteage and JP gives the bikers a bowl of crisps.

Jon is not happy with what he has seen and the group enter the bar to confront the owner.

Brian is surprised to see the grease covering the kitchen despite it not being used.

In the bar Betsy tells Russell she isn't drunk and Jon breathalises Stephanie and she is nearly three times over the legal limit.

After this she stands behind the bar swearing at Jon in front of the patrons and Jon walks out, saying he won't return until she is sorted out by Betsy.

The next day Jon returns and the sisters are sober. He tells them that they must serve food to keep customers in the bar for longer.

Stephanie says she will work the kitchen despite her lack of experience and Brian shows her and Artie how to cook burgers and hotdogs.

Hungover and frustrated she gets agitated and steps out to get fresh air before returning to complete the training.

In the bar Russell trains the staff on new cocktails and trains them new technique to avoid overpouring.

Jon reveals that there will a stress test to find the stress points of the bar.

Russell dumps the incorrectly mixed cocktails into a bucket, that quickly fills up.

Frustrated patrons are left waiting at one end of the bar as there is no service station and the bartenders serve those at the station.

Stephanie and Artie keep up in the kitchen and are praised by Brian and Jon.

At the end of the service it is revealed that there is $200 of wasted alcohol from incorrect pours.

Jon takes the sisters to see a therapist to discuss issues and they talk about the past and how to move forward with the business.

Jon has the kitchen deep cleaned and replaces some of the faulty cooking appliances.

With the new kitchen Brian is able to show them some more menu items including fries so they are able to offer takeout to passing bikers.

As they plan to appeal to the local biker community the new drinks and cocktails will be whisky and tequilla based.

Dean is taught how to serve drinks and they will continue to train him on the business side of the bar so he can one day take over the bar.

Jon reveals the renovations to the bar, starting with the new name Handlebar and Grill.

There is a giant pair of handlebars from a bike on the front, new signage and lights to draw attention to the bar.

In the bar the flooring has been replaced and the bar has been decorated with biking memorabilia.

They have added a service station at the other end of the bar and will have premixed cocktails on tap to speed up service times.

On relaunch night, the staff in both the bar and kitchen cope well with the influx of bikers and they love the new food, drinks and service.

What Happened Next at Handlebar Cafe?

Six weeks later, the sisters are drinking during service, the old decor has been returned including the old carpet and they are no longer servifng the new drinks.

They returned to the previous name of the bar Handlebr Cafe and later revealed that sales increased 30%.

The town of Stonington issued cease and desist orders for the mural on the side of the bar and the pair of handlebars above the front entrance so these were removed.

Handlebar Cafe is open and reviews are mostly positive. The bar is described as fun with praise for the bartenders. It appears they no longer serve food as no reviews mention food.

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This post was last updated in November 2020.

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