Bar Rescue - The Cave Sports Bar - OPEN

Bar Rescue The Cave Sports Bar

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits The Cave Sports Bar in Anaheim, California.

The Cave Sports Bar is owned by Bolivian Maria Apaza, who moved to America aged 21.

Her husband bought the bar in 1995.

The bar was called La Cabana and catered to first generation immigrants.

He died in 2000 so Maria was forced to step up and run the business with two children.

They were successful at first, making $20,000 a month.

Maria had health issues she is still getting treatment for so she had her son Jaime take over the day-to-day running of the bar.

Jaime remodelled the bar in 2015 and renamed it The Cave but they cut corners and the bar isn’t fully functional.

The bar top corners have sharp edges and staff have to squeeze past to get behind the bar.

With the changes, the regulars stopped patronising the bar.

Jaime hired inexperienced bartenders, he let staff drink, banned customers and the bar is getting out of control with Maria not having a say.

Maria is $200,000 in debt and her house is on the line.

Jon recons the bar with expert bartender and mixologist Mia Mastroianni.

They see the bar has good signage but the windows are blacked out so it looks shady.

Jon notes the area is young and has decent income.

It is also a popular hospitality region with Disneyland and about a hundred hotels nearby

Jon fills Mia in on the situation and that they only have enough money to stay open three more months.

They also discuss Jaime and their goal of finding out if he is indeed ready to take over the bar.

They take a closer look at the interior and note the bar top looks like a home kitchen counter.

They meet Eric, Cynthia, Nimra and Jessica who all bartenders.

The bartenders take shots in front of both Jaime and Maria.

Jon has spies in the bar to test their service and the cocktails they order are bad.

They are offered shots and the bartender joins them in taking a shot.

There is one ice bin, one POS terminal and one soda gun with very limited space.

Behind the bar they are all on top of each other.

Jon gets a bus load of hospitality professionals to flood the bar.

The staff are surprised and Jaime immediately gives out shots with staff and Jaime joining in.

Jaime isn’t supporting staff and allows them do the wrong things while generous with free shots.

Maria wants Jaime to make drinks and help but he shoots her down and is disrespectful.

Jon has had enough and goes in to confront Jaime.

He is too laid back and thinks his best effort is distributing flyers in town.

Generally he is full of excuses for the issues at the bar.

Jon tells him to get ready to be trained and for Maria to hold him responsible.

The next day, they have a staff meeting.

Jaime says his contribution to the place is remodelling and updating the place after getting feedback from local hotels in the area.

Jon confronts them with the lowlights of their bar, drunk staff asleep at the bar and customers who overindulged throwing up in front of the bar.

Jon highlights the lack of staff training, Jaime insists he turned the bar around but Jon also points out he lost over $100,000 in that time as well.

He then brings in Mia and introduces her to the staff.

They are then trained on the basics of bartending, they have to stop drinking at the bar and stop over pouring.

They are trained on making cocktails including a blueberry lemonade and a tropical punch.

For the stress test they are expected to make 70 drinks in an hour, spending just 30 seconds on a drink.

They will also be getting a Partender report at the end of the night.

Customers are let in and Mia is counting how many drinks cross the bar.

She is also quick to notice drinks that are inconsistent and dumps them.

Only 2 drinks have been made in the first 10 minutes and 18 made in 23 minutes.

The bar is too slow and making lots of mistakes.

Jessica is doing great churning out drinks but Jaime is creating chaos and fumbles around the front of the bar.

The bar manages to get to 70 at the last second to the delight of the customers.

The bar is shut down so they can do their analysis.

The previous weekend they lost $4,774 to over pouring and drinking, leading to an estimated $250,000 a year.

Jaime is shocked by the numbers and is finally contrite on his contribution to the failure of the bar.

The staff is brought to an offsite location the next day to train as the bar is being worked on.

Jon sits with Jaime and Maria getting them to a truce.

Jaime is ready to work on preserving his Mom’s retirement and his future.

Mia trains the staff on green based cocktails.

It is relaunch night and the bar front has been modernised.

The branding has been simplified with just a neon blue sign in front of the building and call-to-actions on the windows.

Jaime is emotional along with his mom after seeing this.

The inside has been modernised with blue back lighting and a big brand sign on one wall.

Jon happily highlights that the back bar entrance is now spacious.

The graphic design on one wall gives the illusion of a longer bar, Artworks Commercial Graphics did the cinder block wall and the lamps are from Lamps Plus.

There is a new wood bar top to replace the kitchen marble top.

There are two Harbour Touch POS systems, two workstations, two soda guns, two ice bins and a lifetime subscription to TVT for training.

On relaunch night, there are over 200 people queueing and they are let into the bar.

The bar staff are happily making drinks confidently with new T-shirts.

Jaime is managing the bar as he is supposed to.

Jon is given a round of applause by staff and customers as he leaves.



What Happened Next at The Cave Sports Bar?

Six weeks later, sales are up 30%.

Local hospitality venues have been referring guests to the bar.

Jaime has stepped up managing the bar alone while Maria can stay home.

The Cave Sports Bar is open.

Reviews after the show are mostly positive with praise for the drinks, sports and atmosphere.

In May 2018 they opened a second location of the bar, that they refer to as cave 2 on social media.

In April 2021, they announced on Facebook that a cave 3 would be opening soon.

Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Copper Rocket Pub

Next episode - Barley Pop's Bar & Grill

This post was last updated in July 2021.

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