The Union / The Midway Tavern - Bar Rescue Update - Open or Closed?

The Union Bar Rescue

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits The Union in Midvale, Utah.

The Union is owned by construction worker Bill Rowe, who bought the bar in 2017.

He purchased the bar with the help of his in-laws.

Bill hired his friends and daughter, Noelle, as staff and he stayed as a hands off owner.

His inexperience shows with the bar being marketed as a sports bar but it only has two TVs that aren’t working.

They are losing $6000 a month and are $500,000 in debt.

Outside, there is a broken limousine sitting in front of the bar that is owned by Bill.

Jon recons the bar with Chef Ryan Scott and mixologist Rob Floyd.

They notice that the bar is in a high-income area so there is a lot of potential to earn a lot of money.

They also notice the limo parked in front of the bar and the wasted opportunity of not branding it to promote the bar.

They meet Bill and he gives them the low down on his finances.

He reveals that he borrowed $300,000 from his in-laws to open the bar.

He has only been able to pay them back $10,000 in the 2 years they have been open.

T-bear is the front of house manager, Meghan and Emjay are bartenders.

Amaya and Cristella are both cooks and Bill’s daughter Noelle is a part time manager.

The team see chicken wings about to be served that are burnt on one side.

They observe a customer struggling to eat the overcooked wings.

They watch a cocktail made incorrectly in the wrong glass which leads to incorrect dilution of the alcohol.

They are breaking Utah law as it is required that there is not more than 1.5oz of alcohol in a glass.

Jon has planned for 50 people to storm the bar to see how the bar’s service really is and how the owner reacts.

The experts with earpieces on take the people into the bar.

The bartenders get angry and are rude when one of the experts keeps asking for drinks.

The bartenders are slammed but Bill is going round giving customers hugs instead of helping to serve drinks.

The experts get to hug Bill and rope him in for a few questions about the bar.

Bill says he can’t make drinks, but he has experts make the drinks.

One of the experts spits out his drink and Jon decides to make an appearance.

Jon makes Bill face the truth that he is wasting his in-law’s money having not learned to make drinks at his own bar.

Jon challenges him to run the bar the next day for the stress test and he would be making a Mule for Rob to test his skills.

After Jon and his team leave, Bill meets his staff to put him through some basics of bartending.

Jon and his team arrive the next morning and the first thing they ask for is Bill to make the cocktail.

Rob tastes it and he tells him that it is a good first attempt at making the drink.

Jon meets with him and the staff and Bill reveals he has extra debt.

This is due to him taking out another mortgage and using two credit cards, one belonging to his wife, to keep the business going.

Bill says they have only have enough money to stay in business for just 3 more months.

Ryan gives initial feedback that the cooks are motivated but they need guidance which Bill is not giving them.

Rob also gives feedback of how they were made to feel unwelcome the night before.

He says there was no system, which led to customers waiting too long for their drinks.

Staff say their busiest nights are Thursday and Friday nights, when they have Bingo and Karaoke.

The Bingo service gets paid but the bar doesn’t make money.

Jon wants a turnaround in Bill and for him to pay back his in-laws.

Ryan trains the kitchen staff on making sweet and sour chicken wings.

Rob trains the bar staff on a whiskey mule and engages them in a challenge that has them communicate to make the drink.

On the night of the stress test, they are motivated and Bill’s wife Nancy is there to watch.

Bill takes orders at first but the ends of the bar have no one attending to them.

No one is running orders from the kitchen so the food sits there.

It takes 7 minutes to get the first drink out and mistakes made slow down the process.

The kitchen is also making wings from raw so need 10-12 minutes, delaying orders.

The chicken wings get burned as they are careless and they have to start over.

Jon shows Bill the state of the kitchen and shuts down the bar because they can’t meet up with the orders.

Jon meets with staff and calls out the bartenders for not getting their pour counts right.

Rob takes the staff through using the new Berg system so they can make 2 drinks at once.

Ryan takes the kitchen staff through making a Bison Burger that will be served as a shareable meal at the table.

Jon meets with Bill and his wife and finds out what motivates him to succeed.

He says it’s his wife and kids and the possibility of paying his in-laws back.

Nancy and Noelle say they are proud of him.

On relaunch night it is revealed that the bar has been renamed The Midway.

The bar will be rebranded with the tagline of ‘drinks, food and fun’.

The interior has been changed into a more colourful game house/bar.

Merlin Wireless have put in a new Berg Wireless system that is operated by a watch.

There is new furniture provided by East Coast Chair and Barstool.

There is a new centre piece to break up the room and a caarousel horse on one wall for the amusement park theme.

Standard Restaurant Supply have provided a new workstation and the DJ system will be computerised by Orange Door Entertainment Systems.

There are new Harbour Touch POS systems, Skytabs and digital table tents.

They have a lifetime subscription to TVT and some simple new uniforms for the staff.

The doors are opened to the public and everyone is busy serving customers.

The kitchen has systems in place and they are meeting up with completing orders.

Bill is running food out of kitchen and using the POS system to process orders.

The bar is working non stop to serve the customers.

The customers are happy with both the food and drinks that they receive.

What Happened Next at The Union

Six weeks later it is reported business is up 20%.

They are attracting younger customers and Bill is managing the bar.

At the request of regular customers they returned some of their former dishes to the menu.

They did this after customers complained about the limited Bar Rescue menu.

The Midway Tavern is open.

Reviews are mixed as many of regulars don't like the changes.

There are complaints of less tables available, uncleaned bathrooms and a smaller menu.

This post was last updated in March 2022.

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