Bar Rescue - Pepe's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina / Par Bar - OPEN

Pepe's Mexican Restaurant & Cantinar Bar Rescue

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Pepe's Mexican Restaurant and Cantina in affluent Canyon Lake, California.

Pepe’s is a 50 year old bar that is owned by Victor and Laura Demonero, who bought it some years ago.

The bar was once a popular fun place, they left it to run itself thinking it would stay successful but there was a steady decline in the customers.

The food has also declined with staff using a microwave for almost all of the meals that they serve.

The owners lock themselves in their office, they are not interacting with staff or customers and oversee the business on their 16 security cameras.

They are losing $6000 a month and are $2,000,000 in debt.

The staff are suffering from health issues because of the stress of the business and describe the bar as a dungeon.

Jon arrives at the bar with Chef Jason Santos and Mixologist Alex Goode.

They notice the neighbourhood is affluent and surrounded by golf courses with golfers who have time and money to spend.

The sign on the bar is confusing and they aren’t sure quite what the place is.

Inside the bar, there are Christmas lights behind the bar but other than this the decor is bland and uninviting.

The kitchen is pre cooking meat for later orders that have yet to come.

They see the owners who hardly come in, monitoring the bar using their cameras.

They meet Victor the server, Devon the manager, Shawnda and Jessica who are both bartenders.

They quickly see that there is a lot of wastage from spilled beer foam when they are pouring beer.

They see their service process for ordering food and it is not up to the task.

They take customers' names for orders but an order was messed up and they gave out the two meals for free.

They can't understand why there is a perfectly good kitchen and they are microwaving the food.

Whilst there are issues in the bar that need intervention from management or the owners, they remain their office.

Jon has organised for some golfers to come in and try out the bar along with him.

Jon immediately talks to customers and finds out someone ordered a margarita but was given a beer instead.

He asks for the owner and the staff don’t really know what to do or say.

Customers complain the food is still frozen in the middle despite being microwaved.

Victor and Lauren are still watching all of this happening in their office without moving.

Jon comes to their office to confront them about the issues during the service.

They admit they are failing and Jon challenges them to come down to the bar.

At first, they resist but they agree to come down to meet the unhappy customers.

They get booed immediately and the customers shout their displeasure with the bar and how they won’t come back to the bar.

They are encouraged to work at the bar; clearing and cleaning that night.

Jon has a staff meeting and Victor introduces the staff to Jon and tells him their roles at the bar.

Devon says she's more of a glorified waitress than a manager when she is introduced.

They are unhappy the owners are distant from them and sit in the office rather than being present in the bar.

They complain that their pay is inconsistent and Victor is insistent it is within the law and is more interested in the money.

Jon shows their Partender report and they lost a massive $11,000 in liquor sales in three days.

This adds up to $48,000 a month and $572,000 in a year so it is no wonder that they are in so much debt.

Jon says they might be good businesspeople, but they have overlooked Pepe’s cost management and they don't see their staff as people.

The rest of the staff are sent into training with Jason and Alex and Jon speaks to the owners privately.

He discusses their goals for the business and their motivations as they don’t really seem that interested in running the bar.

Jason shows the kitchen staff how to make some flavourful crispy chicken wings and tells them that they should never use their microwave.

Alex challenges the bartenders to a pour-test to show them how to save money by pouring with accuracy.

They learn to make some new drinks whilst working on reducing their overpouring.

It's time for the Stress Test and Jon puts the owners in the thick of things instead of locked up in their office.

Laura will be at the front of the house and Victor in the kitchen.

The bartenders seem to be doing well and Laura needs help working the machines.

Victor stands around until Jason tells him to run the food out to make himself useful.

There is a backlog of food orders in the kitchen and one whole side of the bar isn’t being served at all.

The thirsty customers soon start chanting ‘We want drinks!’ putting ever more pressure on the bar staff.

Food keeps being sent back for being cold and the meals need to be replaced putting more pressure on the kitchen.

Victor is causing a disaster in the front of house by giving people the wrong food.

The owners are chastised for the poor performance while the bar is shut down and the stress test ended as Jon has seen enough.

The next day a staff meeting is called and the owners apologise for their behaviour since they took over the bar.

They read out a list of promises to the staff and promise to change for the sake of the bar.

The training continues with new cocktails designed with couples in mind.

It is relaunch night and the bar has been renamed ‘Par Bar’ to attract the local golfing community.

There is a free golf cart that can be won by customers and the bar is now golf themed with a classy decor.

They have a new draft beer system to serve ice cold beer and Glacier Design systems reworked their existing cooling systems.

East Coast Chair and Barstools gave them new furniture and Harbour Touch gave them four new POS terminals and two Sky Tabs.

Alter Design company did the graphics for the wallpapers and they have One Stone for video PR.

They also now have a subscription to Partender and TVT to keep on top of inventory.

The promise the owners made has been framed and put on a wall as a constant reminder that they are committed to change.

Customers are let in to see the new Par Bar and they love the new decor.

The food and drink orders are being fulfilled and the customers love the food and new cocktails on office.

Victor is more confident running food now that they have clear table numbers and a better ordering system.

It is hard to find customers without drinks and all the customers are happy.



What Happened Next at Pepe's Mexican Restaurant and Cantina / Par Bar?


Six weeks later, their sales are up, Victor and Laura are more involved with the business and Devon is now more fulfilled in her manager role.

They reverted back to their previous name Pepe's shortly after Jon left.

They haven't been able to properly reopen as a bar due to restrictions but they are offering takeout.

Reviews about the food are mostly positive with compliments to the food.

There are a few minor complaints about a wrong order and struggling to contact them by phone.


Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Kalaveraz Cocina-Cantina

Next episode - Bottoms Up Bar and Grill

This post was last updated in February 2021.

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