Bar Rescue - Rob Ben's - OPEN

Rob Ben's Bar Rescue

On this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Rob Ben’s in Oakland, California.

Rob Ben’s is a popular community bar and restaurant owned by football legend Marshawn Lynch.

The bar was opened in 2018 and named in tribute to Marshawn’s late childhood friend, Rob Benjamin.

Robert Benjamin was shot and killed in a violent altercation in Oakland in 2007.

Marshawn gave his aunties Kecia and Shawny, a chance to run the restaurant side of the business.

In his bid to give Rob Ben’s a family-like feel, he also hired family members Donte and Dave, his cousin and brother as bartenders.

He also hired Ralph, Rob Benjamin’s brother as a cook in the kitchen.

Marshawn had other businesses and charities that needed his attention so he let Kecia take over running the place.

She doesn’t delegate and tries to do everything herself.

As a result of this she is overworked and has started getting stress-related illnesses.

With her absence due to her illness, other family have refused to step up to lead the bar and with no leadership the bar is quickly declining.

Marshawn meets with Jon in his car outside Rob Ben’s and tells him about his love for his community about the bar.

Jon notes the colours in the bar are red and black and Marshawn says the colour scheme is based on the colours the Saints football team.

These were the colours of his former team when Rob came to watch him play and it is a treasured memory of him.

Marshawn tells Jon how much of an influence Rob was on his life.

He introduces the staff shown on the footage to Jon including his aunty Shawny, who had worked at the bar under the previous owners and his uncle Cullen, who helps in the kitchen.

Donte is shown on the footage drinking behind the bar and he is too busy drinking and ignoring the customers trying to get his attention to order their drinks.

One customer asks to order a chicken salad and they take the order even though it isn’t on the menu and they don’t have the ingredients to make it.

Ten minutes later, they return to the customer and tell them that they are unable to do the order.

Marshawn doesn’t know his sales figures and is unsure how much liquor is sold in his bar.

Jon shows Marshawn a Partender report for the previous weekend.

They lost $3726 in two days, leading to a projected loss of $16,000 a month and $193,000 a year.

As Donte continues to drink, he begins rapping and using swear words in front of customers including a mother and daughter, who are sat at the bar.

He climbs on the bar to sit on it and is rude to staff and customers.

Marshawn is upset by what he is seeing in the bar and Jon says it is time to go in.

They both enter the bar and Jon heads straight for Donte to point out the uncleared glasses and plates.

Donte gets defensive and Marshawn explains that he is the one paying the bills so things need to be in order.

They confront Donte on his language and how it was offensive to women who were sat at the bar and it is bad for their business.

They also talk to Shawny about how she could allow the behaviour of Donte to happen and doing nothing to try and stop it.

The next day, Kecia comes in to work on payroll when she should be on bedrest.

Jon calls the staff together for a staff meeting and Kecia says she was disappointed with what she heard had happened on the previous night.

Jon shows them reports that shows that their food costs are too high and they are losing money with their food sales.

Jon reveals the results of the Partender report and they are astounded to hear about the losses they are making via drinks.

Donte claims he paid for the beer he had drunk the night before but his aunties don’t believe him.

All the staff say they are onboard with making changes in order to save the bar.

Jon brings in Mixologist Alex Goode and Chef Jason Santos to train the staff behind the bar and in the kitchen.

Jon tells them that he is taking down the awning to make the sign more prominent.

Alex trains the bartenders on new cocktails and notes they show promise, while Jason focused on food presentation in the kitchen.

Jon wants to perform a stress test to see how the staff cope after their training.

Orders start coming in but customers need replacement drinks because the ones they were served are poor.

Jason notices that there is no process for food delivery from the kitchen with no table numbers or order tickets.

Jason shows the kitchen staff how to plate multiple plates of food rather than one at a time.

The stress test isn’t too bad and Jon commends the staff for their efforts.

The Stress Test is ended so Jon’s team can start remodeling the bar.

Jon meets with Jason and Alex to figure out signature drinks and food that can help the restaurant.

Jon also sat down with Kecia and Marshawn and told them they need to communicate better with the staff.

They need to praise them when the do good and they need to punish them when they do bad.

It is obvious that the staff care for the success of the business.

The staff changed in attitude and effort as soon as they were made aware that they were losing the bar money.

After the renovations, staff are brought in and see the new awning with the bar being slightly renamed to Rob Ben’s Neighbourhood Soul.

The inside of the bar has been modernised, with a football mural of Marshawn from his high school days to his NFL career.

Marshawn and all the staff are happy with the changes that Jon has made to the bar.

There are two Harbour Touch POS systems, SkyTabs and OneStone for video graphics.

There is a new ice machine from Manitowac Ice, a lifetime access to TVT and a subscription to Partender.

They surprise Jon by giving him a staff uniform for the bar as he is now part of the team.

On relaunch night, the staff are working hard and they are doing well.

The kitchen is doing well with them taking 7 to 8 minutes on food orders.

The patrons are loving the new food and are happy.

Jon and Donte swap a jacket and shirt to the sound of cheers from the bar.

Jon reflects at the end of the episode that it has been one of his favourite Bar Rescues.



What Happened Next at Rob Ben's?

Six weeks later, their costs have reduced and sales have increased.

The menu changes has been well received with customers, with repeat business and customer favourites.

Reviews after the episode appear to suggest the bar is focussing more on food sales and leaning more towards being a restaurant with a bar, rather than a bar with a restaurant.

Reviews are mostly positive on the food but there are negative complaints on customer service and rude staff.

Marshawn came out of retirement and started playing for the Seahawks in December 2019.


Click for more Bar Rescues

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Next episode - Kalaveraz Cocina-Cantina / Sierra Madre Cantina

This post was last updated in February 2021.

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