Bar Rescue - Thunderbolt Bar and Grill / Thunderbird KSC Tavern - OPEN

Bar Rescue Thunderbolt Bar and Grill

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Thunderbolt Bar and Grill in Pleasant Valley, Missouri.

Thunderbolt Bar and Grill is owned by Don Gibson, who bought it in 2018.

It was a failure from the start and the up to 7000 factory workers who work close by are not patronising the bar.

Poor leadership and lack of experience has led to the bar being directionless.

Don has created tension with staff by not learning their names.

The bar is in a state of serious disrepair and he is $500,000 in debt.

Don’s niece Ray was brought in to run things but she is overworked and considering leaving.

Jon brings in celebrity Jenny McCarthy to recon the bar with him.

They view the bar interior and are distracted by the galvanised metal covering the walls.

Jon fills her in on information about the owner Don.

They see Ray cooking in the kitchen with cook Salvador.

Amber and Christina are bartenders and Gary is a barback.

They see Don pouring free drinks for customers and himself.

He is also exposing his hairy armpits in a sleeveless top.

They also witness Don being disrespectful to women by saying he just calls every girl Rachel.

He is giving away drinks and engaging in unsanitary behaviour.

Going into the bar for Jon are expert chef Anthony Lamas, and expert mixologist Lisamarie Joyce, who are both in disguise.

They order a draft of beer and a rum and coke.

They are asked if a serving of tacos is theirs even though they haven’t ordered food yet.

They see Gary being rude and Don is still giving out free drinks, especially to his friends.

The beer they ordered is warm and they are given a free beer shot cocktail to try.

They order some tacos and a BLT sandwich.

The backroom with the food looks dirty and there is black frying oil in the fryers.

The food is prepped on a work top that is likely covered with bacteria.

Jon and Jennie decide it’s time to enter the bar and stop Anthony from eating the food.

Jon stops people from eating citing poor kitchen sanitation.

He confronts Don on the state of the bar and takes him into the kitchen.

They see 3-week-old food, grimy surfaces, improper storage and poor sanitation.

Don says his employees don’t stay long enough to remember their names.

He isn’t responsible for what happens in the kitchen.

They remind him as an owner he is responsible and as someone who is in so much debt he should care more.

He is told to stop drinking at the bar and clean up the place for an inspection the next day.

The next morning, Jon invites Don’s daughter Catherine to reinspire Don on his main goal of leaving the bar to his kids and grandkids.

Don says he’s losing $6000 a month and is weeks away from closing.

Jon shows Don on video doing body shots off one of his bartenders and arguing about his high drinks bill with his staff.

Don was oblivious to how his behaviour made his staff uncomfortable and how it has chased female customers away.

Catherine voices how she’s disappointed in her father.

He is humbled and is made to go change into a sleeved shirt.

The experts who came in as spies the night before are introduced and they give their feedback.

Lisamarie says they need to work faster and produce less bland drinks.

Anthony tells them most of their practices in the kitchen violate the health code.

Jon takes Don and the experts to inspect the bar.

On enquiring about the workstations, they check a broken pump and see it is clogged with insect carcasses and faeces.

The staff are put to work to clean up the bar and Don finally gets to change his shirt.

The staff are surprised to see him once he returns.

Because of all the problems, the stress test has been turned into on-the-job training for a lunch time rush from the factory.

Jon makes them see that there is a huge potential to serve lunch up to four times a day to the shift workers at the factory.

The stress test begins, and it starts almost chaotic.

Drinks are made incorrectly at the bar and dumped.

In the kitchen, they get 25 tickets deep and not one meal had been sent out.

As an added challenge they have some to-go orders that come over the phone.

In the kitchen, the table numbers are absent on the tickets and they have been written on the backs of menus and old tickets.

They are quickly confused when food is finally ready but they don’t know where it’s going.

The phone is ringing continually but they are too busy to answer.

Jon is upset at the lack of a system and organisation.

He is considering not making the upgrades he planned for the bar.

The members of staff don’t believe that Don can or will change.

Jon shuts down the kitchen and the bar, having to send the workers back to work without lunch.

Jon pulls Ray aside and finds out her motivation is to one day become a partner in running the bar.

Anthony trains the kitchen on a sandwich that the workers can eat and take back with them to work.

Lisamarie takes them on making a simple cocktail faster with the help of a mix.

Jon meets with Don and Ray and she lays out her issues with him.

They resolve it and start a conversation that could mean better things for Ray in future.

It is relaunch night and Jon’s team have worked all night on the bar.

The bar has been renamed to Thunderbird KSC Tavern with KSC representing the initials for Don’s grandchildren.

There is a big ‘Lunch Till Midnight’ sign that can be seen from afar.

The interior of the bar is more upscale and warmer.

They fixed the cooler and moved the draft beer system to the centre of the bar.

Venotemp provided the glass frosters.

There are three Future POS systems with one in the kitchen and OneStone Hubs for PR.

Mr Electric removed all the galvanised metal from the walls and East Coast Chair and Barstool provided the new chairs.

They also have a lifetime subscription to Sculpture Hospitality for inventory.

The customers are let in and the bartenders are busy making drinks and Don is running drinks out.

In the kitchen, the orders come in fast but they are on top of it all and getting food out within 10 minutes.

Ray is happy a system has been set up she can manage.

Customers love the food, drinks and atmosphere.

Jon leaves Don with a ‘Saved by Jon Taffer’ plaque.


What Happened Next at Thunderbolt Bar and Grill ?

Six weeks later, it is revealed sales went up 50%.

We are told that Ray left for a better opportunity and Don continued to wear sleeves.

They have kept the new name and Ray now owns the bar.

Reviews after the rescue are mostly positive with praise for the bartenders, atmosphere and tacos.

Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - New England's Ale House Grille / Das Brauhaus

Next episode - Whiskey Girl Saloon

This post was last updated in May 2021.

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