Island Bar and Grill / Island Lounge - Bar Rescue Update - Open or Closed?

Bar Rescue Island Bar and Grill

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Island Bar and Grill in Blue Island, Illinois.

Island Bar and Grill is owned by Adam Shorter who also employs his family.

He employs his uncle Jerroid and his mother Linda as managers.

His cousin Tricey and sisters Yumeka and Sharee are servers.

Adam also employs his cousin Kenaz as the cook.

Adam bought the bar in 2012 as a way to raise money to help his sister.

Her daughter Alicia was badly injured (and later declared brain dead) in a car accident.

This left behind considerable medical bills.

He thought opening the bar would be a good way to earn extra money above his regular job.

Blue Island is five minutes from Chicago.

The bar is run by the family, all to aid Alicia and her mother.

However, the family had no past experience of running a bar.

No one is leading the bar by example and everyone just does their own thing.

Adam continues to give his family second chances, rather than bringing in qualified staff to replace them.

Prentice, another manager complains he can’t fire the owner’s relatives.

Some of the family are taking advantage of Adam.

The bar has comedy one night, salsa the next and then a night of soul food.

Adam feels it’s almost like it’s seven different themed bars.

Adam is $400,000 in debt.

The staff, even those non-family members who work there, complain of having no training.

Adam has sold down his retirement and sold his house.

He is close to needing to pay the staff with the paycheck of his regular job.

For the first time ever, Jon has to miss recon, due to a prior engagement.

He sends in two of his best experts, chef Aaron Miccargo and mixologist Lisa Marie Joyce.

Blue Island’s largest population group is Hispanics, followed by African-Americans with Caucasians in third place.

Lisa Marie points out the outside of the bar is very dark.

Aaron says the inside of the bar looks dated.

There is no clear theme or identity to the bar.

One of the managers is playing pool during business hours.

The bar is a 5,000-foot space, complete with a forty-foot bar and a dance floor.

The recon team are local men who have never been to the bar.

The waitress, Adam’s cousin Tricey, is unfriendly and unprofessional.

The fryer is full of black oil, that is not being drained and cleaned each night.

The whole kitchen is filthy and has not been cleaned in a long time.

The drinks are too strong and served in huge glasses.

The food is so bad, the recon team wants to send it back.

The waitress eats on the job and Adam and other family members have dinner while the bar should be busy.

When the cook learns the customers are sending the food back, he walks out on the job and leaves.

One of the only competent staff is Allison, a non-family member.

The recon team goes in and criticizes the dirt, mold and grease that is everywhere in the bar.

They meet Adam, to ask why the family staff are still here.

They ask if Adam is ready to take the needed steps.

Adam agrees and he fires several members of staff including Tricey and Kenaz.

Jon shows up for the end of the recon and reiterates that Adam needs to do what needs to be done.

Lisa Marie teaches the staff a new drink, with reasonable alcohol levels and in a normal sized glass, not a fishbowl.

As Adam teaches the kitchen staff, the kitchen atmosphere is completely different with Kenaz gone.

The stress test brings in more customers than the bar has ever had.

Drink service is delayed, but food is taking twenty minutes when it should take seven.

Jon says there is no energy dedicated to solve the problem.

Jon feels Adam’s skills should allow him to perform better.

Adam realizes he hasn’t put in place procedures to get his staff trained.

Jon admits the stress test went a little better than he expected but it still isn’t good.

The staff was slow, and the kitchen disorganized.

Adam recommends changing the food to elegantly presented finger food.

Lisa Marie recommends more vodka cocktails.

Jon shows Adam that by serving extra shots in drink he has lost over a million dollars in lost revenue over the past four years.

Adam’s mother, Linda, is brought in and says Adam needs to act like a manager and not an employee.

Jon tells Adam he has to treat this like a business, not a family.

The family wins when the business wins.

Adam says he is ready for the change.

Jon talks about area customers and how they want the downtown experience.

He lays out planned changes to Adam.

He says he may change the name, he may not.

Adam is scared that all the work he put into building the brand will be lost if the name changes.

Lisa Marie introduces a new drink, City Limits, made with cucumber vodka.

Aaron teaches the cooking staff some simple shrimp dishes, including take their shrimp and grits dish and making it sexy.

The staff gather for the big reveal, and the name is now Island Lounge.

The front has been rebuilt to be more modern.

Linda tells Jon today is Alicia’s birthday and a perfect day to reopen.

Inside, the baris more upscale, with furniture befitting a lounge.

The staff and Adam are overjoyed at the new look.

Chandeliers and a new DJ system has also been added.

The bar now has three work stations and unbreakable, cloud-free glasses.

The grand reopening goes well and Adam’s wife is impressed.

She is not just in the change in the bar, but in the change in Adam.

On relaunch night, the guests all have drinks within seven minutes.

The simple menu makes cooking faster and easier the shrimp and grits are a big hit.

Adam is being more hands on and learning the ins and outs of his own bar.

Jon tells Adam to take care of his family and wishes him well.

Jon finishes by saying the staff care about the community and the people in it.

This isn’t just a relaunch but it’s a birthday, not just for Alicia but for the bar itself.

He sees good things in the future for them.

What Happened Next at Island Bar and Grill?

Six months later, drink sales are up 10%.

Both Kenaz and Tricey have asked to come back but Adam has refused to hire them.

Adam’s final message is that the bar is going great, and he is thankful to Jon and Bar Rescue.

Island Bar and Grill / Island Lounge closed in March 2018.

They closed after their licence was revoked following a shooting outside the bar by a bouncer.

As a result the bar was viewed as unsafe and a nuisance by the city officials.

Adam claims that the real reason for the closure is discrimination against his predominately african american clientele.

Reviews after were mixed with some complaints about unfriendly members of staff and the security.

Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Britestar Tavern

Next episode - Shibō

This post was last updated in March 2022.

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