RJ's Replay / Frozen Cactus - Bar Rescue Update - Open or Closed?

Bar Rescue RJ's Replay

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits RJ's Replay in Tucson, Arizona.

RJ's Replay is owned by Richard McClelland, who bought the bar in 2011.

He had previously run his parents nightclub for 14 years.

Richard has a love of craft beer and wanted a craft beer sports bar.

In order to open the bar, he had to borrow $700,000 from his parents.

They recognised that he worked hard so they think it should work.

For the first few years it was successful.

It soon fell apart due to his mismanagement and lack of structure for the staff.

The staff think the problems come from management and they drink on shift.

The state of the bar has taken a toll on Rich and Kristi’s marriage.

They both drink too much and Rich is often in tears and they often fight.

The staff end up being counsellors to the couple.

Rich is now $1 million in debt and is less than a month away from closure.

Jon arrives at the bar with expert chef Jason Santos and expert mixologist Ashley Clark.

Jon tells them that 51,000 cars drive past every day and there is nothing to make you stop.

He also points out that it doesn’t look appealing to women with no safe exit to the bar.

Jon tells them that Rich’s parents put in $700,000 and he put in $100,000 and has never really made money.

On the footage, Rich is shown laughing and joking with customers and Kristi is drinking with friends.

There are other staff members including bartender and server Klaryssa, night manager Carlos and day manager Katelyn.

Jon questions why Rich isn’t manager and he is shown buying shots for all of the bar.

It is clear that all of the employees are drunk as well as Rich and Kristi.

In the kitchen Roberto touches the burger with his hands and then the bread and lettuce, cross contaminating the kitchen.

He also rubs his nose and it clear there are food safety issues.

Not once is the kitchen checked on.

Jon flashes back to a previous Bar Rescue Chilleens on 17th and reveals that the owners Donna and Aaliyah have paid off their debts.

Jon has asked them to recon the bar as they were in a similar position to the owners of this bar.

The girls arrive and ask for a drinks menu and are given a beer menu.

Aaliyah tries an ale that was recommended and Donna orders a dirty martini.

Jon notes that there was no effort made to upsell to her.

The ale is warm instead of cold and the martini isn’t dirty enough and is vodka but she wasn’t asked if she wanted it.

The pair want to order food and are overwhelmed by the huge menu on offer.

Klaryssa suggests a sampler where they can try different options and Jon commends that she is hustling.

A drunk customer starts talking to the pair despite them being uncomfortable and suggesting to be left alone.

Klaryssa recognises that a customer is too drunk and refuses to serve him but she is overruled by Rich.

She tells him that the customer was making females and her uncomfortable and he doesn’t seem to care.

Klaryssa goes out for a smoke and Rich follows her outside where their disagreement continues.

He continues to berate her outside even when she is crying and frustrated.

Jon has seen enough and walks into the outside area to talk to Klaryssa.

She breaks down in tears and Jon calls Rich over and shouts at him for failing to protect his member of staff.

Jon tells him that he is buying drinks for people with his mummy’s money and not his own.

Rich breaks down in tears and is comforted by Klaryssa.

She is supportive of him and stands by him despite all the stress of the business effecting his behaviour.

He admits to her the true scale of the debt and that there is no more money.

Jon promises to change the bar and they close the bar for the evening.

He calls a staff meeting and tells them that he wants to help and it isn’t going to be comfortable.

Jon asks Kristi what she does at the bar and she says she is a bartender.

He questions why she didn’t say she was Rich’s wife and that she owns the bar.

She admits that she acts like a staff member as it was never her goal to own a bar.

Jon calls her out on that she drinks for free and gives drinks to her friends.

Rich admits to all of the bar staff how much debt they are in and he hasn’t got the money to pay them on Friday.

Server Ranesha is shocked and is a single mom so she needs to be able to pay her bills.

Jon asks Rich to call his mommy to come to the bar the next day or he will leave.

The staff clean up the bar and are told to ignore Rich.

The next day, Jon arrives and meets Norma and Bill with Rich.

Jon tells them everything that had happened the previous evening and all that he has discovered wrong at the bar.

Bill says he doesn’t know why this bar is failing as Rich has had great success in other nightclubs.

Rich doesn’t know why this bar is failing.

Jon tells Kristi that she has to get behind him and Rich admits it is hard without her support.

Kristi reveals that she was naïve to his feelings on her lack of support.

The bartenders are trained on a Prickly Pear cocktail by Ashley.

Klaryssa is nervous as she has never free poured before but she does well.

For the stress test, there is a queue out the door and the staff are nervous.

The bartenders don’t interact with the customers and no food orders have been taken.

There are no tickets for the food and Rich is walking around aimlessly.

Klaryssa is doing well but the other side of the bar isn’t doing so well.

Jon can see that the bartenders care and have potential but the kitchen is failing.

There are no sections to the bar so there is no waitress covering different areas.

Nearly 30 minutes in there is food sat on the pass, no food has left the kitchen and tickets are piling up.

No manager has checked on the kitchen so Jon calls Rich over, who bursts into tears.

Jon asks Rich to go and talk to a table and talk to the customers.

The stress test was a failure and Rich didn’t work hard enough to pull it off.

Jon talks to the experts on the demographics of the area and that it isn’t a wealthy area.

They will need cheaper drinks and menu items including a fried chicken dish and an El Diablo cocktail.

Jon talks with Rich who tells him that his brother had a heart issue that is genetic and he had to help him run a bar.

Jon reveals that his father died when he was two and he died from a heart attack at 34.

He calls Kristi in to talk about their marriage and how she will support him.

The bar has been renovated with many new features including a moveable wall.

The bar has been renamed to The Frozen Cactus and looks like a different bar.

There are new pool tables, a new colour scheme and new screens.

East Coast Chair and Bar Stool provided all of the bar furniture.

There is BevCheck for inventory for liquor and there are flow meters on all of the taps to monitor sales and wastage.

There are three new Harbor Touch POS systems

On relaunch night, the staff are ready to open the doors.

The bartenders are friendly and are keeping up with the drinks orders.

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

Rich is confident and interacting well with customers.

Klaryssa performs so well and makes multiple cocktails all at once.

Kristi feels like she is leading the team behind the bar.

Jon tells them that the most important thing they have is each other.

Everyone in the bar claps as Jon leaves the bar.

What Happened Next at RJ's Replay / Frozen Cactus?

Six weeks later, sales have increased 30%.

Rich has his confidence back.

Reviews are mostly positive with a few complaints on service and a long wait for drinks.

The food and beers seem to mostly have positive comments.

There are a few comments that the owners are drinking at the bar again but unsure as to whether it is just comments about the show.

Rich and Kristi have planned a vacation to Hawaii to celebrate their anniversary.

They meshed their old name and new name and went by RJ's Frozen Cactus before changing the name again.

They are now called The Frozen Cactus Ice Bar & Fire Grill and are open.

This post was last updated in March 2022.

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