Casual Tap - Bar Rescue Update - Open or Closed?

Bar Rescue Casual Tap

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Casual Tap in Chicago, Illinois.

Casual Tap is owned by Steve Magna, a firefighter who bought the 60 year old bar in 2006.

He did both things full time and his reputation as a firefighter helped with the initial success of the bar.

The stress of his firefighting forces him to close the bar irregularly.

This has driven away business due to the irregular opening hours of the bar.

Soon he left his staff to run it and there was no structure so they did what they liked.

Steve being stressed also got on their nerves.

Steve is friends with Louie and had dreams of him being a manager but he is not stepping up to the responsibility.

He is in debt of over $700,000.

His daughter’s mother is in the end stages of Huntington’s disease.

His daughter has a chance of getting the disease as it is genetic.

The bar has been closed for three months but will reopen for Jon to rescue it.

Jon comes to recon the bar with expert mixologist Rob Floyd and they find the bar closed.

They drive to the Fire House to speak with Steve directly.

Steve lets Jon know he had to close it down so he can be with his family because of the disease.

He wanted the bar to fund him and his family.

His resources can also be used to help his family directly and he had to make the difficult choice.

Jon tells him he is going to help him reopen the bar.

The next day Steve gathers his staff and they open and clean up the bar in preparation for Jon and his team.

While cleaning there is a little friction between Zee and Louie.

Jon comes in and tells them they will be having a stress test in minutes as they want to see the staff in action.

Jon notes there is no draft bar system at the bar even though their name signifies there is.

Jon introduces Rob as he will be in the bar with Jon for the recon.

It is stress test and the fact they cannot take credit cards is disrupting their work.

They point anyone with a card to the ATM machine which ends up not working as the night continues.

People asking for beers are disappointed there’s no beer on tap.

The bartenders are overwhelmed by the number of orders.

Louie makes several mistakes making multiple drinks and they have to be tossed but he still makes the drink horribly.

Louie is about to make a cocktail and Jon notices bugs in the bottle.

Soon customers see bugs in their drinks and in the bottles in the back bar.

With all that has happened they have to shut the bar down.

Jon meets with the staff and Steve blames it all on the bugs.

He is lenient with Louie as he choked even though he just graduated bartending school and he is yet to get enough experience.

Jon says Steve needs a management structure for him to be relaxed with family knowing the bar is being run well.

Jon then takes Steve aside to talk to him one-on-one on picking a staff for management.

Steve is set on Louie but Jon is trying to steer him towards Zee.

Jon decides to run both candidates through a management training programme to see who comes out tops.

Jon gathers the staff and his expert to tell them the name is going to stay the same.

They have to have cocktails to make more money and Rob is creating something new for them.

Jon is also going to run a management sensitivity exercise with a set up of a bar scenario with some errors.

It is up to each candidate to find out what these are.

Zee is first, she refills some glasses, cleans a table for new guests, sorts a bug in a drink issue and identified and solved all issues.

Louie sees the problems but makes a mistake by admitting there was a bug in a customer’s drink to the whole bar.

Steve saw the whole thing and Jon gives his feedback on Zee doing a lot better making a connection with guests.

Rob trains the staff on making some new cocktails with nods to the Chicago Fire Department.

Louie and Zee are called to demonstrate making the drinks just shown to them.

Their drinks are compared with Zee’s and are a lot better.

Jon shows Steve the blueprints for the new bar and he is excited.

The bar is renovated over a day and the staff are gathered late evening to the unveiling of their bar.

The bar has been remodelled to reflect its age and history.

There is a signature cocktail that proceeds would be going to the Huntington’s disease society.

Jon also makes a private donation to the charity on their behalf.

There are two stations with Future POS systems and a four-tap keg.

There is a lifetime subscription to TVT for trainings and Partender for inventory.

In preparing to open the bar for the relaunch Louis cut his finger.

On relaunch, customers are let in and they are excited loving the new additions of the cocktails.

The bartenders miss Louie and Steve finds him in an ambulance getting treatment for his cut finger and he is taken to the hospital.

Jon meets him outside and lets him know everything is working well without Louie and Zee stepped in place of Steve.

Steve’s family come to the bar and he shows them around happily.

What Happened Next at Casual Tap?

Some time after the relaunch Steve and his family were working on personal matters.

They planned on reopening the bar in early 2017.

A month later Steve was asked about an opening date and wasn't able to confirm when it would open.

The bar did not reopen.

Casual Tap closed after failing to reopen.

Steve continued to raise money and awareness of Huntingdons disease.

Please consider making a donation to Huntington's Disease Society of America here.

This post was last updated in March 2022.

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