Bar Rescue - Havana Mix Cigar / Robusto By Havana Mix - OPEN

Bar Rescue Havana Mix Cigar

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Havana Mix Cigar in Memphis Tennessee.

Havana Mix Cigar was opened in 2012 by Robb Hunter as a cigar emporium.

They had a wide collection of cigars on offer to customers.

Due to customer demand he opened a bar, even though he had no experience in the business.

They started serving alcohol in 2014.

Robb brought in his son Rhobb Jr to help and he had to leave his MBA program.

But it didn’t work out as he was not enthusiastic about the business.

The focus is still more on the cigars than the bar so they are finding it hard to attract new patrons.

The bar is lacking in equipment, tools and ingredients.

At the moment the cigar business is supplementing the bar business.

They are over $700,000 in debt and the communication between father and son is going downhill.

Jon meets with his experts on the historic Beale street, a major tourist area with a lot of foot traffic.

Jon has his experts find eighteen friends on the street to go check the bar out while he goes to meet Robb.

Jon and Robb talk about his history and financial situation.

Robb believes his son is too lazy and is not working as hard as he should.

Jon and Robb watch Rhobb Jr as he manages the bar alone.

Cigar expert Jacob Fourth and expert chef Anthony Lamas will be going in to test the service.

They order a cube libre but they don’t have limes.

Next, they order a Manhattan but they don’t know what is in it or have the ingredients to make it.

They are asked to make any kind of whiskey cocktail for them.

Bartender Doug helps with the cocktail recipe and they both hate their drinks.

Rhobb Jr is at the back selling cigars since that’s his comfort zone.

They order food and one of the bartenders has to go cook in the kitchen.

Neither of them were not blown away by the fries or the wings.

Jon takes Robb in to confront his son, who is in the cigar store and he doesn’t notice them standing by the door.

Jon points out Rhobb Jr spent time selling a cigar for $11 while there are several customers waiting for almost $100 worth of drinks.

The experts then give their feedback on the lack of a drink menu and the food.

Rhobb Jr feels bad but says his hands are tied as his father does the procurement.

Robb says he would allow his son to do new things but his staff call him out saying he is resistant to new ideas.

It is revealed Robb set his son up to fail without the tools he needs to run the business well.

Jon leaves them to hash it out and hopefully break down the communication barrier between them.

The next day, Jon meets with the owners and the staff and tells them they need to take the vision past the cigar store.

The staff point out there is no signage that points out there is a bar.

There is a confusion of their brand and there is no Cuban food on the menu.

Robb reveals he never had a father figure in his life so with his son it has been trial and error but he tries his best.

Jon introduces the experts and reveals that the focus is on making the owner more comfortable behind the bar and away from the cigar area.

Jacob takes the staff through upgrading their alcohol front as the cigars are already sorted.

They make a whiskey sour, a cube libre and a basic mojito.

In the kitchen, Anthony then uses what ingredients they have to make some Latino-inspired sauces with the use of limes.

For the stress test, they have a challenge, every time something goes wrong, they put a cigar in a jar.

The goal is to have as few cigars in the jar as possible.

Rhobb Jr directs the staff and they are ready to open.

The orders come in fast and the bartenders are reminded to make multiple drinks at once and mistakes are made.

In the kitchen, the cook time is about twenty minutes because the fryer is bad.

They are able to send out food but eventually the kitchen has to be shutdown as they fall behind.

At the bar, the cooler is leaking and the floor is flooded.

Soon the bowl is full of cigars and they are forced to shut down the stress test.

The next day, Andrea has been hired as a cook and they are trained on quick bite size foods.

In the bar, they are trained on making more earthy cocktails that pair well with cigars like the Manhattan.

Jon sits down with the father and son duo and gets them to open up.

Robb has been scarred by almost losing his son 10 years ago when an emergency happened.

Rhobb Jr pleads for his dad to trust him and they resolve their differences and have an emotional hug.

It is soon time for the relaunch and they reveal the new bar.

The bar has been renamed to Robusto with clear branding showing it is a cigar bar.

Inside has been made more sophisticated and it looks like a smoking room/whiskey bar with lots of leather and warm lights.

Rhobb Jr is very enthusiastic about the changes.

They have two workstations, two Harbour Touch POS Systems and a Manitowoc Ice Machine,

There is a new beer cooler, a new Turbo Chef oven and chairs and furnishings from East Coast Chair and Barstool.

Jon has also given them a lifetime subscription to TVT for training and Partender for inventory.

They soon open for the relaunch and get into it, selling drinks and recommending complementary cigars.

On relaunch, the regular customers are pleasantly surprised they now have cocktails.

In the kitchen, the easy to prepare food is flying out.

The owners are so happy with Jon they hug him before he leaves.



What Happened Next at Havana Mix Cigar / Robusto By Havana Mix?

Six weeks later, it is revealed they are up 26%.

Kimm has become bar manager.

Vilori has taken over the kitchen.

Rhobb Jr now manages the business.

Robusto By Havana Mix is open.

Reviews are mostly positive with compliments to the atmosphere and cigars and drinks on offer.

Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Game Time Sports Grill / The Legacy Bar and Grille

Next episode - Paladino's

This post was last updated in July 2021.

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