Bar Rescue - Sam Jordan's - CLOSED

Sam Jordan's Bar Rescue

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits Sam Jordan’s in Bayview-Hunters Point, San Francisco.

Sam Jordan’s is a neighbourhood bar that was opened in 1959 by boxer and activist Sam Jordan.

It has seen years of success and Sam Jordan held ownership until he passed away.

It is currently being run by his children Ruth and Allen.

They have no experience and cannot agree on how to run the business.

Ruth manages the front of the house while Allen handles the back of house.

Their inability to work together has divided the bar and the kitchen.

It is affecting quality of service and sending customers away.

They also inherited $500,000 worth of debt in the business.

Jon recons the bar with expert mixologist Derrick Turner and expert chef Vic Vegas.

They see the bar is historic but it has not been updated in a very long time and the signs are faded.

Inside, there is no concept and Sam’s image is hidden away in a corner.

Jon points out the owners and family who work at the bar.

Jon sends in two locals as spies to test the services at the bar.

The bar has no menu for drinks and they order any specials the bartenders can make.

They make a pomegranate kamikaze that is too sweet even though they asked for a non-sweet cocktail.

They want to order food and are told to go to the kitchen as there are no runners.

They order wings and a brisket and have to pay there.

Jon and the experts see Allen cook from containers rather than fresh and the brisket looks dry.

After waiting a while, a bartender goes to check on the food which Ruth says she would not serve to anyone.

The brisket is so dry and full of sauce it is returned to the kitchen.

Ruth was vocal about how bad the food was to the hearing of other customers.

Allen was rude to her when she returned the meal and Vicky is upset with Allen over the drop in standards of the barbecue.

Jon sends in his experts to give feedback to them on their services while he watches.

They ask the bartenders to make an old fashioned but they have no idea how to do it.

In the kitchen, Vic tells Allen about the right temperatures to keep meat and food safe.

Ruth calls Allen out in the kitchen and they start bickering.

Vic and Derrick leave them to sort themselves out that night and it ends with Ruth in tears.

The next day, Jon comes in and meets the staff and family to get to the root of the problem.

Jon finds out they have just months left before the business closes and they have had to take several loans to stay afloat.

The business is so divided, the bar and the kitchen’s finances are separate with the main business not seeing any income from food sales.

Allen does not pay rent, utilities and the main business is losing money.

Allen is called out as selfish and after a bashing he says he does not want the legacy to fall so he will try to work with his sister.

Jon introduces his experts to the staff.

Derrick trains the bartenders on using a Jigger properly so they can make drinks consistently.

In the kitchen, Vic wants to enhance the menu and trains them on a fried chicken with a twist.

The staff are gathered and Ruth and Allen acknowledge they have to work together and Ruth’s fiance offers to run food between the two.

The customers are let in for the stress test and orders start pouring in.

The bartenders are trying their best to move fast but no one has received any food and the wait time is up to ten minutes.

Ruth and Allen are slow because they are used to receiving fewer orders.

The bartenders’ nerves are showing but the kitchen is doing worse as they are not organised.

Only twenty orders for chicken have been made and it is now up to thirty minutes wait time.

When the food eventually goes out to the customers the chicken is raw.

All the food prepped are tossed because they all need to be checked and the kitchen is shut down.

The next day, Jon meets the staff and they go over the failures of the night before.

The day is the anniversary of Sam Jordan passing way and the family is feeling down.

Jon takes Allen and Ruth aside to talk to them about the legacy and goodwill of their father.

They were happy to work together the previous night and realise they can clear their debt if they keep working together.

Derrick trains the staff on the errors from the night before and then shows them a new cocktail called Jordan’s sweet tea.

They are trained individually on new techniques to improve the service.

In the kitchen, Vic trains them on making a brisket in their smoker to keep it juicy and not dry.

The bar is renovated overnight with the aim to elevate it as it is historic.

In the late afternoon the staff are gathered in front of the bar.

The exterior has been refreshed and repainted, so it catches the eye from a distance.

There is also commemorative plaque right in front of the door.

Inside the bar has been brightened with an updated decor while still maintaining the theme with Sam’s videos and pictures on the TV screens.

BNL Seating refurbished the original stools of the bar and there are three new Two Touch POS systems.

Thunder Group provided the stainless steel tables and the fryer.

The register has been removed from the kitchen but a POS system has been set up.

They are given a lifetime subscription to Partender and Table Tents for PR.

The staff love the changes and they organise and open the doors for the relaunch.

On relaunch, customers orders come in, drinks fly off the bar.

The kitchen with an added member of staff are making great food while Ruth is running the food out.

The customers and extended family love the new bar.

The food and drinks are a lot better and they are getting compliments.


What Happened Next at Sam Jordan's?

Six weeks later it is revealed Ruth and Allen are still working together.

Customer numbers are picked up as the community are rediscovering the landmark and Sam Jordan’s legacy lives on.

Sam Jordan's closed in November 2019 due to struggling to cover the costs of the bar and due to a predatory loan scheme.

The bar had previously been put up for sale in May 2019 but it was taken down after an outcry from the community.

It was relisted a few months later after efforts to save the bar failed.

Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Schafer's Bar and Grill

Next episode - The Tradewinds

This post was last updated in August 2021.

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