Bar Rescue - The Blue Frog 22 / The Local - CLOSED

The Blue Frog 22 Bar Rescue

In this Bar Rescue episode, Jon Taffer visits The Blue Frog 22 in Chicago, Illinois.

The Blue Frog 22 is owned by Mimi and John.

Eighteen months ago, ex-sales manager Mimi along with her entrepreneur son, John, cashed in Mimi’s retirement to open the bar.

The Blue Frog 22 is in the center of one of downtown Chicago’s most popular neighborhoods.

The location was a potential goldmine and in the beginning, the place was a hit.

They were very busy when they first opened.

Soon, the bar’s childish decor pushed locals and tourists to the trendier spots down the block.

With dwindling sales, tension rose between the mother and son.

Their inexperience coupled with Mimi’s bad temper and John’s lack of leadership has put them in around $400,000 in debt.

Out of cash and out of options, Mimi and John make a call for help to Bar Rescue.

The River North district of Chicago has a population of over 20,000 people, and a medium income of $82,000 a year.

If you are looking for a fun, upscale time, this area is the place to find it.

Jon is in the car outside of the bar with his wife, Nicole.

Nicole heads into the bar.

The Blue Frog 22 is a 4,200-square-foot venue with a linear bar and three dining areas, which seats up to 210 people.

Nicole says that when she first walked into this bar, she felt as if she were at the carnival with the amount of toys they use as decoration.

Nicole orders macaroni and cheese balls, which were frozen on the inside.

Mimi has been drinking the whole time she is there.

Nicole heads back to Jon to tell him what she found.

Nicole says that the only thing they got right was how they were really nice.

Jon heads into the bar to get to work.

Jon says he almost felt as if he were walking into an ice cream parlor.

John and Mimi begin arguing in the kitchen.

Jon walks into the kitchen.

Jon sits with them to discuss what is going on here, with John’s wife and manager, Kelly.

He asks Mimi if she has been drinking tonight.

She says of course she has as this is the bar business.

Jon tells Mimi to stop drinking at the bar.

Mimi says that the toys as decorations is what makes them unique.

Mimi isn’t letting her son speak when Jon asks him a question.

Jon thinks Mimi controls and dominates and people are afraid to speak up.

Jon gathers the Blue Frog staff to get their opinion on why this bar is failing.

The staff don’t seem to know who the general manager is.

The next morning, Jon heads back to the bar with interior designer Nancy Hadley.

She is here to help redesign the Blue Frog.

Nancy says that walking into this bar was worse than she expected.

The bar is clean but the childish decor is awful.

Mimi says she didn’t realize that the decor and child atmosphere was wrong.

Jon gathers the staff for another meeting.

Jon tells them that the toys have to go.

John says that change is never easy but they’re doing this for the right reasons.

Jon says starting now he wants the toys off the walls.

The staff begins taking the toys off of the walls.

Mimi is upset and says she has other business to attend to.

Jon brings in his experts to further investigate this bar.

For the kitchen, Jon brings in expert chef Josh Capon.

John is a little offended by the things Chef Capon is saying but he knows it’s for the best.

Chef Capon tries some of Blue Frog’s dishes.

For the bar, Jon has called in beer expert Jason Baldacci.

The bar’s set-up makes it hard to make drinks quickly because they have to walk back and forth a lot to get supplies.

Jason has the bartenders pour a beer.

The experts meet with Jon to discuss the new direction for the bar.

Jon gathers the staff to teach them how to cater to their local demographic.

Jon asks Mimi who the general manager of this bar is.

Mimi won’t answer the question, she answers in a way that steers away from the actual question.

Mimi asks what her role is.

Jon explains what the owner does.

Jon tells Mimi to make a commitment and make John general manager.

Chef Capon brings in fresh vegetables that are locally grown.

Jason brings in new beer tap handles.

He shows them the difference between beer in a properly clean glass compared to beer in a moderately clean glass.

Jon tells Mimi that he wants her to go home tonight to see how John performs as general manager.

Blue Frogs opens their doors to the public for a soft open.

The kitchen is behind on orders.

Kitchen manager Jay steps back as the kitchen gets more and more slammed.

Jon has Jay switch with the manager who was on the bar.

One of the beer taps breaks.

Jay continues to slack off.

John pulls him aside to talk to him.

John says that he hated having to do that but that is part of the job.

Jon lets the staff know that they need to work on faster ticket times, cleaner beer glasses, and more attention to detail.

Jon tells the staff to step it up in the future.

Early the next morning, Nancy and her team begin working around the clock to transform the Blue Frog.

Once construction is done, Jon meets with the staff to show them their new bar.

The Blue Frog 22 has been renamed and is now called The Local.

Jon and the staff head inside the bar to see all of the changes.

The Local opens up for the first time since remodel.

On relaunch, the Chicago brews are a hit with the neighborhood crowd.

The customers also love the new burgers.

Jon hugs Mimi and says that his work here is done.


What Happened Next at The Blue Frog 22 / The Local?

Thirty days later, The Local and its locally sourced menu items are the talk of the town.

Food sales have skyrocketed up to 50%.

Mimi has remained hands-off and has allowed John to flourish as general manager.

The Blue Frog 22 / The Local closed in May 2018 after Mimi decided to retire.

After Bar Rescue, the customers loved the new food and they were able to raise prices.

They lost over $120,000 due to construction at a neighbouring property meant they were unable to open their patio.

Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Swanky Bubbles

Next episode - The Chicken Bone

This post was last updated in September 2021.

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