Bar Rescue - Lona's Wardlow Station / Lona’s City Limit Cantina - OPEN

Lona's Wardlow Station Bar Rescue

In this episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer visits Lona’s Wardlow Station in Long Beach, California.

Lona’s Wardlow Station is owned by Lona Lee.

She is a career bartender who bought Wardlow Station in 1989.

Wardlow Station is a local blue-collar bar.

Lona figured that since she can work 80-hours a week for two people, she could work the same hours for herself.

With no previous ownership experience, Lona hired a staff of friends and regulars.

In the beginning, Lona’s flourished.

Lona said she was able to pay off her $160,000 loan in the first three years.

Lona’s lack of experience quickly caught up to her.

She allowed the bartenders to do the bare minimum.

As a last resort to try to bring in money, Lona brought in a lobster arcade game.

Lona has invested $250,000 into this bar and only has 60 days left until she has to close for good.

Lona makes a call for help to Bar Rescue.

Long Beach, California is just 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

Long beach is ranked 19th out of the top 101 cities with the most industrial jobs in the country.

For the kitchen, Jon has brought in executive chef Jason Febres.

Jason specializes in simple, healthy cuisine.

For the bar, Jon has brought in mixologist of the year Russel Davis.

Jon has Russel do the recon tonight.

Lona’s Wardlow Station is a 3,000-square-foot space that has two serving wells, 25 beers on tap and a billiard room.

Russell says you can tell that this bar hasn’t had new customers in a long time.

The bar is very unsteady.

Russell orders a draft beer, but it’s warm so he orders a margarita.

He says that they didn’t make it right and it tastes bad.

Russell tries to get a lobster out of the claw machine.

The cook drops the lobster into water that isn’t boiling yet.

Jon says that this won’t be cooked properly and it will be riddled with bacteria.

Jon decides that now is time to walk into the bar.

Lona says that she didn’t know what to expect when Jon walked in.

The lobster wasn’t white, which means it isn’t cooked all the way through.

Jon has Russell go behind the bar to check things out and same for Jason in the kitchen.

Jon meets with Lona to get more information about the bar.

Jon and Lona discuss how the lobster claw machine isn’t healthy for the lobsters and isn’t making them money.

Jon says that California is one of the biggest states for animal cruelty advocates.

Jon meets with the staff.

He wants Lona to tell her staff that things need to change right now.

Lona tells them she is disappointed but know that it can be fixed.

Jon tells them to clean the bar tonight and get rid of the lobster tank.

The staff spends all night cleaning the bar and Lona makes a call to get rid of the lobster tank.

Jon tells Lona that he’s proud of her for getting rid of the lobster tank.

Jon had his team fix the bar enough to last a few more days before he starts the remodel.

Manager Bill left the bar last night and did not help to clean the bar.

Jon makes Bill apologize for leaving the bar early but he hesitates before doing so.

Jon shows the staff how on Sunday, they gave away $600 of liquor.

Jon says they gave away more than they sold.

He says this isn’t possible without someone taking home the liquor.

Jon asks who worked on Sunday.

Lona says she thinks it’s just overpouring.

Bill was the one working that night so he must’ve been the one who stole this money from the bar.

Jon brings in his experts.

Russell shows them how to properly make a margarita.

Jason shows the cooks how to properly make enchiladas.

He uses fresher ingredients instead of using canned beef.

Jon says for stress test, he wants to see Lona delegate.

He wants to see Bill be a manager and Ally cook food properly.

Lona’s opens up for the stress test.

Bartender Coach is pouring beers to keep away from making drinks.

Bill is not being a good manager as he’s not stepping up.

Jon benches Coach due to his performance.

Bartender Mikey is much faster and Jon says that he is more confident than anyone in the building.

Ally is overwhelmed with the number of orders in the kitchen.

Jason says that Ally and Lona need to communicate better.

The wait time for food is incredibly long.

Ally thinks she needs more help in the kitchen.

Jason says that Ally doesn’t have any guidance and that it seems as if Lona doesn’t care.

Glass breaks into the ice bin.

Jon says that in that moment Bill was a complete idiot.

Jon tells them to shut down for the night and he has a meeting with the staff.

Jon fires Bill and says he’d rather put his time into the other staff members.

Jon meets with his experts to discuss the new concept.

Jon says that Mikey shows a lot of ambition and passion.

Jon makes Mikey the new manager.

Russell shows the staff new drinks that will be added to the menu including the Derrick.

Jason goes over new recipes with Ally and a new part-time hire.

Lona says she’s proud of all her staff and she’s excited for the outcome.

Jon, Lona, and a local sculptor go over the new concept.

Jon begins construction on the bar.

The next evening, Jon meets with the staff to show them their new bar.

Lona’s has been renamed and is now called Lona’s City Limit Cantina.

Jon takes the staff inside the bar and they thinks the bar looks gorgeous.

Jon installed a new draft beer system and an Inteletap System.

The staff are so excited to open up for the night.

On relaunch, customers are very happy with their food and drinks.

However, the kitchen is a little behind on orders and there is a small wait for food.


What Happened Next at Lona's Wardlow Station / Lona’s City Limit Cantina?

Three months after relaunch, food sales are up by 25%.

Bar sales are up by 35%.

Mikey says he’s glad the lobster tank is gone.

Lona's Wardlow Station / Lona’s City Limit Cantina is open.

Reviews are positive with praise for the food and service.


Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - The Kasbah

Next episode - Dimples

This post was last updated in September 2021.

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