Bar Rescue - Tonic Lounge / Panic Room - CLOSED

Tonic Lounge Bar Rescue

In this episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer visits Tonic Lounge in Portland, Oregon.

Tonic Lounge is owned by Rod Bitton, who bought the live music bar in 2012 with his life savings.

There have been some nationally recognised bands that have played at the lounge.

When big bands are playing the bar gets very busy but in between the bar is dead.

Rod is so focused on the music that the bar and food suffer.

He is stubborn and is not listening to his staff.

He is $250,000 in debt and has only six months until the bar will close.

Jon recons the bar with expert mixologist Lisamarie Joyce and expert chef Vic Vegas.

They see the sign outside only has half the name and it does not state that they have live music.

Cassy and Russ are locals and are Jon’s spies to test the service at the bar.

Jon fills the experts in on Rod and his staff.

Tony is the entertainment manager and Joe is the production manager.

They all burst into laughter seeing the crazy costumes of the band and the stage.

The spies are greeted at the bar and they order one drink from the menu.

When asked for the specials the bartender makes up something on the spot and it is horrible.

They order a Pizza Hoagie, a dish they made up and it is horrible too.

It is so poor that the spies cannot eat it.

Jon and the experts see bugs in the kitchen, both alive and dead.

Rod and his live music managers have a meeting in the middle of the bar in the middle of service.

The band lead singer has Viking horns on his head and his bottom hanging out.

He performs badly to an empty area and manages to chase some of the bar patrons out.

Jon has had enough and he goes in to confront the owners while the experts inspect the bar and kitchen.

Tony and Joe say they have tried to tell Rod the bar sucks and changes need to be made but he does not want to listen.

It is revealed that Rod owes bartender Heather eight weeks of pay.

After claiming there is money, they go give her a check she can cash the next day.

Jon takes Rod to the kitchen to see the extent of the bug infestation.

The cook claims he did not see the bugs because the kitchen is so messy.

The bar also has bugs in the liquor bottles they are serving customers.

Jon makes Rod clean the kitchen and bar before the next morning.

They worked all night and are tired when Jon and the experts come in to inspect.

They are pleased with the cleanliness and absence of bugs.

Heather cashing her check is first thing on the agenda for the meeting.

Jon asks about the Marquee and Tony and Joe say Rod will not let them change it.

Rod laughs every time he is criticised and it annoys Jon.

The staff say they will leave if Rod does not step up.

Rod finally admits he needs the staff and he is willing to change to save the business.

The experts are introduced and the stress test will be everything but will have no live music.

Lisamarie trains the staff on making a balanced drink with a set recipe.

Vic trains the cook on a flatbread dish for vegans and vegetarians.

Customers are let in for the stress test and the drinks delivered do not have enough alcohol and they all have to be returned and dumped.

They run out of cups and Rod is nowhere to be found.

Heather has to go to the back and leave the bar empty while Rod is standing in a corner not helping.

Jon has to point him to what he should do to help and he does not understand.

Customers have been waiting for up to forty minutes.

The kitchen is behind in orders and Rod enters the kitchen for the first time that evening.

Joe and Tony have more of a handle on the bar and Rod is confused.

He does not know how to shut the bar down when he is told to do so.

Jon meets with the team that night and the staff were commended for their hard work but Rod was identified as the weakest link.

Jon meets with Rod and tells him that he is not a great leader or manager.

He proposes that Joe and Tony become co-managers to run the business for Rod.

They are told the news and they are happy with it.

Lisamarie trains the staff on making some new cocktails.

The bar is renovated and the staff are gathered in the evening to unveil the new bar.

The bar has been renamed and is now called Panic Room.

They have updated the exterior so the sign is more visible with clear call-to-actions.

Inside it has been made upscale but still has a Rock n Roll theme.

There is an orange door entertainment system, video cameras in the ceiling and four Revention POS terminals at the bar.

There are also video monitors on the wall courtesy Cinema Online, for live viewing of the performance on stage.

The bar is set up and customers are let in, including the recon spies.

On relaunch, the bar gets started and they make their new drinks confidently and the customers love the taste.

The kitchen is making great food with Joe is doing great expediting food and the ticket times are low.

Jon introduces the band to the stage to a packed audience who love the music.

What Happened Next at Tonic Lounge / Panic Room?

Six weeks later it is revealed sales are up 20%.

Tony and Joe are still managing the bar and Rod takes their advice.

They did not keep the name given to them in the episode and renamed the bar to The Raven.

Tonic Lounge / Panic Room / The Raven closed in January 2017.

The bar was taken over by new owners who reverted the bar back to the Tonic Lounge.

Tonic Lounge closed in August 2019 after the building was sold to new owners who decided not to renew the lease.

Reviews prior to the closure were positive with patrons enjoying the atmosphere, live bands and drinks.


Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - The Palace / Menara

Next episode - Brix Wine Bar / Pacific Coast Wine Bar / Brix Sunset Beach

This post was last updated in September 2021.

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