On tonight’s episode of “Bar Rescue,” Jon Taffer and his crew came to Jersey City, New Jersey to the Laguna Lounge on this episode titled “El Moronte!!”
In 2008, Ivan Arroyo brought his disc jockey reputation and Puerto Rican heritage to Jersey City. Ivan ran the place with his two sons, Josh and Jeremiah, but things took a downturn when his marriage to the boys’ mother ended in divorce in 2013. He lashed out at his sons and employees after the divorce and turned the family business into a family feud. Josh has a business degree and wants to use his ideas to turn the place around, but Ivan has no respect for his son or his ideas. With over $50,000 in debt, Ivan has left his ex-wife and sons out to dry.
So Ivan has agreed to seek the help of Jon Taffer and “Bar Rescue.” He brings with him Lisamarie Joyce, TGI Friday’s champion bartender and Chef Anthony Lamas to crank up the bar and food menus. Jon knows that Ivan’s ego is his biggest problem. So he sends in two couples of Puerto Rican descent to do the recon for this bar. The ladies order piňa coladas, but they do not make them there. The piňa colada is a Puerto Rican favorite and their country’s drink. So they order rum and cola, but the cola is warm and flat. When they order empanadas, a woman drops two empanadas into oil that is not even hot, so they will be delicious when they are served, but later will not feel so wonderful. Ivan yelled at his bartender for over pouring a drink, but two minutes later, gave everyone a free shot of tequila. In another few minutes, he berated a bartender in front of the customers, and then spoke degrading about her being blonde.
Jon had enough and decided to go in and treat him the same way. He went in and yelled at Ivan and degraded him in front of his entire bar. He then told Ivan to close the bar and have a staff meeting. Jon found that he brings his girlfriend into the bar and this does not sit well with his sons. He also found that his actions of tonight, were par for the course and he degrades his employees in front of the customers on a daily basis. Jon told him to fix the situation with his sons and become a father, and then maybe he will fix his bar. The three went into the back room and shouted it out.
The next day when Jon came in, he found out that Jeremiah was in culinary school and placed him in the kitchen. Josh would be the manager of the bar, so they can prove to Ivan that they have something to bring to the business. When Jeremiah went into the kitchen, the restaurant quality appliances blew him away. Jon had replaced the apartment stove and the poor quality appliances with brand new stainless ones. Lisamarie showed them how to make a proper piňa colada, and then sent them to do it. She will be shadowing them tonight for the stress test and each mistake they make will be noted.
In the kitchen Anthony and Jeremiah were enjoying the time they spent there. The stress test was another situation. No tickets were printed for the kitchen, and orders were shouted at the chef. He lost count of how many empanadas he had to make because of the lack of tickets.
At the bar, Lisamarie continued to dump drinks not made properly as the thirsty crowd waited. Finally, Jon shut the disaster down. He told them there was just one day left to learn how to run this bar. Ivan told him that he had a float in the Puerto Rican Day parade, and Jon told him to be there by noon or else. Ivan made it in time, and Jon thanked him.
The bar training was going well as they fashioned new cocktails and in the kitchen new dishes were being made. When Jon confronted Ivan about open bottles having more liquor than an unopened one, he discovered that cheap liquor was being substituted with cheaper brands. Jon called him a thief, then he went into a rant about how he has all the responsibilities of the bar, and when he yells at someone he is the bad guy. The bottles were dumped and Ivan swore he would never deceive his customers again.
Jon returned in 36 hours to introduce them to the new bar; Tres Cuartos, which means three rooms. Each room was nicer than the next, and looked like Old San Juan. The staff was proud of the new place, and behind the bar, they will not be stepping over each other. With the crowd waiting outside, the new and much improved bar will be packed thanks to Jon and his crew on this episode of “Bar Rescue.”
Six weeks later, drink sales were up 20% and food sales were up 100%. Ivan is still treating his staff with respect and Tres Cuartos is becoming known as the Latin Hot Spot in the Heights.