Why ‘Bar Rescue’ Is Saving America

Bar Rescue Back to the Bar Speci
 Spike TV

If you hadn’t noticed, there are some terrible bars out there. Whether it’s the dive bar that just won’t clean its bathroom, or the sports bar that is so obnoxiously bright and loud that it requires frequent breaks, it’s actually pretty tough to find a great watering hole if you’re outside of, say, LA, New York, or San Francisco.

That’s why Jon Taffer's Bar Rescue is such good — even important — television. Returning for its fourth season this Sunday, Taffer promises to keep doing what he does best: make American bars better, one at a time.

"Back to the Bar" episodes return to Spike TV this Sunday, March 27, at 9 p.m. EST with Taffer, a bar and nightlife guru, checking back in on the bars that he’s rescued. “The gloves are coming off” at one Texas bar, he promises.

First, a primer, for those who have never seen Bar Rescue: This reality show orbits around dysfunctional bars where the bartenders are siphoning money from cash registers, the staff is getting drunk and disorderly, or there is such squalor and chaos that customers just are unhappy. Take, for instance, one episode (there are 102 so far), when a raccoon that had taken residence in a bar’s ceiling falls through to join the cast as if a sign from the heavens, signaling help. Taffer, a professional consultant who specializes in turning around nightclubs, bars, and pubs, has saved countless bars from shuttering their doors since the show’s debut in 2011.

Taffer relies on chefs and mixologists to help makeover menus, and lots and lots of surveillance — uncovering tons of illegal activity, money pits, and problem employees (which all makes for good reality TV).

While a bartender that can simply pour a beer and talk to customers works for many great bars, Taffer’s methods seem to work. Most of these avoidable watering holes look like places we’d actually want to get a drink in after. He’s not turning dives into P.J. Clarke's, but he’s helping make those out-there bars — the kind you’ll find yourself stuck in on a layover to Raleigh or if you find yourself sidetracked in San Antonio— more pleasant. Here’s to that. "Back to the Bar" episodes return to Spike TV this Sunday, March 27, at 9 p.m. EST with Taffer.

Here’s a look at the bars that will be revisited:

Dirty Rooster a lakeside bar in Antioch, Illinois, where the bar owner was known to swing from the rafters rather than manage his staff.

Rhythm & Brews in Staten Island, New York, a successful bar that was raking in money until it was overrun by a rowdy biker club, driving away locals.

The Holding Company in San Francisco, California, a bar co-owned by four bickering sisters that was losing $6,000 month.

Mandala in San Mateo, California, a swanky Northern California lounge where staff morale and profits were plummeting.

End Zone in Houston, Texas, two muscled meatheads clash at this bar. From a sneak peek at Sunday’s show, it looks like the owners still can’t play nice and are now running rival bars.