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The “Bar Rescue” TV Host Launches A New Franchise: Taffer’s Tavern

Oct 13, 2020

Faizan and Adila Kahn photo on a grey background and white text and purple button that says GLO30

Jon Taffer, a TV host known for his long-running series Bar Rescue, is opening Taffer’s Tavern, a franchised neighborhood tavern, with an inventive cooking technique.

Savvy Taffer has partnered with Cuisine Solutions, which is bringing its innovative sous vide cooking to Taffer’s Tavern, and with Fransmart, a leading global franchiser. And Taffer worked for two years with Cuisine Solutions at its kitchens to develop its new menu.

Fransmart, Taffer points out, took 5 Guys Burgers from a couple of locations to 1,200 in a couple of years, through franchising.

Sous vide is the key to its menu. Taffer describes it as “very specialized, where food is cooking in its own juices and it’s cooked to exact temperature to provide consistency and quality.”

Bon Appetit called sous vide “the process of sealing food in an airtight container—usually a vacuum sealed bag—and then cooking that food in temperature-controlled water.”

Taffer expects two of his most popular entrees will be its au jus sandwich, a rare roast beef, and its 72-hour short ribs, which is slow-cooked.

In addition to his TV experience, Taffer ran several restaurants including Alamo Grill, a steak house in Minneapolis’s Mall of America, and the sports bar Mighty Mick’s in Crowne Point, Indiana.

The initial Taffer’s Tavern is slated for Alpharetta, Georgia, with a soft opening in late October and a grand debut in November. It will be operated by Five Guys Taverns, an experienced franchisee. In Georgia indoor dining has returned, though tables need to be separated by six feet.

In addition, Cuisine Solutions has signed a multi-unit deal, as franchisee, in the D.C. area starting in 2021, and BG Hospitality Group, will launch five units in Boston and its nearby suburbs.

To ensure safety, Taffer established specific guidelines including: staff wears disposable masks and gloves; employee’s temperatures are taken daily; disinfecting stations are scattered through the restaurant; hand-scanning technology is installed for contactless third-party delivery.

Taffer says that based on Bar Rescue’s Nielsen ratings of 91 million followers, “using my own brand was a natural.”

As a former restaurant owner and consultant, Taffer came to the conclusion that “the casual dining model doesn’t work anymore.” Pre-pandemic, “We couldn’t find employees. There was such a huge labor problem.”

Since many states have passed $15 an hour minimum wage and permit employee tip credits, wages had skyrocketed, making their business model untenable, he claims

To reinvent it, Taffer focused more on using computer technology in the kitchen, and relying on robotics; thereby reducing staff and cutting costs.

“Our labor costs run 40% less than the average restaurant; that’s a big deal,” says Taffer, who is based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Taffer says he explored a variety of restaurant concepts including bars and lounges, “but tavern was the right fit conceptually. Bars don’t have food, but taverns do. Taverns are calming and relaxing, without bright lights and loud music.”

Sounding like a marketing whiz, he says, “Our slogan is, a bar is a bar, but a tavern has soul.”

He’s trying to create a homey, warm atmosphere. Its guidelines encourage staff to “let your personality shine.” and engage in “interactive dynamics, which is the science of making you, feel special.”

But Taffer downplays the notion that opening during a pandemic is ill-advised. He says, “New Jersey and Connecticut are tracking ahead of last year, and Georgia is about 70% of where it was. We’re coming out of the pandemic.”

Furthermore, he expects about 50% of existing restaurants will shutter. And if the vaccine goes live in 2021, the first thing most people will want to do is go out to dinner and celebrate.

“I think it’ll be a boom time for new restaurants,” he exclaims.

“After the pandemic, all the loyalty will be gone. The ones that build the right brand and connect with customers present an opportunity to get noticed,” Taffer says.

By the end of 2021, he expects to have three Taffer’s Taverns each in the Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Boston area, and then aim at the New York suburbs.

He says the three keys to Taffer’s Tavern success are: 1) quality of experience, encompassing service and product quality, 2) the atmosphere of the environment, when a guest walks in and feels the energy,3 ) financial modeling, aimed at keeping labor costs down.

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