Jon Taffer is putting his money where his mouth is.
The host of “Bar Rescue,” the cable TV series that features Taffer visiting struggling bars with ideas on how to save their business, is opening a line of restaurants, called Taffer’s Tavern.
The first one opens with a preview beginning Oct. 29 in Alpharetta, Georgia, and will be coming soon to Boston; Washington, D.C.; and other markets. It was originally slated to open in July, but got sidetracked by the coronavirus pandemic.
Taffer says the fast casual establishment is inspired by a neighborhood pub, with technology in place for the COVID-19 era. He envisions a “kitchen of the future,” with strict safety and hygiene measures, including hand-scanning detection and reduced contact. Other elements include protocols for a no-contact, third-party order pick-up system, eliminating the need for delivery drivers to come inside the restaurant.
“The future of food is technology more than chefs,” said Taffer, who connected with USA TODAY via Skype from a large bus that he’s been living in as he crosses the country from his Las Vegas home.
With labor shortages for restaurant work and language barriers among those who apply, he figured a “kitchen of the future,” with vacuum cooking and water ovens that could use fewer people to cook, made sense economically.
“I’ve been throwing food and screaming about dirty kitchens for a long time, so this is nothing new,” he said. “This started with me eliminating bacteria and ended with me helping to eliminate viruses too.”
Taffer calls it the “Taffer Safe Dining System” and it includes:
No raw protein – food is sealed from the commissary. Staffers will be wearing masks and gloves and have their temperature checked three times, at the start, middle and end of their shift.
However, he’s not looking at all robotics.
“I won’t put a machine between a customer and our restaurant,” he said. Instead, he just sees more contactless delivery.
The motto for the establishment is that a bar is a bar, but “a tavern has a soul,” a place to gather with your old friends and make new ones along the way. Beyond drinks, food fare includes sandwiches, custom blend burger, locally sourced wings, a 72-hr braised short rib, and osso buco.
Beyond “Bar Rescue,” which has completed its seventh season and is set to start production again for an eighth, Taffer runs a Vegas-based consulting firm, Taffer Dynamics, where he has worked with such companies as Hyatt, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton; offers online business courses at his Taffer’s Virtual Teaching (TVT); and hosts a podcast (“The Jon Taffer Podcast”), where he interviews business leaders, (Mark Cuban from TV’s “Shark Tank”), TV personalities (Dr. Phil McGraw) and actors (Kristin Chenoweth).