To read an actual account of someone who appeared on “Bar Rescue,” click here.
This weekend I decided to feed one of my minor obsessions while at the same time seeing some new towns in the South. In the past I have written quite a bit about my favorite television show, “Bar Rescue.” Those who read Don’t Blink frequently and those who hang around me know that my fandom for “Bar Rescue” is strong. While watching the latest episode last Sunday, I started looking up all the locations where Jon Taffer has converged on to rescue struggling bars. It just so turned out that last season he transformed three establishments in North Carolina. With a free weekend on the horizon I made plans for a little road trip.
Yesterday, Sidney and I hit the road to visit three different North Carolina bars that were showcased on “Bar Rescue.” Our Saturday tour would take us to the great North Carolina towns of Hope Mills, Garner, and Raleigh. Don’t think we were traveling all day, however. Raleigh, the furthest of the three towns from us, was only a three hour drive. Hope Mills was just a mere two hours away with Garner right on the outskirts of Raleigh.
Friday night Sidney and I sat down to watch the episodes of the bars we would visit. Surprisingly for an avid “Bar Rescue” watcher like myself, I had never seen the Hope Mills or Garner episodes. But after watching them I was filled with excitement for the next day’s adventure. Soon I would be walking on the same ground where Taffer once roamed.
22 Klicks (Hope Mills, N.C.): This bar in the sleepy town of Hope Mills kicked our tour off. In the “Bar Rescue” episode, Jon Taffer takes a place with little identity and immature employees and turns it into a patriotic-themed, well-ran bar. The aim was to make the bar resonate with the heavy military population of the area that sits just 13 miles from Fort Bragg. A military inspired look with American flags, old photos, and a tank was installed.
We arrived at 22 Klicks at 12:30 p.m. We walked in and immediately went up to the bar. We were the only ones inside the establishment besides the bartender and the cook. The bartender was a hilarious Irish young woman who talked with us and joked around the whole time we were there.
The whole place was really cool. It was spotless and the theme was presented perfectly. I really felt like it was a fitting tribute to those in the armed forces. The bar itself was top of the line and comfortable but it was so much smaller than what I expected based on watching the show. I would say that probably 12 people could sit at it. But it really had that homey feel to it and I immediately felt welcome and at ease.
We ordered lunch. Although the gator bites were prominently advertised (as featured on the show), we passed on those. I got a meatball sandwich and Sidney got a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Both sandwiches tasted great but the French fries stole the show. Without telling our friendly bartender that we were at 22 Klicks solely because we saw it on “Bar Rescue,” we subtly encouraged her to talk about it. Although she didn’t appear on the show nor was employed by the bar at the time, she offered us some great insight:
* She said that her co-workers told her that Jon Taffer is extremely nice. She said that Jon fully explained that he would chew them out just so the full impact of the show could be delivered to the television audience.
* She said representatives from the show returned to the bar a couple months ago to film an update. She mentioned her co-worker was featured and that she particularly became annoyed at how close the camera would get right up in her face. She also added that the “Bar Rescue” crew directed this co-worker to go up to tables and introduce herself, solely so they could use it for the update.
I enjoyed my time at 22 Klicks! The Bar Rescue team did a fabulous job. It definitely stands out from your typical bar.
Dual Ultra Nightclub (Raleigh, N.C.): This bar went out of business! All I could do was get a photo near where it used to be. Although disappointed that we couldn’t truly visit it, I loved checking out Raleigh. The area we were in was covered with restaurants, shops, and bars. Right next to where Dual Ultra used to be was an Irish basement bar called Napper Tandy’s. We went downstairs for a quick visit. It was as if we were in a cave (in a good way) and the bar itself seemed to extend for a whole mile!
Moonrunners Saloon (Garner, N.C.): Sidney and I had to backtrack from Raleigh to Garner. This was an arrangement we purposely planned though because our hotel was in Garner, just a short walk from Moonrunners. I am extremely happy we worked it out this way because Moonrunners was definitely a place where I was happy to spend my whole night at.
The bar was originally called Characters Quarters. It was a place where employees would literally dress up in costumes and serve families. Taffer came in and made it a prohibition moonshine themed bar. In the episode the relationship between a brother and sister is prominently displayed. “Bar Rescue” chronicles the way the brother (Guy), who is the owner, interacts with his sister (Alex), who is a waitress. As the show tends to do, this relationship was magnified and portrayed them both as polarizing characters.
When we entered Moonrunners at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night it was absolutely packed. In fact it was so busy that we couldn’t even get a seat. It worked out perfectly though because as we were waiting two seats opened up at the bar. We quickly took the chairs because that is where we wanted to sit all along.
We immediately saw both Alex and Guy. Alex was busting her butt serving the packed place and Alex was doing his job managing. He came over to us a couple times and asked us how we were doing. It was cool to see two people we watched on television the night before in person less than 24 hours later. We observed Guy’s managing style and he definitely runs a very tight ship with his employees. The way he holds his workers accountable though is definitely paying off though because like I said, the place was packed.
In addition to Alex and Guy, Moonrunners probably had eight other staff members working last night. Every one of them was as friendly as could be. Our bartender Summer was incredible and even asked Sidney if she wanted to wear her sweatshirt as she mentioned that she was a little chilly. Whenever one of the waitresses would come behind the bar they would talk to us. The highlight of the night came when a manager named Thomas gave Sidney and I free drinks. I had tweeted a couple times about how much I was enjoying Moonshiner’s and he gave us the free beers as a sign of gratitude for doing so. I thought that was really cool.
The food was phenomenal. I had the Runner Burger that came with two patties, bacon, three cheeses, onion rings, French fries, and onions. The flavor of the patties tasted amazing. It was fresh and fun to eat. I very well could have ate the whole thing but wanted to feel decent the rest of the night so I stopped halfway through. I would love to eat that burger again. Sidney enjoyed her chicken sandwich with blue cheese crumbles. She also raved about her fruity moonshine drink she ordered. It was so memorable that Summer gave Sidney the jar she drank it out of.
Moonshiner’s had a great vibe. I watched several basketball games on the TVs and Sid and I even played Bingo later on. It was a lot of fun. Because it was so busy and the staff was always tied up I didn’t get the chance to ask about “Bar Rescue.” But it didn’t matter because just by being inside the place I could feel the show’s presence. Moonrunners is a machine now and a testament to the fact that “Bar Rescue” works.
I had a tremendous time on our “Bar Rescue” tour. Thanks so much to Sidney for going on one of my nerdy trips. My love for “Bar Rescue” has increased even more and I can’t wait to watch the new episode at 9 p.m. tonight. After visiting a couple of “rescued bars” this weekend, I can say that Jon Taffer does an amazing job. Don’t Blink.