With Paramount Network’s Bar Rescue returning for the second half of Season 8, hospitality expert Jon Taffer is back on the road, helping bars recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s also one of the last people still saving businesses on television.
What used to be an entire genre of business-reality TV has steadily faded away. Anthony Melchiorri’s Hotel Impossible disappeared from Travel Channel in 2017. Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back, the follow-up to Kitchen Nightmares, aired its last episode in 2020 and has yet to resurface. Marcus Lemonis’ The Profit ended suddenly last fall. Bar Rescue is one of the last two shows doing what it does—the other being Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible, hosted by Jon’s longtime friend Robert Irvine.
“I’m incredibly proud of it,” Jon told me when asked about outlasting almost everyone else in his field. “I’ve been at it almost 12 years [and] it’s a blessing. Every week, I get to go into somebody else’s life and help them, help their business, set up college funds sometimes…It’s an amazing blessing to be able to continue to do this. To be the last pallbearer for my segment of television is amazingly gratifying.”
“But the most gratifying moment for me always is at the end of the Bar Rescue [episode], when the owner himself or herself gives me that hug,” he continued. “When they hug me, Brittany, the things they say to me bring tears to my eyes. ‘You helped my marriage, Jon.’ ‘Thank you on behalf of my children.’ ‘Jon, you’re the dad I never had.’ ‘Jon, thank you for being so tough on me.’ When I get hugged like that, next week I’m even tougher.”
The last hosts standing recently faced off when Jon and Robert came together for the Discovery Plus series Restaurant Rivals: Irvine vs. Taffer. In the three-part event, each expert selected a restaurant and overhauled it, with the finished products being judged to see which renovator reigned supreme. What was it like for the two of them to face off and compare their years of experience?
“I learned that he’s a hell of a competitor!” Jon laughed. “But it was very similar to Bar Rescue. I had to get a lot done in a very short period of time. The difference is I had Robert Irvine chasing me every step of the way for bragging rights as to who was going to win. But not only did I want to win in that show, I wanted him to lose. This was the ultimate two buddies really messing with each other. It was a lot of fun to do it. But boy, he’s tough!”
Bar Rescue airs Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Paramount Network. Restaurant Rivals: Irvine vs. Taffer is now streaming on Discovery Plus.
Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.