Spike TV's Bar Rescue—think Kitchen Nightmares, but with bars—is in town and is looking to help out J.A. Murphy's. I stopped by the taping last night and got a chance to talk with the host, Jon Taffer, who has run bars and restaurants for nearly 30 years.
Taffer himself looked straight out of a mafia movie and had a similar tough-love mentality when he talked about the origin of the bar. "These were two kids who started a bar in a drunken stupor right after college," he said of owners Keith Murphy and Joel Gallant. "They had no idea about the business side of things."
Taffer and the crew of Bar Rescue have been at the Fells Point spot since Wednesday observing the bar and, ultimately, overhauling the space. Taffer cited severe sanitation problems in the kitchen, a former bartender leaving to start a new business, and a tendency for the bar to encourage binge drinking.
"There is a drink called an Inception Bomb, which, just one of them, puts you over the legal limit," Taffer said. "We want to keep the fun here, but take out the irresponsibility."
When I talked to co-owner Keith Murphy, he said that they were excited about the changes to come—things that could include flair bartenders, a new concept, and a name change. "I mean, to be honest, we should be doing better than we are," he said. "They want to keep it fun and energetic without making it a drunk fest."
I also asked Murphy about the hypothetical name change of J.A. Murphy's. "We can always change it back," he said with a laugh. "But I am willing to get kicked in the balls a bit if it's good for business."
The big reveal is tomorrow and open to the public, so I'm sure it will get crowded quickly. Spike TV said that the second season of Bar Rescue is going to start in July, and the episode's airdate will be soon after.
[Image: courtesy of J.A. Murphy's]