Out with Old, in with the Brew?
There is not much on TV during the summer. I all honesty, I don’t really watch that much television. I stick to the cooking channels, HGTV, ESPN, and local sports networks such as SNY and MSG. I know what you are thinking, “Phil just threw those sports stations in there to look manlier.” But I can assure you, that’s all I really watch.
Lately I’ve noticed there are more shows going into bars and renovating them. I don’t like the results.
I watched an episode of Restaurant Impossible (RI) where Robert Irving goes into Paul’s Pub and Bowl in Paterson, NJ which is about 20 minutes from my house. The place is (was) a total dive with great regulars. According to the show the place is losing money, and really, why else would RI go there? The place clearly needs some help as it’s bordering on the edge of dive and shit pit. The RI crew goes in there does their thing. The problem is that they went way, way overboard.
Paul’s Pub and Bowl had an identity as a local watering hole that happened to have a cool old school bowling alley in the back. Now, the bar looks like every bar where the music sucks and where the yuppies, guidos, preppies, and general douchebags congregate till 2am harassing all the girls and being general dicks. I surmise they could have turned it into a successful bar and still kept the dive vibe like a lot of the places that are featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
Another television culprit is Bar Rescue. I think Jon Taffer is great when deals with a certain type of bar that needs help. Bars that can double as music venues or clubs are perfect for Taffer’s “bar science”. The bars that are true local watering holes suffer from his changes in my opinion. All too often the changes in these places alienate the regulars and dumb down the bar experience. The bars are no longer places to meet with the same friends that you’ve been meeting with for the past few decades. They are now places where buybacks are shunned and there is a signature drink that contains a popular tequila that has a celebrity endorsement.
In the end these shows seemingly save these dying bars, but I feel like they can have similar results while preserving the original identity of the establishment. Our bars and pubs are more than a business, they are mental escapes, vacations, and places where revolutions begin.