Air Date: July 19th, 2015
Season 4, Episode 23 – Brokedown Palace
Location: Upland, California
Description: Tension is at an all time at high in Upland, CA when Jon Taffer and his experts challenge co-owners Sam Khalil and Ghazi Ashkar, who continuously micromanage each other and undermanage their staff.
Jon Taffer and his team of experts head to the West Coast to rescue The Palace, a Moroccan-themed bar owned by two brother-in-laws located in Upland, California. Since opening its doors in 2013, The Palace has accumulated $650,000 in debt and loses $8,000 to $10,000 monthly. Business owners Sam Khalil and Ghazi Ashkar hold very different roles within the bar, Sam being in charge of the back while Ghazi entertains the guests in the front with free drinks. Sam and Ghazi both have resentment toward each other for the bars failure, which created a toxic work environment for their employees. The staff at The Palace lacks the leadership, communication, and direction needed from Sam and Ghazi, making it impossible to run the restaurant properly.
Jon recruited help from Alexander Siddig and Iddo Goldberg, actors in Spike’s new mini series Tut, to do recon at the bar. Alexander and Iddo, who finished filming Tut in Morocco a few days prior to their arrival at The Palace, were less than impressed at the poorly executed Moroccan décor throughout the bar. Alexander and Iddo drank a poorly concocted martini, waited fifteen minutes for a menu, and sat through an awkward belly dancing performance. The surveillance cameras placed inside the kitchen captured the chef handling raw meat before touching the plates of hummus, which were then served to Alexander and Iddo. An infuriated Jon radioed them to not eat the food, as it was unsafe.
The Stress Test
Due to the size of The Palace, which sits at 7,000 square feet, the remodeling had to begin immediately in order for it to be completed on time. The stress test took place at Stein Haus, a bar that Jon had previously rescued, and was a complete disaster. The pita bread was burnt, the inexperienced bartenders continuously served inconsistently poured cocktails, and the wait for food and drinks was entirely too long. Jon sent one of the bartenders home after she continued to make the same mistake in holding the bottle of alcohol incorrectly, causing her to make unequal pours. Sam and Ghazi have switched roles throughout the stress test, Ghazi now in charge of the kitchen and Sam out managing the front. Ghazi decides to then leave the kitchen and mingle with guests out in the front, causing an argument to erupt between the two owners. Jon finally shuts it down.
For a fresh start, Jon renames the bar Menara, giving the bar a more authentic Moroccan vibe. Mia Mastronianni, a world-famous mixologist, crafted two signature cocktails for the bar and Penny Davidi, the executive chef at PUMP in West Hollywood, created a menu that authentically captured the Moroccan culture. To enhance the Moroccan theme, tiles were added behind the bar and colors of dark red, orange, and mustard were incorporated throughout the bar. To make the bar area more inviting Jon added bar stools, which were accompanied by newly drafted drink menus. To break the banquet-like seating, Jon implemented a new seating structure.
- People spend 60% more in a well-themed bar.
- Garnishing a cocktail correctly will add style to signature cocktails.
- Business partners need to respect each other in order to be successful with their business.
- When handling raw meat, WASH YOUR HANDS immediately before touching anything else. Always use proper food handling procedures to keep your customers safe.
Six weeks later, Menara earned $72,356 in revenue. The bartenders have excelled and the staff has enjoyed the new sense of leadership felt throughout the bar. Sam and Ghazi are now true partners, who respect each other.
- 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
- 5 oz. Cardamom Infused Pomegranate Syrup
- 5 oz Smirnoff 21 Vodka
- lime wheel
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lime wheel.
The Fig and Honey Sour
- 3/4 oz. Fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 oz. Fig and honey syrup
- 5 oz. Crown Royal Deluxe
Combine ingredients in a shaker. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.