If you’re a fan of the long-running reality show Bar Rescue, you probably know Jon Taffer. The 66-year-old nightlife expert invests tough love into struggling bars around the country in a last-chance effort to make them profitable. In addition to following his entrepreneurial adventures, the show sometimes features his other half, Nicole Taffer. Here’s a look into John Taffer’s wife, net worth, and work-related controversies.
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Jon Taffer Is A Nightlife Expert
Jon Taffer was born in Great Neck, New York, on November 7th, 1954. He studied briefly at the University of Denver, majoring in political science, before moving to Los Angeles. As a drummer in a band, music is what first attracted him to the nightlife industry.
“I was a musician when I first started, and I started managing music clubs,” he said in a 2015 interview with Mobile Beat Magazine. “I went into the bar business with a musical background, being a drummer and loving music. So really, music is what got me into the bar business.”
Taffer landed his first bar management gig in 1978 at the well-known Los Angeles nightclub The Troubadour. By 1981, he had assumed full control of the bar, and by 1989, he had opened his first bar as an owner. That same year, he patented a music selection device featuring more than 80,000 songs, all indexed by energy, type, and tempo. This might sound like a Spotify playlist by today’s standards, but remember, this was before digital music existed. It was all records, cassettes, and CDs back then, and Taffer’s creation was one of a kind.
That wasn’t Taffer’s only ingenious (and profitable) invention. In 1994, he helped create and launch NFL Sunday Ticket, a pay program package offering regular-season games not available on local channels. It was a huge success for sports bars at its launch, and today, football fans can access NFL Sunday Ticket at home to make sure they never miss a game. Taffer’s work on NFL Sunday Ticket earned him a spot on the Board of NFL Enterprises for three years.
In 2010, the successful bar owner and businessman became president of Nightclubs & Bar Media Group and organized the Nightclub & Bar Convention Trade Show. He also launched Nightclub & Bar magazine, which has been the leading business publication for the industry for over 20 years. His successful track record even landed him a spot in the Nightclub Hall of Fame.
‘Bar Rescue’ Premiered In 2011 And Is In Its 8th Season
After more than two decades of success in the bar and nightclub business, Taffer was approached to star in a reality show. Bar Rescue premiered during the summer of 2011 on Spike TV (now the Paramount Network). The show follows Taffer as he travels around the country revitalizing failing bars, and it was an instant hit. Part of the show’s allure is the chaotic bar owners, whose establishments are almost always plagued by some form of mismanagement. Fans love watching Taffer’s drill sergeant style of training, and by the end, the bar transformations are awe-inspiring. Season 8 of Bar Rescue premiered on May 2, and it takes place exclusively in Las Vegas — where the hospitality industry has been hard hit by COVID-19.
Taffer says that in addition to making wise financial decisions, being successful at flipping bars has a lot to do with psychology and what he calls refers to as “bar science.”
“It’s the study of human behavior as it relates to a bar environment,” he told the Observer in a 2016 interview. “It is about encouraging you to have more fun, spend, drink and dance more. I want you to have a better time than is natural to you, and I’ll employ various behavioral tricks to get you to do it.”
Taffer offered seating arrangements as an example. “Island bars are ideal because there’s a circular pattern and people flow through,” he explains. “When you’re sitting at the bar, you’re not staring at the wall; you’re staring at another person, so they’re inherently more interactive and more comfortable. At a zero-level in the bar, you do high seating. At elevated areas, you do low seating. So if you’re standing and walking around the bar or sitting on a stool, everybody’s eyes are within ten inches of each other.”
He continued, “That’s why bar stools are critical. That’s why bar shape is critical. Not only that, but when you take a look at seating style, soft seating is critical if I want you to stay longer. Lighting—the lower the lighting, the closer I have to get to you to talk to you. If I want more intimacy, I pull the lights down and you’ll see people get closer together to talk.”
While bar science comes easy to Taffer, he admits that the hard part of the Bar Rescue job is all the travel it involves. The reality star says he spends 40 weeks a year on the road doing the show. “That’s the tough part,” he admits.
‘Bar Rescue’ Controversies
Like most reality shows, Bar Rescue has had its fair share of controversies. In 2014, a bar owner featured on the show filed a lawsuit against Taffer, his wife, and Bongo LLC, the show’s production company. He claimed he was instructed by producers to make sleazy comments about women and hit on Taffer’s wife to stir up drama. What he didn’t know was that Taffer was watching and waiting to confront him, which lead to a physical altercation. The case was dismissed in 2017 after being settled for an undisclosed amount via arbitration.
There was also a Nashville, Tennessee, bar owner featured on the show who was charged with murder the day before his episode was to air. While Spike TV pulled the episode before it premiered, the network forgot to remove it from its broadcast automation system and it accidentally aired three hours later. Though Spike TV never aired it again, the network faced major heat for its mistake. As for the accused murderer, Wayne Mills, he was found guilty of second-degree murder in 2015 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
And, of course, the success of Bar Rescue comes into question pretty frequently. What happens to the bars once the cameras stop rolling? It turns out there are many bars that still went under despite Taffer’s bar science-backed approach. As of now, 87 out of 188 bars features on the show have closed.
Who Is Jon Taffer’s Wife?
Jon Taffer is married to Nicole Taffer. The two have been married for more than 20 years, and she spends about 20 weeks out of the year on the road with her husband. Apparently, their marriage is so strong it inspired Taffer to host the spin-off show, Marriage Rescue, in which he attempts to fix failing relationships.
According to her LinkedIn, Nicole works behind the scenes for her husband’s business empire. She also works closely with Keep Memory Alive, a non-profit organization focused on improving the lives of people impacted by brain disorders. Occasionally, Nicole pops up on Bar Rescue as a mystery shopper to get intel on a bar before her husband comes and rescues it.
Nicole is Jon’s second wife; he has an adult daughter named Samantha from his first marriage. Information about his first wife is scarce, so it’s safe to say that she lives a life outside of the public eye.
What Is Jon Taffer’s Net Worth?
According to CelebrityNetWorth.com, Jon Taffer’s net worth is an estimated $14 million. Obviously, this includes what he’s earned from the many bar and nightclub transformations he’s invested in over the years. It also includes revenue generated from projects like NFL Sunday Ticket and BarHQ Pro, a bar management app he developed and launched in 2014.
Reportedly, Taffer trademarked his Bar Rescue catchphrase, “Shut it down!,” a few years ago. This means he earns cash from shot glasses, sweatshirts, tees, and any other merchandise branded with the phrase.
Taffer is also the author of two best-selling books, Don’t Bullsh*t Yourself!: Crush the Excuses That Are Holding You Back and Raise the Bar: An Action-Based Method for Maximum Customer Reactions. He hosts a podcast called No Excuses, and generates income from his involvement in Bar Rescue and Marriage Rescue.
Despite all of his success, Taffer admits that at the end of the day, he couldn’t do it alone. In addition to the support of his wife, the serial bar owner says he relies on the people he works to help keep his rescues on track. “I have a great team around me and that’s the trick to being able to be this successful, is to understand that it can’t all come from you,” he said in a recent interview with Mashed. “No different than a restaurant. It’s your team that makes you successful, and I have a great team.”