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Whether It’s Online or IRL, Bar Rescue’s Jon Taffer Is All About Authenticity

He’s got a new app in the works for aspiring nightclub moguls

Social media and review sites have had a positive effect on bar business, says Bar Rescue host Jon Taffer. Photo: Courtesy of Spike


Specs
Age 60
Claim to fame Host of Spike TV's Bar Rescue (new episodes begin Sunday, June 21); president of Nightclub & Bar Media Group and Taffer Media
Base Las Vegas
Twitter @jontaffer

What's the first information you consume in the morning?
I'm a news junkie to some degree, so I'll turn on a news channel like CNN pretty early in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and see what's going on in the world.

Tell us about your social media habits.
I use Facebook considerably. I use Twitter quite a bit for day-to-day communications but also as a promotional platform. We do #TafferTalks periodically during certain episode airings, and we'll often trend number one for a while. I just did my first-ever video on Meerkat. I'm very involved in all of my social media activities. I'm not an actor. I play myself, and I take that very seriously. It's really important to me that every communication I make represents myself.

Lately, people have been posting funny photos of you online with the hashtag #TafferMeme. Was your team behind that?
No, it just happened organically! [Laughs] There's also some fan art that happens on Fridays. Honestly, it's all very flattering. [When Bar Rescue first began], I thought I was going to L.A. to do some pilot and go home. And now I'm starting my 90th episode. I never would have expected all of this.

What are your favorite apps?
I just downloaded a baseball app a couple of nights ago, and it's great. It's something that a 7-year-old boy could play or a 70-year-old man could play. [Laughs] I've also been playing a little bit of Boom Beach lately, which is a game where you blow up beaches. I also have Savant Systems apps that I use to control all the electronics in my house.

You recently launched your own b-to-b app for bar owners called Bar HQ. Is there a consumer app in the works?
We're actually working on a game version of Bar HQ where you build and operate nightclubs and bars to create your own nightlife empire. It's sort of like the Tycoon games.

What do you watch on TV?
I love The Walking Dead, and I really like The Blacklist these days. I watched Lilyhammer, which was a lot of fun, on Netflix. I'm also looking forward to Ray Donovan coming back. You'll laugh, but I don't watch a lot of reality TV. It's not that I don't like it, but I don't really think about it.

How has popularity of social media and review sites like Yelp affected the bar business?
I think it's affected it in a positive way. It's caused operators to raise their standards because the fact of the matter is that you can get assassinated on social media. It doesn't take too many people to start a string. I think that with social media comes accountability, which is good for the industry. The bad part is that it can be used for competitive warfare, and we've all heard those stories where one owner slams another owner with bad Yelp reviews or social media comments. The best thing for an operator to offset any negative comments is to encourage customers who have a good time to say so online.

I have to ask, are the bars on Bar Rescue really that gross when you first visit?
Oh yeah. Everything is absolutely real. Sometimes they're dirtier than other times, but it's completely authentic. And there's no way I would tolerate any less.

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