This week on Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer and his crew are in Phoenix, Arizona to rescue a struggling English-style pub that’s close to closing its doors for good after 21 years of operation.
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In 1995, Englishman David Wimberley decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona and open an English pub – the first of its kind for Phoenix. Initially, the pub was wildly successful and David brought in his brother Tony to manage the operation. During its best year, sales at the George & Dragon topped $1.9 million – but since the death of their mother 5 years ago, David lost his passion for the business.
Back in 2013, David took out a loan for about $40,000 to renovate the pub. Some of the upgrades included new signage, updated tables and booths, and updates to the kitchen and menu.
With the bar losing $5,000 a month, and debt topping $700,000, David put a call in for help.
Unlike most Taffer rescues, the George & Dragon was not renamed as part of the makeover.
Here’s something interesting about David Wimberley – back in 2013, he appeared as a contestant on a Halloween episode of the CBS TV game show The Price is Right, with Drew Carey. He won big. Let’s just say he drove away with a bundle of cash and prizes. You can check out the full story on David’s Price is Right experience over at the Phoenix New Times.
Back in 2007, the East Valley Tribune published a story about David Wimberley’s claim that the George & Dragon has ghosts. Wimberley said paranormal events include “glasses being thrown, names being called out, women being grabbed by invisible hands and bottles of beer exploding in midair.”
Back to Bar Rescue
Here’s part of his message:
“Tonight as most of you know, we are undergoing #BarRescue at the George & Dragon English Pub and Restaurant! #Tonight…we will be doing the reopening at 8:30PM… get here early to beat the line! #Cheers!”
David Wimberley told AZ Central that he and Taffer butted heads during the taping. But by the end, Taffer became the “nicest guy on the planet.” However, David said not everything about the process was positive and he plans to set the record straight during the episode viewing party he’s hosting at the pub Sunday night.
The George & Dragon’s current website is in desperate need of an overhaul – something that David says will be revealed soon: “Pssst.. more peaks.. our new #Website will also be mobile friendly, including a downloadable PDF menu’s as well.”
According to AZ Central, the following improvements were made by the Bar Rescue team:
- Interior and exterior paint job, including a Union Jack flag on the door.
- Booths replaced with pub-style, espresso-colored furniture.
- New signage, carpets, track lighting and partitions.
Here’s a look at some photos of the makeover on social media:
A photo posted by George & Dragon (@georgeanddragonpub) on
The Reviews are in
We always like to take a look at online reviews we find on Yelp and other resources to get an idea on how the bars featured on the show have been doing since their rescues. We found numerous reviews on Yelp, some good, some not so good, but overall, most reviews tend to tilt to the positive side. However, some of the negative reviews suggest the pub is failing to deliver on some points – mainly service.
Here’s a quick look at some positive Yelp reviews since the rescue:
- Cool English place on Central Ave downtown. Once you walk into the bar, there is English memorabilia all over the joint, it almost feels like you are in an English Pub. Great brews on tap as well.
- Great atmosphere and cheap beer. Owner is a great guy that has a lot of pride in his establishment and is very friendly.
- I’m a regular at this place. It’s got a warm ambience, awesome location, nice music and chicken curry to die for!
- Okay had to come back and edit my review. Honestly I couldn’t be much happier. Previously the fish fry was barely tolerable
Here’s a look at some of the negative reviews since the rescue:
- Well, tied and last try with this establishment. I understand “Bar Rescue” did a show here. Sad thing is the service is worse than before.
- As far as dive bars go, this one is pretty bad. They have the worst service I’ve ever seen in a pub. Their food isn’t much better.
- Slow service and $17 for a double Glenlivet during happy hour- the drink was obviously not a double and sat on the bar for 20 mins before being brought to our table, so it was watered down.
Sunday’s episode titled “How to Train the Dragon,” airs at 9 p.m. Sunday, April 24, on Spike TV.