This week on Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer and crew are in Sumner, Washington to help out the owners of Schafer’s Bar & Grill. The Bar Rescue happened in May, 2016, and Jon Taffer changed the name of Shafer’s to R.Lee’s during the makeover. The owners did not keep the new name.
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From what we have been able to ascertain, the rescue was not well received by anyone associated with the bar. More on that later, but first, let’s take a look at how we got here.
Backgrounder: How We Got Here
Jeff Schafer opened Schafer’s Bar & Grill in 2010. According to Schafer, the bar was doing well – pulling in $1.2 to $1.8 million per year. After five years in business, Shafer accepted an offer to sell the bar to Nita Wyatt and Ryan Burks. To help with a smooth transfer of ownership, Shafer remained on as a manager, at the request of new owners Nita and Ryan. But Jeff clashed with Nita and Ryan’s new management style and resisted their changes. Revenues declined and Nita and Ryan started to suspect Jeff was sabotaging the business. With $500,000 in debt, and just one month before Schafer’s Bar & Grill closes its doors for good, Nita and Ryan decided to make a call for help, to Bar Rescue. But did they? According to people familiar with the situation, including the owners, the show initiated contact with an offer of a makeover – more than once.
Bar Rescue Gone Bad? Picking Up The Pieces
Not only did the owners not keep the name, they almost immediately reverted the bar back to its original sports theme, including removing the new signage, branding and internal theme changes.
A couple of days after the Bar Rescue makeover, the owners, and patrons were complaining about the changes on social media. In fact, the owners indicated they were picking up the pieces to get Schafer’s back to a sports bar.
On May 7, 2016, Nita Wyatt posted a scathing message about the Bar Rescue makeover on Facebook:
I would like to apologize for all the BS that Ryan and I have put all of our staff through. Jeff, Dana, Little Billie, Lindsay, and Bronson. We should have stuck to our gut when #barRescue called us the 1st time. Our answer was NO they should be called #BarFuckups cause we could have done everything they did ourselves without drama and then telling us what to say. No to mention the Half Ass job they did. I use to be a fan but going to through all this shit has made me realize I may have needed to research deeper. They say they do research to create something unique and different that people are driven to. If they did they wouldn’t have made our bar the same bar as everyone els in sumner. This leads me to believe all their research is done at only bars in the area to get ideas of how to decorate. IF WE WANTED A BAR LIKE EVERYONE ELS WE WOULD HAVE CHANGED IT LONG AGO. As a bar hopper myself I prefer a variety I don’t want every bar exactly the same that would be boring. I would like to send a special thank you to all the locals and regulars Who have helped us move and put shit back. Stacy your 1 in a million for all your hard work thank you Candis fuck your my Ride or Die Bitch I couldn’t live without ya girl. Crystal your a fucking champ coming in to help with all the mess. For those of you I’ve missed I apologize. And R.Lee’s was to be after our son his name is Ryder Lee. Truth be told we are still Schafer’s until new signs come in and the name will be Ryder’s Bar & Grill. What they gave us for a name sounds tooooo much like my ex’s name. Last thing I need is him to walk in cause he would probably think the same not knowing we owned it.
Here’s a look at an exchange on Facebook where Schafer’s refers to picking up the pieces.
Schafer’s Bar & Grill We are not a country bar for those who think we are. We are a sports bar but have to pick up the pieces and get back to that look.
Shana Wageman-Decker If you people don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Have you ever thought about the hurt you might be causing? Do you even know the facts ? Number 1 – Bar Rescue called them !!!! # 2- It will be a Sports Bar , again, get your facts straight , # 3- Kurt your just mad because you don’t work there anymore !!! The owners are nice people who don’t deserve to have people be mean !!!!
Shana Wageman-Decker I’m not going to argue with you. They even had cue cards telling them what to say, they sabotaged their business , even going as far as turning their phone off. They had 20 paid actors the night of the stress test!!!
On May 10, the owners responded to a question on Facebook concerning the “new” name of the bar. Schafer’s indicated the “R.Lee’s” signage was coming down.
Dan Anderson Its not Schafers anymore?
Schafer’s Bar & Grill Yes we are still Schafers the other sign is coming down this week. We never applied to change the DBA so not sure what they were thinking & R.Lee’s really not a fan.
A Closer Look
Schafer’s co-owner Ryan Burks responded to our episode primer with his side of the story. You can read his statement in the comments section at the end of this post. Ryan also offered some clarification on where the name “R.Lee’s” came from. It’s the name of Ryan and Nita’s 3-year-old son. Ryan wasn’t comfortable associating his young son’s name with a bar, so he and Nita decided not to keep the name. Read Ryan’s full response at the end of this article.
- Here’s the Schafer’s Bar & Grill’s Facebook page
- Here’s the Schafer’s Bar & Grill website
- Here’s the Facebook page of co-owner Nita Wyatt
- Here’s the Facebook page of co-owner Ryan Burks
- Here’s the Facebook page of former owner Jeff Schafer
- Here’s the Facebook page of Schafer’s cook, Bronson
- Here’s the Facebook page of Lindsay, who “quit” during recon filming for the episode
- Here are the Facebook pages for other staff, including Dana, Michael, and Little Billie
The Reviews Are In
We always like to take a look at online reviews for the bars featured on Bar Rescue. We were able to find a few reviews at Yelp since the makeover, and for the most part, reviews tend to be positive.
- Great service, good food that was plentiful and good happy hour. We only wish that they had a choice of import beers on happy hour, but everything else was on point. Nice local bar!
- I absolutely love this place. The staff is amazing , the food is excellent. If you ever get a chance to do the party bus I highly recommend it !!!! They have a amazing steak special that I love.
- I have had nothing but wonderful experiences at Schafers! Originally I was brought in to visit Da Le and Billy but I choose to come back because every time I do I make great memories.
- Let’s just say “bar rescue” didn’t rescue them. The food is good, but service has gone waaaay down within the last few years. I used to go all the time when I was 21-22 and was known by name and always had a great time, but recently it’s been a lot worse.
- Used to be amazing! They got bar rescued and now known as R.Lees. hahaha. Complete half job joke. Used to love this place, won’t be back now =(
If Schafer’s really was just a month away from closing its doors back in May, things really must have turned around quickly. What else are we to assume? The truth is we can assume a lot of things, including Schafer’s situation wasn’t as dire as we were led to believe. Nita’s scathing Facebook post should serve as a real eyeopener for anyone considering accepting an unsolicited offer for a Bar Rescue makeover. Let’s just leave it there.
“Listen Y’all It’s Sabotage” Episode Promo Videos
Bartender Quits During Taffer’s Recon
Clashing Owners At Schafer’s Bar & Grill
Images – YouTube