Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Behind the Scenes with Bar Rescue in Omaha -- Oasis Hookah Bar

Well, it looks like our Barstool Telegraph was at it again last night.  As usual, there were several sources reporting in on the happenings during the taping of last night's Bar Rescue.

Led by Deepthroat-esque informant Guy Incognito (no relation to Richie Husker fans)...and assorted others...here is a play-by-play of the evening's events.  Apparently the "highlight" of the evening was a forced, staged and now predictable Taffer rant about some stains on a couch.  Good lord...hope he never comes to my house!  In any case...enjoy the latest recap of events.
HTD informant Guy Incognito
 "Just like everyone else in the city, I didn't know this bar existed until the days leading up to its triumphant rescue. I didn't expect much from this place, and I wasn't disappointed.

I was really hesitant to even come out tonight after the failure to breach the front door at O'Ban-- er, I mean, Sorties last Friday night. Plus, the cold temperatures made me want to stay in my warm quarters for the evening and laugh at the lemmings lining up along Farnam for several hours into the night. Apparently that ended up being the thought process for most people, because this experience was completely different.

Upon my first drive-by around 7:30, no one was standing outside the door at all (aside from the bouncer), but I did see a small gathering of people on the corner of 15th & Farnam. Didn't take long for me to circle back around and secure a parking spot. When I got back to that intersection, the BR staff was starting to get people lined up outside the door.

This was quite the well-oiled machine! Didn't take long to go through the process and be handed a red card that was supposed to be used at a moment's notice at any time during the night when Jon would ask for everyone without a drink to hold it up. That moment never happened, but hey, free souvenir!

That's a bar?

Everyone had their ID checked at least twice while outside. For some people, they were checked a third time while in line with a camera on them, I guess to capture the bouncer doing his job or something.

Walking through the door was very surreal, as I was now in Bar Rescue territory. What I noticed right away was how quiet and well-lit it was. There was absolutely no house music playing, and no one manning the DJ booth either, so this already felt fairly unnatural. Made sense, though, as the music would probably get picked up by the microphones and be nightmarish to edit around.

They were able to comfortably fill the inside of the joint, but they definitely didn't pack the place. This wasn't so much a stress test as it was just testing how the staff can handle a casual Friday night crowd that would be normal for a bar that does decent business. I couldn't tell if the Oasis staff was legitimately stressed by the crowd size, or by Taffer himself, who weaved through the crowd with cameras in tow behind him, ready to strike at the slightest abnormality.

I felt legitimately bad for the Oasis staff at times, because he definitely seemed to sometimes dig into them for small gaps in service that naturally happen in any busy place, blowing certain things out of proportions. His gripes were legitimate, however, so I won't take away from that. The staff did indeed seem inexperienced and likely haven't had to deal with large crowds before.

Fortunately, I never really got the feeling that anything was being staged inside the bar. They may have actually benefited from it in this case, as it seemed like the drinks were getting poured, hookahs were being distributed, and everything was going mostly okay. It wasn't A+ service, but it wasn't horrible. I'm sure the final cut of the episode will make it look like a huge disaster, but to me, it seemed rather uneventful compared to what you see in a given episode of Bar Rescue.

Taffer's final big blow-up occurred before 10 p.m. when he noticed some unsanitary spots on the seating, which seemed to signal the end of the night, as everyone cleared out at that point. Many times during episodes of the show, Taffer shuts places down during the stress test when drinks aren't getting to the customers. But since the crowd really wasn't large enough to back up the orders, this didn't become a problem. I think he needed to find another deal-breaker of an issue at the Oasis to end the stress test, and this was it.


I will say that, unlike O'Banion's, I feel like this place probably needs the help more. It's perfectly forgivable for me to have never heard of O'Banion's before Bar Rescue's visit, as it's just a dive bar in Bellevue that has no reason to have any significant level of notoriety for most Omahans. But for me to have never heard of Oasis, a bar in downtown Omaha, is pretty sinful. Sticking a hookah bar next to a wig shop on a city block that is largely passed over when barhopping is a risky business move, and I can't imagine it has been paying off well, especially when it's hard to find when you're specifically looking for it. I didn't hear any chatter about the real situation with the owner(s), but maybe you know more about that end.
Inside scoop!

This place probably has nowhere to go but up, and I doubt there will be a huge host of people who will be up in arms if he makes some changes. It will be interesting to see if he sticks with the hookah bar format, as I'm pretty sure he's never rescued a hookah bar before on the show. If he nixes the hookah concept altogether, then I can imagine it will probably upset a few people who go there for their fix.

Overall, the experience was actually fun compared to the mess at Sorties. Granted, the environment felt odd, but nothing about my personal experience there felt artificial. The low turnout was a bit of a bummer, especially for the show's producers, I'm sure. But editing room magic will certainly make it seem exponentially worse and chaotic. I might try to return for the reopening since I now have a little more of a vested interest in this particular place, but we'll see.

Something I almost forgot: They were serving a limited drink menu that had 3 drinks on it. They all were very tropical themed in their flavors. There was one with amaretto that I really liked. The other cocktail was supposed to have a cream soda flavor, but I thought it was pretty bland. The third drink was a shot. It was blue and fruity, and was par for the course in the way of fruity shots.

All drinks were being served in plastic cups. I'm not sure if it's because they don't have any proper glassware (this has been a problem in past episodes), or if they were used for practical reasons by being one less thing for them to worry about while trying to just get drink orders out to customers."

10 comments:

  1. I'm pretty sure that it one of those doomed spots. I remember seeing a local band there 10 years ago and I'm sure it's been at least three or four places since. Best of luck to them!

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    1. It is one of the least inviting bars I have seen in a while.

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  2. It upgraded that location from where it was on the pedestrian mall on 16th St. between Farnam & Harney. Thing is, it's barely a bar: it's a hookah/smoke shop. Not a very strong choice for 'Bar Rescue', Oasis has never had a following even amongst the downtown crowd because it's not really a bar.
    Mark

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    1. It's not a bar, and last night they only were serving three drinks. This one makes no sense so far.

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    2. It definitely seemed to suffer from an identity crisis. They did have their full cocktail menu still on the tables, but they were only serving the three drinks last night, as far as I could tell. Apparently they didn't want to stress out the staff TOO much by making them work at a normal capacity of having to possess basic bar knowledge of normal drinks. Taffer and producers must have had no confidence in these bartenders whatsoever, so the Bar Rescue staff may have been feeling a bit burned when the Oasis personnel were actually able to keep up (for the most part)!

      From what I can tell, Oasis was normally trying to go for a nightclub vibe before the rescue, but they completely neutered the atmosphere last night by turning up the houselights and having no music. That definitely ratcheted up the awkwardness, so this bar felt naked as a result, having no identity of its own anymore. And perhaps that's exactly what Taffer wanted last night -- a bare bones performance test that cut out all the distractions.

      They do offer a bottle service, so I thought it was interesting the person who made a comment on the HTD Facebook page that the mixers were served in old Ciroc bottles (this was over the past weekend when the BR staff hadn't officially invaded the bar yet).

      Also, I will say the bathrooms need a rescue of their own. I felt like I was in an outhouse made of drywall!

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  3. Thanks for solving the mystery that was the 'red card.' It will be interesting to see how they spin it in the episode. It did not seem like it would have been stressful at all....I've worked busier nights than that with just myself and a bar back! It was a cool experience, though.

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    1. Bet that was a cool night to be working there...you didn't get yelled at did you?

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  4. Do we have an idea of when the relaunch is?

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    1. If they stick to their usual production schedule, it should be on Friday night.

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    2. Yes, the reopening is definitely Friday night.

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