Two friends, Chris and Mitch, also executive chefs, opened The Hammer’s bar in Las Vegas, Nevada. If you think this was a great plan, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Not even a year into their business, they were already in heavy debt with a business that was failing miserably.
Thankfully for them, Jon Taffer and the Bar Rescue team came to their aid. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies, but they powered through their frustrations, shortcomings, and limitations to create a whole new concept for their bar, amassing a more significant customer base and even getting an entire makeover in the bar.
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What is Hammer and Ales?
The Hammer was a bar that opened in 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was owned by two best friends, Chris Sarrett and Mitch Watson. This duo started off with a fantastic friendship that blossomed into a business idea.
During the initial stages, the bar was making a steady $25,000 in a month. According to the story, Mitch was the partner who did everything, and Chris was mainly in the backseat.
In 2011, hardly a year after they opened The Hammer, Mitch fell sick and was hospitalized for 3-4 months. In his absence, Chris ran the bar to an unfortunate downfall.
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Who is the founder of Hammer and Ales?
Chris Sarrett and Mitch Watson were the founders of the bar initially named The Hammer. After their episode on Bar Rescue, they renamed the bar Hammer and Ales. Chris and Mitch were both chefs by profession, which is why the failure of their bar came as a surprise to the Bar Rescue team.
In Season 3 of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer and his crew headed to Las Vegas to help rescue The Hammer, which was changed to “Hammer and Ales” after the episode aired.
This bar was known to be going through rough waters and dealing with a drained relationship between the bar owners, Chris Sarrett and Mitch Watson.
Hammer and Ales before Bar Rescue
One mile away from the Las Vegas Strip, two friends, Chris and Mitch, opened a bar. It was a success at first and even had a lot of loyal blue-collared customers.
Unfortunately for the business, Mitch, who was undoubtedly the backbone of the business, was hospitalized because he caught a bad case of pneumonia.
When Chris was left alone to tend the bar, he was under extreme stress and coped with it by drinking with his fellow patrons.
When Mitch recovered, the sight that greeted him at the bar was a total disappointment. The business had racked up an astounding $200,000 in debt, and their friendship was on tricky waters.
This is what motivated Chris to reach out to Jon Taffer from Bar Rescue to help turn their business around to greener pastures.
How was Hammer and Ales in Bar Rescue?
When this Bar Rescue episode aired, The Hammer was already in its third year in business. Unfortunately, it was all going well before Mitch fell ill, and Chris was unable to keep the business afloat, leading them into rough waters. As a matter of fact, the business was in a staggering $200,000 in debt.
When Mitch was well enough to return to business, Chris had done a terrible job at keeping the bar above water. They had fallen behind on a lot of payments, and this started a bumpy relationship between the two.
Clad with his team, Jon Taffer heads down to Las Vegas to help with the strained business along with Nick Liberato, a professional chef.
Jon Taffer sent Tom and Mike as spies to the bar first to gather information. They noticed that Chris was, as usual, chilling out in the bar while Mitch was working in the kitchen. They then ordered some drinks and food, but they were served only disappointment. The drinks were bitter, and the food was either unavailable or underwhelming.
Jon noticed that the sign outside their bar was mundane and unoriginal almost at first sight. When Jon Taffer attempted to enter the bar, he had to go through several attempts because the door was stuck.
Jon Taffer finally headed into the bar to greet Chris Sarrett and Mitch Watson. Jon soon found that Chris Sarrett was the majority owner of the business since he had taken a bigger loan and they only had 6 months left for business.
With the short interaction, it was clear that the two friends were bitter and unhappy with the way things had turned out.
When the team went to inspect the kitchen, they were surprised at the amount of neglect. The first step of the process was to make them clean the kitchen and then meet the staff.
Unsurprisingly, the staff made it clear that they were unhappy with Chris’s character and the way he ran things around the bar. They were also robbed of their pay, for which they were angry.
When the staff revealed all their problems to Taffer, it was clear that they were not happy with the management and needed to do something about it. This became an eye-opener for both Mitch and Chris since they were unaware of their employees’ woes.
Experts of different fields entered the show and taught each one how to do the job correctly. For example, the correct way to poring beer and taste. When the stress test was conducted, everyone’s performance was lacking.
In one instance, Jon Taffer was infuriated because both the owners were chefs yet lacked the basic etiquette of storing food properly.
After the underwhelming performance of both the owners and the staff in the stress test, Taffer became furious because Chris was willing to make money out of anything, even expired meat.
The training period commenced, and more experts came into the bar to teach them about food and drinks. With this, there brewed even more chaos amongst the staff. Simultaneously, Jon Taffer took the initiative to revamp and renovate a lot of the space.
The bar’s name was changed to Hammer and Ales instead of The Hammer. The sign outside the door that was unappealing to Jon was also changed to a more eye-catching mural.
There was a lot of unused space inside the bar, which Jon brought it upon himself to renovate. There were more spaces inside the bar for people to sit, plus new equipment in the kitchen and bar to help with convenience.
The main problem in the bar was temperature control, for which they installed new taps. Now they could serve customers the perfect drinks without compromising on other things.
Jon Taffer perfectly redecorated the interiors to accommodate more people comfortably. Some bar policies were also put in place so that their loyal customers could enjoy perks. Chris and Mitch had also made up for their shortcomings by this time, and Chris became incredibly apologetic. Chris even stepped up to say he sold his car to pay the staff their salaries.
When the series ended, it seemed like all was going well for the two friends and their business. After about a month of the new relaunch, the Hammer and Ales business boomed. Their drink sales went up by 30% and 15% for food.
The cherry on top was the reconciliation of Chris and Mitch’s friendship, out of the waters and into more dinner parties with each other’s families. Now they were ready for a relaunch; everyone was on their feet and elated for new customers.
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What happened to Hammer and Ales after the Bar Rescue?
After The Bar Rescue team visited Hammer and Ales, the business flourished. A reported People noticed a surge in the sale of drinks and food on Hammer and Ales. Customers seemed to love the place and even praised the staff for their excellent services.
Within 6 weeks, their drink sales went up by 30 %, and their food sales increased by 15%. The owners, Mitch and Chris, who were always on each others’ throats now had rekindled their friendship, and Mitch even invited Chris over to his house for dinner- a first in two years!
Unfortunately, in 2016, the duo sold their bar to new owners. However, it seems unsure why Chris and Mitch shut the business down because their sales were going up, and reviews about the bar were great before closure.
The duo announced the sad news of Hammer and Ales closing down on 31st March 2016 through their Facebook page. They sold the place to new owners.
Shortly after, in May 2016, the place was renamed Owl. The owner Stephen Galdau opened a tavern in the old bar with 12 beer taps and vegan food options. It also hosts live music and a space to play video games.
Is Hammer and Ales still in business?
After the revamp of the bar, business seemed to be going great until they shut down in 2016 due to personal reasons. Hammer & Ales (formerly known as The Hammer) is no longer in business, and they closed the bar on 31st March 2016.