If you watched last week's episode of Bar Rescue, you may have been led to believe that downtown's 3-year-old Los Angeles Brewing Company had become not only an actual brewery but a destination bar and restaurant that serves house beer from tabletop taps and Southern-fried chicken wings designed by Kevin Bludso.
But just four months after the SpikeTV show's host, Jon Taffer, cleaned its 100 dirty tap lines, purchased an idiot-proof brewing system and changed the name to “L.A. Brew Co” in what a network spokesperson confirmed was the most expensive rescue ever, the place has not maintained many of Bar Rescue's changes, according to multiple witness accounts. In addition to never actually brewing a batch of beer, it appears that the bar might be operating on what online records indicate is a suspended liquor license and the whole business is currently for sale on a commercial real estate website.
The part sports bar, part gastropub had opened in a 8,000-square-foot, two-story space on Broadway in March 2012, and for a few years 100 taps flowed with decent beer. Giant projection screens attracted game-day drinkers, and the food that came out of the kitchen was at least edible. According to the show, Los Angeles Brewing Company was at one point bringing in $2 million per year (it cost $1.6 million to open).
A dispute between owners, however, led Richard Ramos, a commercial glazer contractor, to buy out the business. He's the guy you see in the episode who replaced the staff with family members, started cutting corners on food and reduced the number of beers on draft from 100 to 18. By the time Bar Rescue started filming in December, the business was losing $15,000 a month.
Today, many of the show's suggestions — not to mention the six-figure improvements — appear to have been squandered. On a recent visit, there were only 20 beers on draft, many of them macro beers like Coors Light and Modelo. The automated brewing system (which brews according to preprogrammed recipes and cleans itself) was not installed, though three well-executed house beers of unknown brewery origin — an IPA, a black lager and a blonde — were somehow available. The tabletop self-serve tap system was not only pushed in a corner but didn't even have a keg attached to it. And those Bludso wings that looked so tempting on TV were on the printed menu but not available to order. Questions about these findings sent to L.A. Brew Co.'s owners were not returned.
According to a SpikeTV spokeswoman, L.A. Brew Co.'s owners have checked in with the network since the shoot and said they are working on getting the permits necessary to brew on site, since the show does not initiate those on the business's behalf.
As for the owner's attempts to sell the bar now that it's been remodeled, the network says it has no control over what happens after the show leaves.
“There are no rules,” spokeswoman Shana Tepper said. “Taffer comes in, he gives his expertise and the knowledge and the tools, and they can decide if they want to keep it. We just give them the tools they need to be successful.”
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