A year ago, Waynesville High graduate Brad Bohannan took the chance of a lifetime, swallowed his pride, and let bar connoisseur Jon Taffer and his crew revamp his Bourbon Street (New Orleans) bar for the popular Spike TV reality television show “Bar Rescue.”
After the episode premiered in February, Bohannan's bar, now called Spirits on Bourbon, has taken off. Bohannan said sales are up more than $100,000 per month and every day he gets customers who venture in after watching the episode.
Though Bohannan and Taffer had their rough run-ins while Taffer was renovating Bohannan's business, the two have remained close since the show.
In fact, a few months ago, Taffer asked Bohannan and his business partner, Steve Smith, to help them renovate a bar in Far Rockaway, New York, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Bohannan said Taffer asked he and his partner for several reasons.
“We've probably been the most financially successful [Bar Rescue] he has ever did,” Bohannon said. “And he knew that Steve, my partner, and I have been through Katrina here and thought that was a good tie.”
Bohannan said that since Taffer had done so much for him, he didn't hesitate to spend a week in New York to help rebuild Bungalow Bar.
“Since the episode, we've been making money hand over fist and we thought we could give back to some of these people that were in need,” Bohannan said.
Bohannan said he felt “humbled” when Taffer chose he and his partner to help him during the episode.
“The most distinguished guy in the industry asked for my help and wanted to listen to my advice,” Bohannon said. “It's pretty humbling, coming from a guy who grew up on the Waynesville Hill.”
Bohannan said that besides remodeling and recreating his New Orleans bar, Taffer has become somewhat of a mentor to him.
“John Taffer is the most sought-after person in this industry,” he said. “Now I have him a phone call away. He calls every once in a while to check in and always answers my questions. He's a lot of help.”
Taffer said he is more than proud of Bohannan and Smith for their successful business and for helping others out.
“Our friendship and their desire to succeed rubs off on others,” Taffer said. “ In fact, their success is inspiring to my other rescues.”
Bohannan, a Waynesville High graduate, is also the owner of a country music publishing company and three bars in New Orleans. He moved to New Orleans almost 20 years ago with $500 to his name and moved to the Bayou State.
Page 2 of 2 - On Sunday, the “Bar Rescue” will feature Bohannan, Smith and Taffer helping restore Bungalow Bar, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy a year ago this week.
“When we filmed this five months ago, Sandy had destroyed the town,” Taffer said. “It was like going back in time with Katrina.”
Bohannan and Smith helped with developing a marketing plan for the bar, bought $5,000 worth of T-shirts and cups for the business, and gave the owners a check for $5,000.
Bohannan, because his bar was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was able to offer words of encouragement based on his experience:
“In disasters like that, it brings out the worst and the best of everybody,” he said. “People take advantage of the situation. The [Bungalow Bar] guys are rebuilding after getting their stuff stolen over and over. I told them that their community will get stronger because people in general are good.”
The Bungalow Bar episode of “Bar Rescue” will air on Spike TV on Oct. 27 at 9 p.m.