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Bar Rescue pirate bar Piratz Tavern closing; blames “staged” show

Bar Rescue pirate bar Piratz Tavern closing; blames “staged” show

The famous Bar Rescue pirate bar Piratz Tavern is closing Saturday, one day before it will again be featured on Bar Rescue, the show it blames for its demise.

On Sunday, Spike’s Bar Rescue will air a special “Back to the Bar: Hot-Headed Owners,” which re-vists bars featured in the past, including Piratz Tavern.

The Silver Spring, Maryland, pirate-themed bar was first featured on the show’s second-season premiere in 2012.

Jon Taffer dumped the pirate theme and renamed it Corporate Bar and Grill because of its location near office buildings.

The makeover to a corporate-themed bar seemed to be a decent idea but also a dick move designed to create drama with the staff, which was deeply and emotionally committed to the theme.

Piratz Tavern was vandalized, received fake reviews

Being on the show leads to harassment, including vandalism and fake online reviews (here’s how Yelp deals with fake TV-inspired reviews from viewers of reality makeover shows).

Bar Rescue Updates first reported the closing “due to the bar losing their lease” after it was announced in a Facebook group. 

Later, Piratz Tavern posted this to Facebook, blaming the show for its end:

“Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Piratz Tavern will open it’s doors for the last time on Saturday April 4th. Unfortunately the negative publicity, constant prank calls, vandalism and bogus reviews generated by our unfortunate participation on Bar Rescue have taken their toll.

To add insult to injury, late last year Taffer’s crew reached out to me again asking that we participate in a back to the bar episode. They promised that it would be followed by a re-rescue and that they would right all the wrong’s committed during the first episode. Obviously I don’t learn. I believed them.

On December 1st we went to the effort to open on a Monday, the one day a week we have been closed for 8 years, with a skeleton staff of former employees who agreed to play the parts. It was basically coerced and staged to be an opening act for a re-rescue. I was told to bring in several changes of clothes to make it appear that filming covered several days.

As usual they brought in a bunch of extras to fill the house and we were told what to say and with whom to speak. Throughout the entire shoot the director coached Juciano to curse and say negative things about John Taffer. He referred to me as the “hero”, my daughter as the “victim” and Juciano as the “villan”.

Total bullshit [frown emoji] Basically we have been fucked by reality TV again and with know one to blame but ourselves, we have decided not to renew our lease. Just can’t take anymore. Director James Agiesta sweet talked me into the deal and then left us behind like carnage, just like the first time. A HUGE thanks to all of you who worked and played so hard to make Piratz Tavern the awesome place it has been for the last 8 years.”

Owner Tracy Rebelo told the Gazette she thought this episode would lead to another full makeover episode, but was later told the show was “going in a different direction.”

It is curious why she’d say yes again after all the trouble the show has caused her, but at least she takes responsibility for that.

Interestingly, she said she was initially contacted by Kitchen Nightmares but declined; Bar Rescue contacted her later.

The paper reports that “Rebelo said last year was difficult for her personally — her father died and her mother was very ill. The persistent ‘Bar Rescue’ anxiety has added to that.”

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart

    Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

Discussion: your turn

I think of writing about television as the start of a conversation, and I value your contributions to that conversation. We’ve created a community that connects people through open and thoughtful conversations about the TV we’re watching and the stories about it.

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Happy discussing!

Steve cieslak

Tuesday 21st of March 2023

Jon traffer should have walked away from this Rescue. The owner clearly was not on board from the get go. You could tell they were not going to embrace a different concept.

Bob King

Wednesday 18th of January 2023

I guess if she stays in the basement long enough, she'll inherit the house. Her pirate bar theme only works in warm, beachfront locations with tourist turnover. It's a gimmick, not somewhere you go weekly; especially if you go once and it's mediocre, you don't go back. Grownups downtown don't want to go to Chuck E. Cheeze. That's what pirate bars are. Playgrounds. Fun once if well done, but not over and over.


Monday 2nd of January 2023

It closed due to poor management and a horrible concept. Perhaps this failed owner can explain how Jon Taffer's remodel was failing.


Wednesday 18th of January 2023

@Phillip, this is exactly right. They clearly know nothing about business and were completely emotionally invested in this theme, which in no way connected with the people around the bar. John came up with exactly what would have worked and what would have made a ton of money in that space. It's too bad they had to be so hard headed. Now they have nothing, and it is entirely their own doing.


Friday 29th of July 2022

That or they failed because they went to a theme that doesn’t work.


Tuesday 13th of September 2022

@Frankie, BINGO!



Tuesday 7th of June 2022

This is not entirely truthful, the customers that fill the bar are not extras. I was on an episode of Bar Rescue (Paladinos) and me and some of my friends were asked to participate randomly. We were not paid and we had to wait a while to get drinks and food bit it was fun!