John Green Wants To Save Teetering Bars, One By One

Restaurant, bar and nightlife expert John Green has the sort of British accent and urgent tone you want in a guy who's trying to rescue your business. For the next eight Sundays or so, you can watch him help hapless bar and nightlife owners across the USA, putting a business-oriented beatdown to get these folks' dreams back on track.

Welcome to On The Rocks, Green's new show on The Food Network, premiering Sunday at 10 p.m. Eastern. Here, he talks trends, bar food and whether a business is sometimes simply doomed to fail. Pull up a stool...

Is Middle America getting into more ambitious mixology, or do people stick to their vodka tonics between the coasts?

I think Middle America is definitely on the up and up when it comes to mixology in general, however craft cocktails have a certain place in the bar industry and it's not in every bar. Bartenders need to be well trained and versed in the art of mixology in order to produce craft cocktails, plus the bar needs to be set up and designed in a way to accommodate the creation of said cocktails. Another key consideration for any bar owner is the time it takes to create a craft cocktail, which for many bars and chains alike is not practical. I don't believe a craft cocktail would live up to its name if it was available in every bar in America. As any bar owner knows, the time it takes to serve a customer can affect the bottom line, and taking anywhere up to 5+ minutes to create a single drink, which I've witnessed numerous times, prevents it from becoming mainstream.

Here's the promo teaser for On The Rocks. Watch it!

Do you advise any of these bars in the show to step up their food game, and is that important in your opinion?

Any bar, anywhere that serves food, should always be looking to up their game. Keep it fresh and stay in touch with an ever-changing market place. I have seen too many joints get stuck in their ways, not evolve, and fall by the wayside. I would say whenever a bar does serve food it should be created from fresh, local produce and lean toward sharing and appetizer-style dishes more conducive to dining in a bar. So in a nutshell, I absolutely encourage these bars to step up their food game.

What are some of the most ridiculous things you ran into during the process of saving these bars?

The most ridiculous things I have run into by far all come down to the same thing, the human factor. Owners and staff are so entrenched in their problems they become delusional and blind to what is going on around them. My job is to open their eyes so that they can see and accept their shortcomings and with my help move forward.

Are any bars just not worth saving?

There is no such thing. Doing what I do, I can't believe that this is the case. These people need help and I do everything I can to save them, but ultimately it depends on them. I can set them up for success with design, proper systems, effective marketing and extensive training, but once I leave, it is up to them to follow through. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!

What were some of the easier fixes?

There are no easy fixes! Each joint has its own individual problems that need fixing and I fix them!

Any common traits you found in bar owners whose bars weren't succeeding?

Denial, denial, denial! The owners simply do not see their shortcomings. My job is to break them down like a puzzle and reconstruct them so that "the puzzle" works!

I've always wondered about the beer taps: How often do the lines need to be cleaned, and how often are bars actually cleaning them?

Beer lines should be cleaned a minimum of once every two weeks. This is often NOT the case, resulting in a diminished product.

What are some highlights from the first season of On The Rocks?

The dramatic change from people being defeated to people with a reinvigorated pride and direction.

Last one: What's your go-to drink and/or cocktail?

Grand Cru Burgundy! My go-to drink in a Manhattan.