(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 1 | View All Season 1 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: August 21, 2011
The Bar's Original Name Was: Blue Frog 22
The Local Address: 22 E Hubbard St Chicago, IL 60611
The Blue Frog 22, later renamed The Local, was a Chicago, Illinois bar featured on Season 1 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Blue Frog 22 Bar Rescue episode aired in August 2011, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place before that.
It was Season 1 Episode 6 and the episode name was “The Blue Frog Sings The Blues”.
Located in Chicago, IL, and owned by Mimi and her son John, Blue Frog 22 opened 18 months before the Blue Frog 22 Bar Rescue visit.
The bar is in a central location in downtown Chicago, which puts it in a strong position to succeed.
However, that also means that there’s a lot of competition from other bars in the area.
Blue Frog 22 was very popular initially and showed a lot of potential, but its weird, ugly décor started driving away customers.
I mean, having toys in a bar is pretty weird, right? It’s not a place I would want to hang out.
Patrons began visiting trendier spots, and tensions rose between mother and son.
Nicole, Jon’s wife, heads into the bar to do recon.
There are three dining areas in the bar, and it seats up to 210 people.
Nicole told Jon there were too many toys and decorations.
She felt as if she was at a carnival.
The mac and cheese balls that Nicole ordered to eat were served frozen in the middle.
When Jon comes in, he finds the owners fighting in the kitchen.
Jon sits down with John and Mimi and their manager Kelly.
Mimi drinks at the bar and says it’s her bar; she can do what she wants.
Jon tells her how unprofessional that is and that she needs to stop drinking at work.
Mimi is dominating and controlling so much so that her staff is afraid to speak.
The staff doesn’t even know who the manager is.
To address the aesthetics situation, Jon brings in interior designer Nancy Hadley.
Upon her arrival, Nancy remarks that Blue Frog 22 was one of the ugliest bars she has ever seen.
That’s not really what you want to hear from an interior design, right?
Jon gathers the staff and tells them the toys need to go.
The team then begins tossing out all of the childish decors that line the walls.
To fix the kitchen and food, Jon brings in Chef Capon, who offends the kitchen staff by being better than them.
Beer expert Jason Baldacci is brought in as well to handle the alcohol side of things.
They both meet with Jon Taffer to discuss the new direction of the bar.
Jon tells Mimi to promote her son to the general manager, while Jason brings in new tap handles so the beer will pour better.
On the food front, Chef Capon brings in locally sourced fresh ingredients.
Jon also asks Mimi to go home.
They want to see how John runs the restaurant without her dominating him.
Kitchen manager Jay lacks leadership, and Jon needs to pull his aide to talk to him.
Jon Taffer tells the staff to step up.
The bar renovations are completed, and Jon brings in the team of Blue Frog 22 to see them.
As part of the remodel, Jon Taffer decided to rename the bar to The Local.
It’s not the most creative name, but it does get rid of the childishness associated with Blue Frog 22.
Plus, thanks to the changes from Chef Capon and Jason Baldacci, the customers love the beer and new food.
So was the Blue Frog 22 Bar Rescue visit a long-term success? Keep reading our update to learn what happened next and if it’s still open in 2023 and beyond.
The Local Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Local Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about what happened to the bar after Jon Taffer and his crew left Chicago.
Thirty days later and The Local is much more popular with the downtown Chicago crowd.
Food sales have risen fifty percent, and Mimi has stayed away from running the restaurant.
This gives John a chance to really step up and take ownership of the newly named The Local.
The improvements also let them increase the price of food, which had a positive effect on the bottom line.
John Reed, Mimi’s son, said that before Bar Rescue they were serving cheeseburgers and beer for $6 total.
After Bar Rescue, The Local was able to charge $15 for a burger and $8 for a beer while still keeping customers happy.
Despite that, The Local didn’t 100% go with Jon Taffer’s changes, as they actually made the bar’s name a blend of the new and old names by calling it Blue Frog’s Local 22.
Jon Taffer also revisited The Local / Blue Frog 22 in a Season 6 Back to the Bar episode named Blue in the Frog Face.
I can’t find it on YouTube, but you can watch the full episode on Paramount TV.
Is the Blue Frog Local 22 from Bar Rescue still open?
The Local / Blue Frog 22 closed in 2018, which means it survived for around seven years after the Bar Rescue episode aired on TV.
Unfortunately, the bar started losing business in 2015 because a neighboring condo complex’s construction project was getting in the way of The Local opening their summer patio.
Despite that, The Local managed to continue until 2018, when The Local / Blue Frog 22 closed for good.
On the bar’s Facebook page, they posted the following message:
After 8 wonderful and crazy years, we’re retiring.
Join us for a week of specials and an opportunity to purchase the amazing memorabilia of the bar!
Our last day is Friday ,May 11!
So, it appears that The Local closed primarily so that Mimi and her son could retire and move on to something else.
As of 2023, the old Blue Frog 22 Chicago location seems to be empty.
There’s an entry on the Commercial Real Estate Listing Service that lists the rental price for that space at around $11,000 per month, so it definitely won’t be cheap if another bar wants to replace The Local.
Here’s what the old Blue Frog Chicago location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view:
Blue Frog 22 reviews after Bar Rescue
At the time that Blue Frog 22 closed, it had a solid 4 star rating on its Yelp page.
Here’s a sampling of a few reviews that were written after the visit from Jon Taffer…
4 star Yelp review from June 2015:
Bar rescue bar alert!
Went on a Saturday night, knowing nothing other than what I saw on the show.
Apparently they have karaoke six nights or seven nights a week??!?!
Good beer list with solid bartenders but all that karaoke is just not for me, ESPECIALLY on a Saturday night.
3 star Yelp review from March 2017:
Great service tonight!
Server was attentive, helpful, and engaging.
Would give 5 stars if they weren’t out of 3+ beers on the draft list that I wanted.
Also, menus seemed a little dive-bar-ish for the environment and location.
All in all a good place.
Came because we saw Bar Rescue.
4 star Yelp review from April 2017:
I have been wanting to come to the local since I saw on bar rescue.
The beer selection is amazing both the draft and what they have in bottles.
The burgers are exceptional.
I ordered the Maxwell with polis sausage in the meat.
It’s spicy and the cheese is a perfect combo.
2 star Yelp review from March 2015:
John Taffer would be disappointed.
We asked for the signature drinks from the bar rescue and the waitress rolled her eyes and said they specialize in craft beer, then walked away.
She didn’t offer any suggestions even thought they have huge displays of liquor as well as posters in the bathroom advertising liquor.
We drank our water and soda.
On the upside, Mac n cheese bites were delish, as was the beef brisket sandwich and bbq pork sliders.
Food was great, waitress unprofessional.
The bar itself doesn’t even look like it’s open, no open signs or lights to pull you in.
If we weren’t specifically looking for it from bar rescue, would’ve walked right past.
Bathroom was gross.
John and Kelly opened a new restaurant
After Blue Frog’s Local 22 closed, John (Mimi’s son) and Kelly (the manager) have opened a new restaurant in Logan Square named Jokers Cajun Smokehouse.
It seems to have decent reviews, with a 4 star rating on Yelp.
You can learn more at the Jokers Cajun Smokehouse website.
As of 2023, Joker’s Cajun Smokehouse is still open, so it seems to be doing well.
Overall, it seems like John and Kelly know a thing or two about running a succesful hospitality business.
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-03-05 10:41