(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 3 | View All Season 3 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: July 21, 2013
The Bar's Original Name Was: Handlebar Cafe
Handlebar and Grill Address: 210 S Broad St Pawcatuck, CT 06379
Handlebar Cafe, later slightly renamed to Handlebar and Grill, was a Pawcatuck, Connecticut bar that was featured on Season 3 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Handlebar Cafe Bar Rescue episode aired in July 2013, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place before that.
It was Season 3 Episode 13 and the episode name was “Two Flew Over the Handlebars”.
Handlebar Cafe is located in Pawcatuck, Connecticut.
Pawcatuck is a small village with a population under 6,000 people. It’s located right near the ocean.
If you live in the northeast, one landmark is that its very near to the Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Betsy, the owner, bought the bar in 2001.
This means she’s owned it for well over a decade at the time of the Handlebar Cafe Bar Rescue episode.
She has a great big personality that helped her gain early success.
Betsy hired her nephew Dean and sister Stephanie to help out at the bar.
Stephanie and Betsy engage in horseplay that often turns physical at the bar.
Their behavior is driving customers away from the bar.
Betsy didn’t listen to any customer feedback regarding food.
With no bar food, patrons began visiting other bars in the area.
Betsy is close-minded and refuses to change the tacky decor.
She is three months from closing the declining bar.
Mixologist Russell Davis and Chef Brian Duffy come in to help Jon rescue the bar.
The exterior looks as if it is a store.
After Jon tells his experts about Betsy, they see she is already drunk.
Stephanie is drunk on a pool table, and the bartender, JP, is lifting weights.
Jon arranged for sixty bikers to pack the bar to see how things go.
Betsy is overwhelmed by the patrons and feels inconvenienced.
Meanwhile, the bar staff is overpouring, which means the bar is wasting money on drinks.
Stephanie is drunk behind the bar and offers peanuts to the customers since they have no food.
Stephanie and Betsy are rude to the customers, and Stephanie gives a biker the middle finger.
The sisters begin fighting behind the bar.
It’s just generally a disaster.
The experts and Jon’s head into the bar, and Betsy says she is not yet drunk enough.
Stephanie says she knows her sister is struggling, but she doesn’t care.
The kitchen has grease everywhere.
Stephanie is given a breathalyzer test. The test reveals she is more than double the limit.
The next day the sisters are sober and want to say sorry to Jon.
The bar has already been deep cleaned.
Betsy says she is over the top to attract customers, but she now realizes it is not working.
Betsy breaks down and says she is still grieving her husband’s death.
Stephanie is also suffering and is feeding off her sister’s emotions.
Chef Brian teaches Stephanie how to make a simple hotdog and burger.
She leaves in the middle of training to throw up. Artie replaces her and excels.
Russell trains the staff about hospitality and pouring drinks. They struggle to learn before the stress test.
The cocktails are sour during the stress test and must be dumped into a bucket.
One side of the bar is being ignored.
When the food does come out of the kitchen, it is not complete.
The bar has wasted more than six liters of drinks, which it can’t afford to do if it’s going to be a success.
They thank Stephanie for her efforts and close the bar for the night.
The next day Jon sets Betsy and Stephanie up with a counselor.
After that, Jon shows them a greaseless fryer he has bought them.
The staff is brought back in to see the bar.
There is a giant handlebar on top of the building and a huge mural on the side of the bar.
The liquor bottles are at the center of the display behind the bar.
Jon Taffer also added a slight name change, changing it from Handlebar Cafe to Handlebar and Grill.
The customers love the new environment, food, and drinks.
The night begins slow.
But eventually, things pick up, and the night is a success.
So was the Handlebar Bar Rescue episode a long-term success?
Keep reading to learn what happened next and if this Pawcatuck, CT bar is still open in 2023.
Handlebar and Grill Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Handlebar and Grill Bar Rescue visit, let’s talk about what happened after Jon Taffer left Pawcatuck, CT.
Things started off well. Six weeks after the visit, the bar reported that its sales were up 30%.
However, it seems like they didn’t really like Jon Taffer’s changes.
First off, they ditched the Handlebar and Grill name and went back to Handlebar Cafe.
I thought the Handlebar and Grill name was clever, so I was sad to see that.
They also got rid of the new drinks from the episode and went back to the old decorations and aesthetic.
Not all of this was the owners disliking the changes, though.
For example, the big handlebars over the entrance and the mural on the side of the bar had to be removed.
However, this was the result of issues with the local town, rather than the owners’ choices.
The changes ran into issues with zoning and the towns signage regulations.
This article from The Day details what happened.
Is the Handlebar still open after Bar Rescue?
As of 2023, Handlebar and Grill is still open and serving customers in Pawcatuck, CT under the original Handlebar Cafe name.
Reviews are generally good as it has a 4 star rating on most review platforms.
I’ll share some real Handle Bar Grill reviews below.
The bar also regularly posts updates on its Facebook page, which is linked below.
Here’s what the Handlebar Cafe Pawcatuck Connecticut location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view:
The bar actually does still have the Handlebar and Grill sign as of August 2022 (when the picture was taken), despite going back to Handlebar Cafe on all of its profiles.
Handlebar Reviews after Bar Rescue
Overall, the Handlebar Cafe has a 4 star rating on Yelp.
However, it’s only had 9 reviews, which isn’t a lot to go on.
On Google, the bar also has a 4.0 star rating, with over 98 reviews to go on.
Here’s a sampling of a few Handlebar Cafe reviews that were written after the visit from Jon Taffer…
4 star Yelp review from November 2014:
Went there after the Bar Rescue episode to check it out on way home from work.
The owner was there and one of the older gentleman (bartender) that was on the show.
Besides being a cool small place to stop for a drink, the owner and the older gentleman bartender were very nice and outgoing.
Seems to have a “regular” crowd of nice people.
Went back a 2nd time with a buddy who watches the show, on our motorcycles and had a great time.
Was a crowd of about 25people who were all very nice, played several games of pool and the chili dog I had was awesome.
I try and step there every so often on way home from work for a beer and it if was near my home would be my “regular” hangout.
Two Thumbs UP!!
4 star Yelp review from October 2021:
The bike shop that had a bar… oh, and they serve food too!
Slightly unassuming building tucked behind some trees and a bike shop.
We almost didn’t think we were in the right place.
The restaurant has a chill vibe focused on the tap house just like you’d expect.
It took a little bit for us to be able to get our food ordered but surprisingly, once we did order the food came out relatively quickly.
The menu consists of some of the usual German pub fare with a little bit of a twist.
The apps and sides were great and plenty of food for sharing around the table and probably the better part of our meal.
Not a bad thing by the way!
The entrees were still good as well!
Overall, worth the try!
2 star Yelp review from July 2021:
I give it two stars because the beer was cold.
This place is small.
It is decorated as if a retired stripper decided to open up a bar but was confused about whether she was opening a business or having a slumber party for her retired stripper friends.
If your requirements for a bar are cold beer and a place to sit, then this will check your boxes otherwise go some place else.
Overall, while Handlebar Cafe didn’t keep a lot of Jon Taffer’s changes, the Handlebar Cafe Bar Rescue episode still seems like a success since the bar has managed to stay open for almost a decade after the show, with no signs of slowing down.
Handlebar Cafe was the only Connecticut Bar Rescue episode so far.
If you want to see some other nearby bars from the show, you also might be interested in my updates for Marley’s on the Beach / St. Michelle’s Beach Club in Warwick RI, Libad’s in Bedford MA, and The Bone / The Chicken Bone in Framingham MA.
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-03-29 06:10