(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 3 | View All Season 3 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: October 6, 2013
The Bar's Original Name Was: Rocky Point Cantina
Havana Cabana Bar and Grill Address: 1001 E 8th St Tempe, AZ 85281
Rocky Point Cantina, later renamed to Havana Cabana Bar and Grill, was a Tempe, Arizona bar that was featured on Season 3 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Havana Cabana Bar Rescue episode aired in October 2013, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place before that.
It was Season 3 Episode 21 and the episode name was “Crappy Cantina”.
In this episode, Jon Taffer visits Rocky Point Cantina in Tempe, AZ.
Rocky Point Cantina is located in a unique, colorful building.
The bar is owned by Francis and Mary Massimiano, who bought it for their two sons, Scott and Jason.
They bought the bar in 2010, which means they’ve owned it for about three years at the time of the Rocky Point Cantina Bar Rescue episode.
The bar hosts a lot of live music events, with a focus on metal.
It’s located near Arizona State University, which is where the couple’s sons attend.
Scott manages Rocky Point Cantina, while Jason is the custodian and cook.
Since Scott has no prior experience running a bar, he often makes mistakes as Jason does everything he can to keep the bar afloat.
One of Scott’s friends, Anthony, is a bartender, but the two men have a rough friendship.
Scott also hired a heavy metal band to play to bring in crowds, but the band has had the opposite effect driving away female customers.
For all of those reasons, the bar is not doing well, as Rocky Point Cantina is losing over $10,000 per month.
To make matters worse, Fran and Mary are carrying a debt load of over one and a half million dollars.
Chef Tiffany Derry and mixologist Russell Davis join Jon Taffer while he recons the bar.
Jon recruits some female college students to spy on the bar.
The students waited at the bar but eventually moved to another area as the bartenders ignored them.
After ordering an unimpressive signature cocktail, they ask for a beer.
The bar has a draft system but chooses to sell bottles.
The bar and kitchen are filthy, as are the bathrooms.
The band takes the stage, but the volume is loud, so loud the spies can’t hear each other at the bar.
Jon and the experts enter the bar. Immediately Russell admonishes the bartender for the dirty bar.
Chef Tiffany goes into the kitchen and tells the cook he is using bad practices as he has chicken unwrapped and undated on the counter.
The staff is told to clean the bar overnight.
The next day Jon Taffer and the experts return to check the kitchen and bar.
Both the bar and kitchen have been cleaned.
Fran and Mary meet with Jon, and Scott and Jason join them.
The owners tell Scott they are sad he has mismanaged the bar. The women also agree Anthony is a problem.
Russell begins training Anthony, and he asks Anthony to make four different drinks.
Anthony doesn’t make any of the drinks properly.
Jason has never been appropriately trained, so Chef Tiffany shows him the correct way to make chicken wings and a quesadilla.
With a little bit of training under their belts, it’s time for the stress test…
The bar is packed as soon as the test begins.
The owners are helping out where needed, but Anthony is making mistakes at the bar.
The wait time for food has jumped up to thirty minutes.
Scott disappears during the stress test, and the night is a disaster.
After the stress test, Jon Taffer gives the staff feedback.
Jon thinks Rocky Point Cantina needs to hire a new manager, but he needs Scott to agree.
The next day Jon meets with Fran and Mary and brings Steve Lynch with him.
Steve is a manager from another bar in the area.
Scott decides to give Anthony another chance to work at the bar despite making mistakes.
New employees are hired to work behind the bar and in the kitchen.
Scott and Steve will work together so Scott can learn how to manage the bar.
Chef Tiffany trains the kitchen staff on the new Mexican theme menu. Russell teaches the bartender university-themed drinks.
As part of rescuing and renovating the bar, Jon Taffer and his crew renamed it from Rocky Point Cantina to Havana Cabana Bar and Grill.
Jon has hired a social media management team, Constant Contact, for the bar’s social media. Yay – product placement!
The relaunch starts, and the kitchen has difficulty keeping up with orders.
Anthony is having a hard time and leaves. The bar can work better without him.
So was the Havana Cabana Bar Rescue episode a success? Keep reading to find out. Spoiler alert – there’s a lot of drama with this one!
Havana Cabana Bar and Grill Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Havana Cabana Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about what happened to the bar after Jon Taffer and his crew left Tempe, AZ.
At the standard six-week check-in with the Bar Rescue producers, it seems like things were going great for the bar, as Havana Cabana was supposedly bringing in $6,000 per night.
However, this is pretty misleading as there was a lot of turmoil going on.
First off, the bar didn’t keep the Havana Cabana name. It quickly reverted back to the original Rocky Point Cantina name almost as soon as Jon Taffer left.
Beyond that, there were a ton of issues with what happened, which led to the bar’s closure not too long after the Rocky Point Cantina Bar Rescue episode.
Is Havana Cabana from Bar Rescue still open?
Havana Cabana closed in August 2013, which was two months before the Havana Cabana Bar Rescue episode even aired on TV.
At that time, it was doing business under the original Rocky Point Cantina name.
More specifically, Rocky Point Cantina declared bankruptcy two months after Taffer left.
Unfortunately, it seems like this one never really got off the ground.
There was a lot of drama with this rescue, as well. A lot of people were unhappy with the changes and there were also issues with permits with the local government.
It seems like the Tempe government had been looking for an excuse to shut down Rocky Point Cantina, which Bar Rescue gave to them.
Let’s talk about the permits, first…
Apparently, the Bar Rescue team did not obtain the proper permits that it needed to make changes to Rocky Point Cantina, such as painting the exterior of the bar.
This issue led the Tempe government to inspect Rocky Point Cantina more closely, where they found lots of other unpermitted changes.
Allegedly, the Bar Rescue producers told Rocky Point Cantina that they had obtained the construction permits, even though they didn’t.
Here’s an excerpt from a document about it:
the owner was advised by the producer that all permits for work would be taken care of prior to the bar rehabilitation, and was unaware that the exterior modification was done without authorization.
Beyond that, it also seems like the bar did not have the proper permits for live music entertainment because of the name change.
When changing the name from Rocky Point Cantina to Havana Cabana, that seems to have invalidated any existing live entertainment permits that it had.
After the changes, Havana Cabana’s request for its own live entertainment permit was designed, which means that the bar could no longer host bands.
As a result, all of the upcoming metal concerts had to be canceled.
The Phoenix New Times has a great article digging into all of these issues if you want to learn more.
Because the bar was faced with needing to spend hundreds of thousands on repairing the building to get it in line with the code, Francis Massimiano had to declare bankruptcy for the bar.
Not all of these code issues were Bar Rescue’s fault, as many of them were the result of unpermitted construction that happened before the Rocky Point Cantina Bar Rescue episode.
What happened to the Rocky Point Cantina owners?
Scott Massimiano won a poker event at The Venetian, so he seems to be a solid poker player.
I can’t find any information on what happened to the others.
What happened to the Rocky Point Cantina Tempe, AZ building?
As of 2022, the old Havana Cabana Tempe, AZ location is occupied by a brand new mixed use development.
The old colorful Rocky Point Cantina building was demolished and replaced by a boring new development that has apartments on the upper levels and shops on the lower levels.
In total, the building has 50 apartment units.
The new complex is named Valor on Eight and you can find the website here.
Development for the building was approved in August 2016.
At least 51% of the building’s apartments are supposed to go low-income families, with preference given to veterans.
Construction started in September 2016 and was slated to be finished by December 2017.
Some of the shops include Elite Medical Beauty and Wize Tax Services.
Here’s a shot of the building from Google Maps street view:
All that that to say, the Rocky Point Cantina building is permanently gone from Tempe, AZ.
If you want to see some other Arizona Bar Rescue episodes, check out these posts:
- Gallopin’ Goose update
- George and Dragon update
- Frozen Cactus / RJ’s Replay update
- Chilleen’s on 17 update
- Brick and Barley / Baseline Sports Bar update
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Last updated: 2022-05-01 08:24