Havana Cabana Bar Rescue Update (Rocky Point Cantina) – Still Open?

Is Havana Cabana Bar and Grill still open today?

Status: >> CLOSED <<
(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

Havana Cabana Bar Rescue Update (Rocky Point Cantina)

Episode Recap

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.

Rocky Point Cantina owners

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.

Rocky Point Cantina cleaning

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 – eventually sprinting away.

Bartender running away

Thankfully, the bar can work better without him. 

So was the Havana Cabana Bar Rescue episode a success? Keep reading to find out what happened next and if it’s still open today.

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 Rocky Point Cantina 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 2023, 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:

The old Rocky Point Cantina Tempe, AZ building

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:

And if you want to share your thoughts on the Havana Cabana episode, you can do so using the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

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Last updated: 2024-03-09 05:27

13 thoughts on “Havana Cabana Bar Rescue Update (Rocky Point Cantina) – Still Open?”

All comments are the sole opinion of the commenter and are not endorsed by RealityTVUpdates.

  1. Do you think the show is aware that some of the bars are lost due to problems with the local government due to lack of permits for modification? What a waste! Don’t know how effective they could be but it would be nice to hear that the show tries to intervene

    • Yeah it’s sad. The schedule is so compressed that if anyone messes up (e.g. a producer doesn’t get the proper permits) there’s no time to fix anything.

    • I don’t blame Bar Rescue for the Bar’s failure, I blame the owners, Scott’s parents. Scott was clearly a horrible manager and needed to be replaced.

      Permits? Who cares. The place was a disaster before BR got there.

  2. Kind of seems the city took a permit over painting as an excuse to hassle the owners over the bar’s past. I don’t hold the show at fault for it. Scott is because he jumped in and told his parents he wanted to play manager. He ruined that place’s reputation, he did all those sketchy building changes.

    Had the city came in, did their investigation and found that a permit over painting was all they’d have simply been fined and allowed to continue on as a bar without the live music till they finished filing a new permit for that.

    I really hope his parents were able to recover from what he did because he ruined that whole thing for them.

  3. It’s difficult for me to imagine that the show allows construction to begin without the proper permits to be in place. They should get the next shows permits while they’re doing the current show. That should all be resolved before the bar is rescued. All contractors know about city permits. They should be held liable also. The permits are all normally displayed on the wall inside or outside the site as construction begins. Each phase needs to be approved as work continues. The owners and Bar Rescue, in my opinion, deliberately ignored the procedures to get the show in the books and pay the fines later. The bar name was changed back to the original to appease the city. The bar staff in my opinion, was not trained adequately enough and went back to their old ways which was the cause for the bar to fail. They were constantly fighting amongst themselves! And the city inspectors love to get in an owners face. It justifies their existence. They are all to blame!

  4. Parents need to stop funding businesses for their children. If they can’t or won’t start a business on their own, parents should say no. Parents keep throwing good money after bad trying to bail their kids out of a mess that could have been avoided by just saying no.

    Scott was more concerned about being the manager, but not acting like one. His ego was like glass and his parents owed ONE AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS.

    People who understand business understand that working with friends is a no-no. Friends especially ones like Anthony are a huge liability.

  5. There’s no other area people will throw hundreds of thousands of dollars on the bonfire like bars and restaurants. If that stove burner burns u, don’t touch it. The next hundred thousand, and the one after that, and the one after that, ain’t gonna fix lazy, clueless and uncommitted. There are plenty of books, videos, seminars for learning to how to take pride in your craft and work smart. There are zero excuses for 97% of these where. Alcoholism is a common theme. If someone isn’t blitzed drunk half he time, it’s amazing the filth and incompetence that rules these shows. I know.
    It’s a reality show, total grain of salt. Howver I doubt Taffer plants all that grease, grime, and poor sanitation. Let me tell you, I grew up working in restaurants & it’s why I choose very carefully. I watched cooks take a dump and walk out of
    The bathroom DAILY. Chains are the worst, you people
    Have no clue the real danger of eating out, and hence my often harsh critiques and vehement disagreement w commenters that totally downplay the illness danger these places put you in. Ok, rant transmission complete, drive through

  6. Where are the health inspectors for these places? I know there are not enough inspectors to go around but some of these places have been DISGUSTINGLY filthy for years!! They must be inspected at least yearly no??

    • Health inspections are inadequate in a lot of places. Plus, they usually tell the restaurant/bar when they’re doing the inspection, which gives the bar a chance to change its behavior for the inspection. It definitely needs to be better.

  7. I’ll never understand why these owners will put all of their savings, retirement, and mortgages just for one bar. Its the most financially illogical thing you can do. If you have 1.5 million in retirement, I don’t see why you would use over 3 to 500 grand on the bar.


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