Latitudes Bar Rescue Update (Island Bar) – Still Open Today?

Is Latitudes Island Bar still open today?

Status: >> OPEN <<
(keep reading to learn what happened)

Season: 8 | View All Season 8 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: June 11, 2023
The Bar's Original Name Was: Latitudes Bar and Grill
Latitudes Island Bar Address: 2495 S North Carolina 16 Hwy, Denver, NC 28037

Latitudes Bar Rescue episode

Episode Recap

Latitudes Bar and Grill, later renamed to Latitudes Island Bar, was a Denver, North Carolina bar that was featured on the third set of Season 8 of Bar Rescue.

Though the Latitudes Bar Rescue episode aired in June 2023, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place a little under a year earlier around August 2022.

It was Season 8 Episode 37 and the episode name was “How The Cookie Crumbles”.

In this episode, Jon Taffer heads to Denver…

..but not Denver, Colorado, as he’s done so many times before.

Instead, Jon Taffer is going to Denver North Carolina to rescue Latitudes Bar and Grill.

Latitudes Bar and Grill is owned by Patti and Steve Merkel, a husband and wife duo (and also a business partner duo).

Patti Merkel Latitudes bar owner on Bar Rescue

Patti Merkel has a lot of experience in the restaurant industry.

Steve Merkel ran a cookie business with his brother that he sold to a larger company.

This sale gave Steve the opportunity to retire early.

It also gave him the seed funding needed to launch the Latitudes bar.

In fact, Steve’s cookie business is where the episode name comes from – “How the Cookie Crumbles”.

After hearing this, I was really curious what the cookie business was and whether or not I’ve heard of it.

Here are the details:

The cookie business that Steve ran with his brother (Dave Merkel) was doing business as Chippery, though the official name was Van-Merkel, Inc.

It was acquired by Otis Spunkmeyer back in 2005, so quite a long time before Jon Taffer visited the bar.

Chippery was based in Austin TX and specialized in “frozen cookie dough and thaw-and-serve cookies”.

At the time that it was acquired, Chippy was doing over $34.5 million in revenue, so it’s likely that the acquisition was for many millions.

I’m not sure how much of that Steve would get, but I imagine he did pretty well.

The couple had originally opened a cafe/restaurant at the property named Sweet Destinations: A Travel Cafe (Yelp page here).

I believe they opened Sweet Destinations some time around 2015.

Steve Merkel Latitudes bar owner on Bar Rescue

However, they renovated and rebranded that location into Latitudes Bar and Grill in 2019, which is the concept that you saw on the Bar Rescue Latitudes episode.

Obviously, that was right before Covid-19 caused issues, so that’s a tough time to relaunch a bar.

While running a restaurant/bar was Patti’s dream, Steve wanted to be more hands-off with the business.

Unfortunately, it’s tough to do that effectively, which is why Patti is working seven days a week trying to keep the bar afloat.

To try to lighten the load, the couple brought in their son Travis to manage the bar.

Travel Latitudes bar manager on Bar Rescue

Sadly, Travis and Patti find themselves butting heads a lot about running the bar, which obviously isn’t great for the family dynamics.

Patti seems to be a bit of a control freak, which doesn’t match with their goal of eventually turning the business over to Travis to run.

Obviously, since the bar is appearing on Bar Rescue, there are also financial issues in play.

Steve has invested over $275,000 into Latitudes.

While that’s not the most I’ve seen on the show, it’s still a hefty chunk of money.

But that money isn’t generating any return on investment.

At the time of the Latitudes Bar and Grill Bar Rescue episode, the bar is supposedly losing around $3,500 every month.

Steve basically gave them an ultimatum – start making money or he’s going to cut them off.

That seems fair enough to me, right?

The latitudes owners on Bar Rescue

However, Patti doesn’t like this and she’s not willing to accept the bar failing.

To try to fix things, Steve and Patti called in the big guy – Mr. Taffer himself.

When renovating the bar, Jon Taffer kept the main Latitudes name.

However, he changed the concept and slightly tweaked the name from Latitudes Bar and Grill to Latitudes Island Bar and Grill.

Obviously, in addition to adding “Island” to the name, Jon Taffer also put an island theme into the bar, in both the aesthetics and menu options.

Jon Taffer also improved the outdoor seating area, including adding more tables, a fire pit, a corn hole board, and some other tweaks.

So was the Latitudes Bar Rescue visit a long-term success?

Keep reading to learn what happened next and if this Denver, NC bar is still open in 2024.

Latitudes Island Bar Update - What Happened Next?

Now that we’ve recapped the Latitudes Island Bar Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about what happened to the bar after Jon Taffer and his crew left Denver, North Carolina.

First, let’s talk about the Merkels’ experience on Bar Rescue.

In general, they seem to be very happy with Jon Taffer’s visit.

While they do seem to just refer to the bar as “Latitudes” a lot, they have still kept the island concept as far as I can tell, including the special “island drinks” from the show.

For example, while the Facebook page is still just “Latitudes Bar and Grill”, they still refer to it as Latitudes Island Bar in the actual Facebook posts.

In an interview with a local publication, Patti Merkel had the following to say about the show:

We’re very happy with all the changes that are in place.

We’re doing really great now.

That definitely seems like Patti was appreciative of the help from Jon Taffer.

Here are some other quotes that I thought were interesting…

About being on the show:

I’ve never done anything like this in my life.

Normally when I watch the show, I sit there and yell at the TV during the episodes.

About being the finale episode:

When the producers told me I’m going to be the finale, I thought to myself:

Either we’re that bad or they saved the best for last

In addition to Patti’s interview with the local news, the bar also posted about the episode a lot on its Facebook page.

For example, they posted a bunch of countdowns and also shared all of the promo videos.

They also hosted a reservation-only watch party of the episode.

Latitudes Bar Rescue watch party

Patti also posted about the episode on her personal Facebook page.

Put all of that together, and it seems like they really embraced the Bar Rescue experience and Jon Taffer’s changes, which makes it a good finale episode.

Now, let’s talk about the most important question on your mind…

Is Latitudes Island Bar still open after Bar Rescue?

As of my most recent check, Latitudes Island Bar and Grill is still open and serving customers in Denver, North Carolina.

Reviews for Latitudes Island Bar generally seem to be pretty good, as it has a 4 star rating on Yelp and a 4.2 star rating on Google.

Latitudes Island Bar is very active on social media – both its Facebook page and its Instagram page.

They seem to have a bunch of food specials and events.

For example, shortly before the episode aired on TV, the bar hosted an 80s night:

Latitudes 80s night Denver NC

There’s also an official Latitudes Island Bar Denver NC website, which includes the menu and some information about the bar.

Here’s a screenshot of part of the Latitudes Island Bar menu to give you an idea of what’s on offer, along with the prices at the bar.

Latitudes Island Bar menu Denver NC

Here’s what the Latitudes Denver NC location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view…

The picture is from September 2022, so it does include the new sign/concept.

However, the sign doesn’t look good in the screenshot for some reason – I hope it looks better in person!

Next, let’s take a look at some Latitudes Denver NC reviews…

Latitudes Island Bar reviews after Bar Rescue

As I mentioned above, the Latitudes Island Bar reviews are generally pretty good.

Overall, it has a 4 star rating on Yelp and a 4.2 star rating on Google, which includes reviews from both before and after the Bar Rescue Latitudes Island Bar episode.

In general, reviews from after the episode are a bit mixed, but I would say are generally positive.

In terms of service, I see both positive and negative reviews, so it seems like it might be a bit inconsistent.

Here’s a sampling of a few positive and negative reviews that were written after the Latitudes Island Bar Jon Taffer visit…

4 star Yelp review from May 2023:

Improved since our last visit.

Food was good, not exceptional.

I had the Reuben and fries which was good.

Friendly service and nice drink selection available.

5 star Yelp review from May 2023:

Stopped in for a late lunch.

The food and service were outstanding.

I had their mushroom swiss burger.

Hands down one of the best burgers I’ve had.

It was nicely seasoned, juicy, large, and very flavorful.

My girl had the smoked pork sandwich and that was equally tasty and filling.

We would highly recommend this establishment.

4 star Google review from March 2023:

Good food with a nice atmosphere.

The waitress and host were friendly and attentive.

They even went as far to make sure we had a fresh cookie at the end of dinner.

Will be going back soon.

5 star Google review from December 2022:

If your food takes a little longer, relax and talk to your friends/family.

It’s worth waiting for.

Been here twice and had fine experiences.

Our server last night was terrific!

The food is fresh, not frozen so it takes a bit longer.

My Reuben was awesome.

So big I shared it with my friend.

Delicious, no fat at all on meat.

It’s a difficult business, people need to ease up a bit.

If something is wrong, I’m sure they would try to make it right…

2 star Yelp review from February 2023:

This place was better prior to their remodel.

They don’t have enough help.

Food service is slow and wait service is very slow.

I don’t know if they can’t afford to hire more wait staff, can’t get more wait staff, don’t know how to train the wait staff they have or if they just don’t care.

They have one And by the way I’ve only been during lunch so I don’t know what it’s like at night.

We hadn’t been in a few months because of the service but decided to try again 2/24/23 and it wasn’t any better.

I’ve been a sever before and have high expectations.

You should not have to sit and wait for condiments while your food gets cold.

Bring them before the food!!

Anyway, i don’t recommend.

The food isn’t worth the frustration.

1 star Google review from June 2023:

We were forgotten outside.

We watched one other person outside and others inside who arrived after us order, eat, and leave before us.

It was blamed on being slammed, but the inside looked half full at best.

Left cash for drinks and app, and won’t be coming back.

Final thoughts on Latitudes Island Bar

Overall, Patti and Steve seem to have really embraced the changes and concept from Jon Taffer, which is great to see.

While the reviews are still a bit mixed, I would say that they’re more positive than negative.

Patti also told a local news publication that the business is going well.

Put all of that together and I wouldn’t be surprised if this one can stay open for a good bit.

I wish them the best and I hope they can make it a long-term success!

That wraps up my Latitudes Bar Rescue update.

If you want to see some other North Carolina Bar Rescue episodes, you can check out my updates for Rio Ultra Lounge / 360 Lounge Reloaded in Charlotte, The Gateway Pub / Corner Pocket II in Hickory, Cashmere / Dual Ultra Nightclub in Raleigh22 Klicks / Cliques in Hope Mills, and MoonRunners Saloon / Characters Quarters in Garner

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

Thanks for reading!

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Last updated: 2024-03-09 08:18

19 thoughts on “Latitudes Bar Rescue Update (Island Bar) – Still Open Today?”

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

  1. Rumor has it Steve sold his cookie company to Otis Spunkmeyer. Also that his.wife is a little unstable at best.

  2. Steve was not involved at all in developing the cookie recipes, he only did sales. Also, he was bought out of the partnership a year prior to Otis Spunkmeyer purchasing The Chippery.

  3. “Thank you for joining us on #BarRescue Sundays. We will be taking a break but more coming soon.”From Twitter.

    Not the series finale. Just season finale.

    • Yeah Jon has already confirmed he’ll be rescuing more bars. Not sure if that will be Season 9 or another set of Season 8 episodes.

    • Yep, according to this:

      Taffer has a “multi-year vision” for the future of the show.

      Sometimes the seasons seem to go on forever in multiple blocks. I assume that this is because the network wants to keep the same terms (contract payments, etc.) rather than negotiate a new deal. This was true for other Paramount family/MTV reality shows such as Catfish and the Teen Mom franchise over the years. He has been quoted as saying that season 7 was truncated because of COVID, and time ran out on their ability to shoot more episodes within that season.

      The seasons are probably set by a number of episodes and not timing. Season 5 started in 2016 the week after season 4 ended, and season 4 started with an episode that had a production code that began with a 3.

      In March, he used the term “new season” on Twitter:

      IMO, it’s equally likely that it will be more season 8 episodes. “Season” is used very loosely. At least one post I read stated that this set was a new season when it began, but it wasn’t. It certainly feels like a new season when so much time goes by.

      What is true is that these have been much more spaced out than pre-pandemic. The 2022 set aired March-June and this one in 2023 February-June. It used to be true before the pandemic that the episodes could air within only a few weeks of shooting, so the delay is not due to production time. The lag for the airing of this episode was probably close to a year.

      I think that the episodes are feeling more routine, less based on bar science, and more predictable (save for the Idaho walkout where nobody at the bar knew how the show worked). I’m not sure if the ratings are slipping, but it’s worth noting that Bar Rescue makes up an insane amount of Paramount Network’s daytime programming through reruns since their Movie Network concept never took off.

  4. Mia is clearly the frontrunner for best expert now that LisaMarie is long gone. I so miss LisaMarie…

    The ZipRecruiter crap was so cheesy. Surely Jon makes enough money now that this isn’t necessary.

    I liked how they set the one bartender up to look lazy–they praised the one who stayed, but the one who walked out had extra content before the stress test where she basically states they are going to fail. I’ve never seen them run footage like that before.

    • Agreed about the Zip Recruiter thing. Bar Rescue has always been heavy on the product placement but that was just overkill.

    • It seemed too convenient that there’s a Zip Recruiter promo at the beginning of the episode, a bar tender with a bad attitude who created drama walked out during stress test, and new staff were found using Zip Recruiter were introduced during the reveal.

    • The one bartender who walked out is still there but the one who stayed and passed the stress test left soon after the show was filmed. I’ve been there a few times and a lot of the staff that was on the show is no longer there lol

  5. I agree with the comment about the sign – you can barely read it from the parking lot! While they may have restrictions from the landlord this is an oversight! Wishing them well and hope they can find more good help sooner than later. Good luck and keep up the good work!

  6. Watch party? “Come join us as we are exposed as lazy and dangerous, black mold cocktails and heinous fried foods. But hey, it’s America so as long as we’re on TV were stars right?”

  7. Wow, that Amber had a piss-poor attitude. No creative editing there, just watch her and listen to her words. She was so nasty. If the one comment above was true and she is still there, no wonder why some reviewers are complaining about poor service. They probably had her as their bartender or waitress!

    And regarding their sign: even when watching the show I said to myself “you can barely read that thing” — Big Taffer is always stressing the importance of being able to read signs from the street, yet he gets a big white sign with light yellow and small cyan lettering on it. Duh.

    At least they are doing well thanks to the show’s changes. No thanks to Amber!

  8. All I remember is that raggedy haired Amber. Granted, Mia M. is a conceited know it all, but she knows loads more than pissy attitude Amber.


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