(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 3 | View All Season 3 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: March 24, 2013
The Bar's Original Name Was: Lona's Wardlow Station
Lona's City Limits Cantina Address: 1174 E Wardlow Rd Long Beach, CA 90807
Lona’s Wardlow Station, later renamed to Lona’s City Limits Cantina, was a Long Beach, California bar that was featured on Season 3 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Lonas Bar Rescue episode aired in March 2013, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place before that.
It was Season 3 Episode 7 and the episode name was “In a Pinch”.
Lona’s Wardlow Station is located in Long Beach, CA, which has been the site of several Bar Rescue episodes.
The bar is located on Wardlow Street, which is part of where the name comes from.
The bar is owned by Lona Lee, which is where the other part of the bar’s name comes from.
She purchased the neighborhood blue-collar bar in 1998 after a career of bartending.
Within the initial three years, Lona paid off her loans because of all the success.
Soon her lack of experience showed, and she allowed her bartenders to do whatever they wanted.
To try and increase revenue, Lona has put a lobster game machine in the bar.
Given that the Lona’s Bar Rescue episode exists, you can probably guess that the lobster was not enough to save the bar.
The bar has sixty days left before they shut down for good, which would cause Lona to lose her $250,000 investment.
To help rescue Lona’s Wardlow Station, Chef Jason Febres joins Jon Taffer to get the kitchen on track.
Beyond that, mixologist of the year Russell Davis joins Jon to take care of the bar.
Jon recruits Russell to spy on Lona’s Wardlow Station and get the inside scoop.
When Russell enters the bar, he orders a beer that is served warm, so he asks for a margarita instead.
He says the bartenders didn’t make the drink correctly.
Russell then tries to win a lobster from the claw game machine.
The cook puts Russel’s lobster into non-boiling water in the kitchen, which will not cook the lobster properly.
Jon Taffer has seen enough at this point and enters the bar.
He sends his experts to the bar and kitchen to inspect.
Lona meets with Jon, who tells her the claw machine is not suitable for the lobsters and is not making her money.
What’s more, the lobster claw machine also caused a lot of issues with animal rights activists, who were protesting the bar.
He tells her to get rid of the tank and clean the bar.
Jon returns the next day and compliments Lona for cleaning the bar and throwing out the lobster tank.
Bill, the bar manager, left last night and didn’t stay with Lona and the staff to clean.
He is forced to apologize by Jon, but he is hesitant to do so.
A report is read to the staff members that said there was over $500 worth of liquor given away last Sunday because of free drinks or overpouring.
Obviously, that’s a big part of why the bar isn’t doing well.
The bar can’t lose that much money unless someone is stealing.
Lona thinks overpouring is the cause of the lost money.
Bill is found to be the one who worked at the bar last Sunday, which obviously causes some trust issues.
Now, it’s time for the experts to start prepping the Lona’s Wardlow Station staff for the stress test.
In the kitchen, the cooks are taught how to make enchiladas.
Instead of canned beef, he uses fresh ingredients.
Jon tells Lona to take charge during the stress test.
Bill will manage the bar, and Ally will cook in the kitchen.
Coach, a bartender, is pouring cans of beer during the stress test to avoid making cocktails.
He is taken out from behind the bar.
Mikey is confident at the bar and consistently makes good drinks.
The wait time for food is getting long, and Ally and Lona are overwhelmed in the kitchen.
After a glass breaks in the ice cooler, Jon Taffer shuts down the stress test.
Obviously, that’s a huge safety risk as people might accidentally get glass in their drinks instead of ice.
Based on the results of the stress test and other issues, Jon fires Bill and makes Mikey the new manager.
Russell and the bartenders make new signature drinks.
Chef Jason teaches Ally, and a new hire in the kitchen new reciepes.
While all of that is happening, Jon Taffer and his crew have been working hard at renovating the bar.
As part of the changes, Jon has renamed the bar from Lona’s Wardlow Station to Lona’s City Limits Cantina.
Everyone loves the new bar.
There is a new draft beer system.
The customers leave happy with their food and drinks.
They are also impressed by the decor.
On relaunch night, the food does take a little too long to get out to customers.
But overall, the relaunch was a success and things seem to be looking up for Lona’s City Limits Cantina.
So – was the Lonas Bar Rescue episode a success? Keep reading our update to learn what happened next and how the bar is doing in 2023.
Lona's City Limits Cantina Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Lonas Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about what happened to the bar after Jon Taffer and his crew left Long Beach, CA.
Things seemed to start off well for the bar.
At the normal six-week check-in with the Bar Rescue producers, we learned that drink sales were up by 35% and food sales were up by 25%.
What’s more, the lobster tank is officially gone from the bar.
Those boosts seemed to have carried on as the bar is still doing fairly well.
Is Lona’s City Limits Cantina from Bar Rescue still open?
As of 2023, Lona’s City Limits Cantina is still open and serving customers in Long Beach, CA.
This means it’s survived for almost a decade after the visit from Jon Taffer, which is pretty impressive for a bar from the show.
The bar isn’t especially active on social media but it does post semi-regular updates.
Here’s what the Lonas Long Beach location looks like in the most recent Google Maps street view update:
Reviews are good but not great – it has a 4.5 star rating on Google Reviews but a 3.5 star rating on Yelp.
Here’s a sampling of a couple of reviews that were written after the visit from Jon Taffer…
5 star review from May 2015:
I heard about this place from Bar rescue.
I was kinda disappointed that they took out the lobster machine.
Great experience, great staff and cold drinks.
I also enjoyed playing their arcade golf.
1 star review from May 2015:
Just forget it!
My wife and I visited this place after seeing it on Bar Rescue…highly disappointed.
If you’re not a local (which I AM a local),then be prepared to be ignored by the staff.
Service was horrible!
We love a good dive bar, but there are way too many in Long Beach to have to deal with this place.
4 star review from April 2022:
This place was featured in Bar Rescue but I havent seen the episode.
I went before and after the renovations and it doesnt appear to have changed too much.
This is definitely a dive bar , and the owner Lona is active in chatting with the clients as well as running the place.
This time I actually took another friend here.
I believe I asked for the wrong drink but oh my god that drink was a heavy heavy pour!
Instead of cucumber I ordered cactus and it was delicious.
We got a drink and a shot and by the third round we were done.
Also met a friendly local at the bar and she brought us shots.
Did not taste the food.
The jukebox had some blasting tunes.
There was also a makeshift dance floor and pool tables so people were all enjoying themselves.
Park on the street or in the neighborhood.
There are a number of dive bars on this street.
No to limited parking on site
1 star Yelp review from January 2016:
I Love Bar Rescue so my husband and I thought lets try Lona’s.
Big mistake we walked in had to seat ourselves and for 10 minutes no one ever greeted us people we obviously locals and not very friendly.
So we left and were never acknowledged.
However, the bar has had some issues with safety and the local government.
Let’s talk about them…
Lona’s City Limits issues with police calls
In 2021, Lona’s City Limits Cantina had its liquor license suspended by the California government for 30 days.
The suspension occurred because of “numerous calls to police about the bar”.
While the initial suspension was only 30 days, it could’ve lost the license for three years (or had it completely revoked) if it didn’t comply.
It’s more than just noise, though.
There were a lot of fights at the premise, including a shooting in 2019.
In that 2019 shooting, a shooter opened fire at a crowd inside the bar.
Thankfully, only one person was wounded and no one died.
This shooting played a role in the bar’s liquor license suspension, though.
Despite that, Lona’s City Limits Cantina is still open, which does make it a Bar Rescue success story, especially since it was originally on the show back in 2013.
If you want to see some other Bar Rescue Long Beach episodes, check out these posts:
- Black Light District update
- Liquid Lounge / Tidal Bay update
- Cirivello’s / Aging Room update
- Brix / Pacific Coast Wine Bar update
All of those bars are in Long Beach (or right by it).
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-03-11 06:49