(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 7 | View All Season 7 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: May 17, 2020
The Bar's Original Name Was: Pepe's Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
Par Bar Address: 31780 Railroad Canyon Rd Canyon Lake, CA 92587
Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, later renamed to Par Bar, was a Canyon Lake, California bar that was featured on Season 7 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Par Bar Bar Rescue episode aired in May 2020, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place a few months earlier.
It was Season 7 Episode 11 and the episode name was “In the Rough”.
In this episode, Jon Taffer visits Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in Canyon Lake, CA.
Canyon Lake is a gated community in the Inland Empire.
It’s a rich community with lots of golfers, which will be an important detail for the Pepe’s Bar Rescue changes.
Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina has long been a fixture in the community, being more than 50 years old.
The bar is currently owned by a husband and wife duo, Victor and Laura Demoreno.
When the Demonero’s bought the bar, they thought the bar would continue its success, but customers stopped visiting.
The level of service has also declined as the kitchen microwaves most of its food.
Overall, it’s quickly gone downhill from its glory days and is now losing $6,000 per month.
To make matters worse, the Demorenos have more than $2 million in debt as a result of the bar.
Victor and Laura spend all of their time in the locked office and watch the bar from their sixteen security cameras.
The bar is described as a dungeon by employees who suffer from stress-related health issues.
Mixologist Alex Goode and Chef Jason Santos join Jon Taffer to help save the bar.
The experts and Jon notice that the bar is in an area filled with golf courses.
The camera footage shows Christmas lights behind the bar, but the bar has no decorations.
Victor, a manager; Devon, a server; and Shawnda and Jessica, bartenders, are shown on the camera.
As seems to be the norm, the Pepe’s owners are in the office.
A group of golfers joins Jon Taffer to evaluate the bar’s service.
Customers in the bar complain to Jon that they have received the wrong drinks, and the kitchen served food frozen in the middle.
The owners are in the back office watching the chaos on their cameras.
Jon tasks the owners with coming into the bar, and at first, they are hesitant because they do not want to meet with the unhappy customers.
As they enter the bar, the owners are booed, and patrons tell them they won’t be back.
The employees, Victor and Lauren, stay at Pepe’s to clean.
The staff is introduced to Jon, but Devon, the manager, says she is more of a glorified waitress.
The employees are not paid on time, which Victor says is within the parameters of the law.
The experts train the bartenders and cooks while Jon meets Victor and Laura.
Jon wants to know the owners’ goals since they do not seem interested in running the bar.
While Jon is getting to know the owners, the experts are prepping the staff for the stress test.
Chef Jason trains the cooks on crispy chicken tenders and reminds them never to use the microwave.
Alex shows the bartenders how to pour correctly.
Laura will work in the dining room for the stress test, and Victor will run the kitchen.
Victor doesn’t do much until Jason makes him run food from the kitchen.
One side of the bar hasn’t been given their drinks, and the customers start chanting.
Jon Taffer has seen enough and ends the stress test.
The owners are admonished for their poor performance during the trial.
The following day the owners apologized to the staff for their behavior since they purchased the bar.
Training continues, and Alex trains the bartenders on drinks geared towards couples.
To help fix the bar, Jon Taffer and his crew renovated it and gave it a new golf-focused theme.
As part of that, they changed the name from Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina to Par Bar.
The new bar has lots of golf decor and really plays up the golf theme.
A draft beer system was gifted to the bar and will serve ice-cold beer.
The bar also received new furniture and a POS system.
Customers enter and are impressed by the contemporary furnishings and decor in the bar.
The food and drinks are coming out quickly and are tasty.
So was the Pepe’s Bar Rescue visit a success?
Let’s talk move onto the update portion of the post and talk about whether it’s still open in 2024.
Par Bar Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Par Bar Bar Rescue visit, let’s talk about what happened after Jon Taffer and his crew left Canyon Lake, CA.
First, let’s talk about the name. The bar did not remain named Par Bar for long as they quickly ditched the name.
They also got rid of the golf theme that Jon Taffer implemented, including all of the golf decor.
However, instead of going back to the Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant name, they changed it to Del Lago Bar at Pepe’s.
Del Lago stands for The Lake.
That went about as well as you’d expect…
Is Par Bar from Bar Rescue still open?
As of 2023, Par Bar is still open but doing business under the original Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina name.
What’s more, the bar also has new ownership, so it’s not the same owners that you saw on the Bar Rescue episode.
Victor and Laura Demoreno decided to sell the business in October 2020 so that they could focus on their five other businesses.
The new Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant owners are also a husband and wife duo who live in Canyon Lake. Their names are Erin and Ed Ryder.
As part of purchasing the bar, they changed it back to the original Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina name, ditching both the Par Bar name from Bar Rescue and the new Del Lago Bar at Pepe’s name from the Demorenos.
They also remodeled it again after the changes from Bar Rescue and the Demorenos and then reopened it in February 2021.
Here’s an explanation for why Erin and Ed bought the bar:
We want to retire here and live the rest of our lives in Canyon Lake.
We have always wanted to own a restaurant close to home, so we chose Pepe’s.
We have always loved Pepe’s.
We used to play in a pool league at Pepe’s back in the day.
However, the new owners also seem to be drawing a distinction between the old bar that you saw on Bar Rescue and the new Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina bar:
Pepe’s is a whole new restaurant.
It’s brand new.
Everything is different now.
The restaurant we were all familiar with pre-COVID-19 is now completely different.
It might be hard for others to see how everything has changed and they’re no longer coming back to the old Pepe’s.
We have worked with the community to see what they like and are listening to them as to how to move forward.
Here’s what the Pepe’s / Par Bar Canyon Lake CA location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view:
Recent reviews for Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina under the new ownership seem mixed.
Here’s a sampling of reviews that have happened with the new owners.
Five star Yelp review from April 2022:
They redid the place and it looks great!
I’ve always liked their food and the bar is awesome too!
Two star Yelp review from April 2022:
Customer service was good.
Was greeted as we arrived and waitress was attentive.
However, the food tasted like it was out of a can.
This is not good Mexican food.
Definitely not fresh food or homemade.
I was very disappointed and unsatisfied.
One star Yelp review from Feb 2022:
Service was terrible, brought out cokes with no syrup, forgot kids meals and when told so they still forgot it.
The bathrooms had crap splattered all over the toilets.
The place was basically empty so shouldn’t have been such a bad experience.
Overall, I’m still marking this one as open because there is a Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina operating at the same location.
However, it’s under new ownership after the Bar Rescue episode and ditched Jon Taffer’s Par Bar branding, so I almost marked it as closed.
If you think it makes more sense to mark this one as closed, please let me know in the comments!
Either way, the only connection between this bar and the Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant that Jon Taffer visited is the name and location.
The decor and owners are both new after it was rebranded and sold (and then changed back to the original name).
If you want to see some other nearby California Bar Rescue episodes, you can check out my updates for Derby’s / The Wheel House in Hemet, Power Plant / Rocks in Laguna Niguel, and Rack’s Billiards / Angel’s Sports Bar in Corona.
Or, you can read my full list of all the Bar Rescue episodes in California, which is the most popular state on the show by far.
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-04-03 05:32