(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 7 | View All Season 7 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: April 26, 2020
The Bar's Original Name Was: Rob Ben's Restaurant & Lounge
Rob Ben's Restaurant & Lounge Address: 3627 San Pablo Ave Emeryville, CA 94608
Rob Ben’s Restaurant & Lounge was an Emeryville, California bar that was featured on Season 7 of Bar Rescue. The bar is owned by Marshawn Lynch, which gives it a bit of a unique status.
Though the Rob Ben’s / Marshawn Lynch Bar Rescue episode aired in April 2020, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place in late 2019.
It was Season 7 Episode 9 and the episode name was “Beast Rescue”, which is a nod to Marshawn Lynch’s nickname.
Rob Ben’s is owned by NFL superstar and legend Marshawn Lynch.
Note – it’s spelled Rob Ben’s Restaurant and not Rob Bens or Robbens.
The Marshawn Lynch Bar Rescue episode is unique in this fact, as it’s pretty rare to have a famous bar owner.
The bar is located in Emeryville, CA, which is basically in Oakland (though technically the city is located between Berkely and Oakland).
Marshawn Lynch was born in Oakland and also played a couple of years with the Oakland Raiders, so he has close ties to the city.
In 2018, the Marshawn opened the bar to honor his childhood friend, Robert Benjamin, who passed away after being tragically shot in 2007.
Here’s an article from the East Bay Times about the 2007 shooting.
Marshawn’s aunts Kecia and Shawny run the restaurant for him, as he still has to focus on his NFL career.
Side note – he was retired at the time of the Marshawn Lynch Bar Rescue episode after a two-year stint with the Oakland Raiders, but he would later make a return to the NFL in 2019 and play one season for the Seattle Seahawks.
Since the atmosphere of Rob Ben’s was family, Marshawn also hired his cousin Devonte and his brother Dave as bartenders.
Robert Benjamin’s brother, Ralph, is the cook.
Marshawn is very busy and has other business obligations and charities where he devotes his time.
As a result, he left Rob Ben’s in the care of Kecia.
Unfortunately, Kecia doesn’t entrust tasks to the staff and tries to do everything at the bar herself.
Now, Kacie is ill due to the stress of overworking.
Because of this, Kecia is not present at the bar, and no one has stepped up to lead.
Jon Taffer and Marshawn Lynch meet outside the bar, where Marshawn tells Jon how much love he has for the Oakland area and Rob Ben’s.
Aunt Shawny is shown in the footage.
She has worked at the bar since before Marshawn owned it.
His uncle, Cullen, helps out from time to time in the kitchen.
Behind the bar, Donte is drinking. Customers are trying to gain his attention be he ignores them and continues to drink.
When a customer asks for a chicken salad, her order is taken despite the kitchen not having the ingredients to make it.
A few minutes later, the server returns and tells the customer they do not have chicken salad.
Jon Taffer shows Marshawn a Partender report that says the bar loses $16,000 a month in overpouring, which is honestly just a staggering number to me.
Beyond issues with overpouring, the bar’s food costs were also way too high.
Donte begins to curse and rap on the bar and gets up on the bar to sit.
He is rude to customers and continues to use foul language even though a mother and child are eating.
Jon Taffer storms in and yell at Donte about the dirty dishes around the bar.
Jon also confronts Shawny, and he asks why she allows Donte to act that way.
The following day Kecia came to work, but her doctor told her she needed to be on bed rest.
She says she was upset to hear about Donte’s behavior the previous night.
Jon then shows the staff the Partender report that showed how much money Rob Ben’s was losing on alcohol.
Donte swears to Jon he paid for the beer he was drinking the night before, but no one believes him.
Mixologist Alex Goode and Chef Jason Santos train the employees on food and drinks.
Alex thinks the bar staff has potential at the bar, while Jason focuses on plating in the kitchen.
The stress test begins, and right away, customers ask for new drinks because the ones they received are bad.
There is no one running the food from the kitchen to the tables.
Despite that, there were also some positive points.
After the test ends, Jon Taffer compliments the staff.
Jon Taffer sits down with Marshawn Lynch and Kecia and reminds them to support their staff.
He also tells them to discipline them when appropriate as well.
As all of this is happening, Jon Taffer and his team are hard at work on renovating the bar.
When that is finished, the team gathers outside the bar for the reveal.
Because of the sentimental nature of the bar’s name, Jon Taffer did not change the main Rob Ben’s name.
However, he did make a slight tweak – Rob Ben’s is now called Rob Ben’s Neighborhood Soul.
Inside there is a tribute to Marshawn Lynch that highlights his high school and NFL career.
There are two POS systems and a new ice machine.
Jon is gifted with a uniform from the bar as they now consider him part of the team.
The staff works hard during the relaunch, and Jon says this is one of his favorite bar rescues.
So did Jon’s improvements in the Rob Ben’s Bar Rescue visit lead to lasting success? Let’s move onto the next section of our update and talk about whether Rob Ben’s Restaurant is still open in 2023.
Rob Ben's Restaurant & Lounge Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Marshawn Lynch Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about what happened to Rob Ben’s after Jon Taffer and his crew left Emeryville, CA.
In the standard six-week check-in with the Bar Rescue team, we learn that sales at the bar have increased.
Beyond that, the bar is also losing less money to overpouring and other issues.
So if you have more revenue coming in and fewer costs, that’s a pretty good scenario.
Is Rob Ben’s from Bar Rescue still open?
As of 2023, Rob Ben’s Restaurant & Lounge is still open and serving customers in Emeryville, CA.
Reviews for the bar seem pretty good as it has a 4 star rating on Yelp on over 184 reviews.
Here are some recent Rob Ben’s reviews that happened after the Rob Ben’s Bar Rescue visit…
Five star Yelp review:
The food here is amazing.
As my server said the Brussel sprouts are something you need to experience.
The savory Shrimp and grits are unique and special.
My man had an oyster PoBoy which was also amazing. Bloody Mary was the best.
Service was super friendly.
Whoever created and prepared these recipes is a magician. Wowzers!
Five star Yelp review:
Please check this place out, not only for the great food but to say Hi to Auntie Kecia!
Don’t let the # of reviews fool you, this place is straight gas!
The ambiance makes one feel as if they are at Aunties House.
We ordered the 10 wing special with large yams and greens, 10 prawns special with yams and red beans and rice, and smothered turkey wing special with mac and cheese and greens.
You must try the Mac and cheese, yams, greens, chicken wings, prawns, and the drinks!!!
Two star Yelp review:
This was my 3rd time and first visit back to this place since the pandemic.
I came in to get a simple ‘after work’ cocktail.
I always want to patronize black owned businesses, however it is very hard when the service is not up to par.
When I arrived, I sat at the uncrowded bar area and waited for approximately 10 mins for the bartender to acknowledge my existence and offer me service.
Mind you, she chopping up garnishes and not assisting anyone else.
When I finally ordered a martini, it was only half a glass! I asked if she can fill it up to the rim. and she offered me extra juice instead of mixing up a little more of all the ingredients. I drank it an left.
Overall, the bar seems to be really focusing on driving food sales in addition to drinks.
It does still have some “traditional” bar events, too, with comedy shows on Friday nights, dominos tournaments, and more.
Jon Taffer also called Rob Ben’s one of his favorite rescues ever. Here’s a quote from Jon:
Personally, this is one my favorite Bar Rescues ever.
I walked into an uncomfortable situation and I have left with a greater connection to this staff than almost any bar I have ever rescued.
Character is an important part of any community and this bar and these guys have character.
If you want to see what the bar looks like today, I’ve included a Google Maps street view embed of the Rob Ben’s Oakland CA location:
The building looks a little run down and graffiti’d – but those are just the security doors.
It is indeed still open.
What happened to Marshawn Lynch after Bar Rescue?
At the time of the Marshawn Lynch Bar Rescue episode, Marshawn was retired from the NFL after spending the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
However, he did make a brief return to the NFL in 2019, where he spent one season with the Seattle Seahawks.
Since that 2019 season, Marshawn Lynch has remained retired.
He was also featured in a 2019 documentary called Marshawn Lynch: A History.
While Marshawn was known for not talking to the press during his NFL career (which is part of what the documentary explored), he has made a number of cameos on TV.
In addition to the Rob Ben’s Bar Rescue episode, here are some other places he’s popped up:
- Murderville – he appeared as himself on Will Arnett’s Netflix show in 2022.
- Brooklyn 99 – he appeared as himself in a 2017 episode.
- The League – he appeared as himself in multiple episodes in 2014 and 2015.
- Westworld – he acted in three episodes in 2020.
If you want to see some other Bar Rescue episodes from Oakland and San Francisco, check out these posts:
- The Lister / Park 77 update
- The Roc / Fort One update
- Patriot House / The Holding Company update
- Sam Jordan’s update
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-01-26 06:19