(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 1 | View All Season 1 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: August 14, 2011
The Bar's Original Name Was: Swanky Bubbles
Sheer Address: 10 S Front St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Swanky Bubbles, later renamed to Sheer, was a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania bar that was featured on Season 1 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Swanky Bubbles Bar Rescue episode aired in August 2011, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place before that.
It was Season 1 Episode 5 and the episode name was “Swanky Troubles”.
Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Swanky Bubbles is owned by John Frankowski and Ryan Dorsey.
After going to a successful champagne bar in New York City, John was inspired.
At its peak, the restaurant and bar was doing $100,000 a month, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
However, the good times at Swanky Bubbles would not last, which is why the Swanky Bubbles Bar Rescue episode exists.
I mean, you don’t see a lot of successful bars asking for help from Jon Taffer, right?
Three years ago, the popularity began to wear off, and Swanky Bubbles began losing money.
Now they are losing close to $4,000 a month.
John is barely at the bar anymore, and co-owner Ryan must make all the decisions.
It is a high-stress environment and, to make matters worse, the servers receive low tips.
Jon Taffer and his wife Nicole Taffer stake out Swanky Bubbles in the back of the SUV.
Nicole then goes into the bar to do recon, which she used to do a lot on the show.
The bar has a permanent bar gate that doesn’t open, meaning the staff has to duck under it to get to the bar.
Nicole and her friend Valerie pretend to be single ladies out on the town.
Ryan talks to them and offers them a drink for free.
He makes sexual implications, and Nicole and her friend leave.
The following day Jon tells the staff that Ryan is a problem.
The bar is also too enclosed and dirty.
The bartenders tell Jon they are often out of liquor and have to go buy it themselves to have something to work with.
Jon Taffer is still not happy about Ryan’s behavior.
Jon brings in Chef Brian Hill, and he tours the kitchen saying the dishwasher smells.
Mixologist Elayne Duke has the bar staff make simple drinks to assess their skills.
Elayne tells John the bar staff needs more space.
Chef Brian said the menu is too vast.
Jon has an idea to turn the bar into a social club for women with simple food and cool drinks.
However, Ryan is in denial about his behavior.
Jon warns him that to succeed; he must change.
Chef Brian tells the staff that the dishwasher needs to be sanitized nightly.
The cook is annoyed and walks out of the kitchen.
Jon reminds Ryan to either step up or step aside.
Jon gathers the staff to sample the new menu.
Swanky Bubbles has a stress test to see how well the staff handles things.
However, the bartender, Tim, can’t keep up with all of the drink orders coming in.
Jon is fed up and tells Tim to leave.
The ticket times are up to one hour, and customers are ravenous.
Imagine waiting an hour just to get your food – that’s friggin’ ridiculous!
Customers fill out comment cards at the end of the dinner service.
Jon meets with the staff and discusses the issues.
Ryan lacked the leadership that was needed to make the night a success.
Jon can’t want to rid the bar of its old décor.
After reconstruction, Jon changes the name of the bar to Sheer.
The bar looks classier, and Ryan hires a new line cook to replace the one who quit.
There is a bachelorette party at Sheer that evening, and they are unhappy with their service.
The staff manages to turn things around, and they leave happy.
So was the Swanky Bubbles Bar Rescue visit a success? Keep reading to learn what happened next and if the bar is still open in 2023 and beyond.
Sheer Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Sheer Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about what happened after Jon Taffer and his team left the building.
First off, the new name, Sheer, did not last long.
John changed the name back to Swanky Bubbles pretty much as soon as Jon Taffer left.
Maybe that wasn’t a good idea, as you’ll see in a second…
But first, let’s look at some Swanky Bubbles reviews!
Swanky Bubbles reviews after Bar Rescue
Overall, Swanky Bubbles had a 3 star rating on 99 Yelp reviews, though that includes reviews from before and after Taffer’s visit.
The recent reviews were generally mixed or negative, so it doesn’t seem like there was much improvement.
That doesn’t surprise me, given that John didn’t seem to buy in to Jon Taffer’s concept.
It also seems like Swanky Bubbles was running a lot of discount promotions to get people in the door, such as Groupon deals.
Here’s a sampling of a few reviews that were written after the visit from Jon Taffer…
1 star Yelp review from November 2011:
This restaurant was terrible.
When we walked in we got a dingy awkward feeling from the decor and atmosphere of the restaurant.
There was no one to greet us at the door to seat us at a table and when the manager finally noticed us standing at the door he just told us to sit where ever we’d like.
We were so uncomfortable but we decided to stay since we had a groupon.
The food was extremely over priced as well as being just ok to taste.
The menu was huge and overwhelming, and they were out of some of alcohol needed to make the drinks we wanted from the bar.
I will never step foot in the place again.
Terrible feeling while dinning at this over priced dingy restaurant.
I didn’t even want to give this review a star.
4 star Yelp review from October 2011:
Went there a few weeks ago, and had the filet mignon, it was cooked just as ordered, and very tasty.
Also took some sashimi to go, and the yellow tail was good as well.
They were in the middle of some renovations, but were to have them completed them soon, would go back again.
Easy parking in front too!
2 star Yelp review from September 2011:
We had a Travelzoo voucher so we made our way to Olde City for some sushi and champagne cocktails.
It was not good.
We got there early (5 pm) so we could be home for a big football game later that night so we were some of the first people in the restaurant.
First impression? The whole place smelled like an ashtray.
I don’t know if they allow smoking late at night (illegally) or if they haven’t replaced the carpet since the smoking ban but it was instantly awful and unappetizing.
My second impression was that a place called “Swanky” should be in much better shape.
The carpet was shabby, the chairs was worn and torn and the tables had wrinkly, glittery contact paper. Ew.
…(long review continues)
Is Sheer from Bar Rescue still open?
Sheer closed for good around November 2011, just about a few months after its Bar Rescue episode aired on TV.
At the time that the bar closed, it had gone back to doing business as Swanky Bubbles instead of the name that Jon Taffer gave it.
Why did Swanky Bubbles close?
Well, there were two reasons – problems with its liquor license and tax liens against the bar.
First, the bar was struggling with its liquor license, which is obviously a big issue.
It seems like the landlord and the Swanky Bubbles owners were in a dispute over the liquor license.
Either way, its status was “inactive”, which means that Swanky Bubbles wasn’t able to legally serve alcohol.
On October 27, 2011, the Common Pleas Court barred the Swanky Bubbles owners from selling the license (because the property landlord said it belonged to the property, I guess).
Second, there were tax liens against the bar, which means that there were money troubles as well.
This Philly Inquire article details those two issues.
As of 2023, the old Swanky Bubbles Philadelphia location is occupied by a British pub called The Victoria Freehouse.
Reviews for the new pub seem good, as it has a four star rating on its Yelp page.
Here’s a Google Maps Street View shot that shows the old Swanky Bubbles Philadelphia property:
There was also a Swanky Bubbles Cherry Hill NJ location, in addition to the Swanky Bubbles Philadelphia location that Jon Taffer visited.
The Cherry Hill location is also closed – I think some time in 2013. Jon Taffer didn’t rescue that location – I’m just sharing in case you’re interested.
Overall, Jon Taffer has not had a good record in Philadelphia, as all of the other Bar Rescue Philadelphia episodes have also ended in failure.
If you want to see updates for those other bars, you can check out my updates for Lickety Split / 2nd State Lounge in downtown Philadelphia, Downey’s Irish Pub in downtown Philadelphia, and Plush / Osteria Calabria in Glenside (Philly suburbs).
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-02-12 06:00