The Loft Bar Rescue Update (Cerealholic Cafe) – Still Open in 2023?

Is The Loft Elevated Bar + Food still open today?

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

Season: 8 | View All Season 8 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: May 15, 2022
The Bar's Original Name Was: Cerealholic Cafe
The Loft Elevated Bar + Food Address: 1909 N 15th St Tampa, FL 33605

The Loft Bar Rescue Update (Cerealholic Cafe)

Episode Recap

Cerealholic Cafe, later renamed to The Loft Elevated Bar + Food, was an Ybor City / Tampa, Florida bar that was featured on Season 8 of Bar Rescue.

Though the The Loft Bar Rescue episode aired in May 2022, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place before that.

It was Season 8 Episode 20 and the episode name was “Magically Atrocious”.

In this episode, Jon Taffer visits Cerealholic Cafe in Tampa, FL.

More specifically, the restaurant/bar is located in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, which is a hip historic area known for boutiques and vintage shops.

The restaurant is located in an historic old church, which is a very unique space.

Cerealholic Cafe is owned by Lisa and Darrell Lawson, who opened it in early 2021.

Cerealholic Cafe owners on Bar Rescue

That means they’ve only owned it for around a year at the time of the Cerealholic Bar Rescue episode.

As the name suggests, the restaurant had a very…unique concept, with a focus on breakfast cereals.

For example, there were chicken wings with cereal sprinkled on top, cereal crepes, french fries with cereal sprinkled on top, and so on.

They call it a “nostalgia-based bar”.

Beyond the cereal focus, it also has a very 80s/90s theme.

That could work well for a brunch spot, but it’s a bit odd for a bar.

Personally, I don’t think it sounds very tasty, either, though reviews for the original Cerealholic Cafe spot seemed decent.

Like – why would you want Cinnamon Toast Crunch on top of your meatballs?

Cerealholic on Bar Rescue

I guess it does kind of fit with the unique and quirky nature of Ybor City.

However, a lot of the Cerealholic Cafe agree with me that it’s more of an odd touristy gimmick than a place that would have a bunch of regulars.

While Darrell and Lisa Lawson opened they bar, they brought in their son Brandon to manage it.

They all have experience in the hospitality industry.

Brandon also previously worked as a general manager at another establishment and has a Masters in finance.

Brandon Cerealholic Cafe Bar Rescue

However, Lisa and Darrell invested their life savings to open it, so they have a lot riding on the success of Cerealholic Cafe.

Unfortunately, Cerealholic Cafe never really caught on and it’s been floundering since the initial opening.

At the time of the Cerealholic Cafe Bar Rescue visit, the bar is reportedly losing a massive $9,000 per month.

Darrell and Lisa are also having to take out loans just to make payroll.

While I respect them for doing that to avoid stiffing their staff (which a lot of other Bar Rescue owners have done), it’s definitely not a long-term solution.

The issues with the bar are also causing stress between Lisa and Brandon.

Brandon is more focused on the nuts and bolts while Lisa likes the creative part.

As part of the renovations, Jon Taffer rebranded it to a more traditional bar named The Loft Elevated Bar + Food.

He completely ditched the quirky cereal focus, which I think is a good call.

For example, you can see the new menu here – it’s much more standard fare:

The Loft menu after Bar Rescue

So were the changes from the Cerealholic Bar Rescue episode successful? Keep reading to learn how the bar is doing in 2024.

The Loft Elevated Bar + Food Update - What Happened Next?

Now that we’ve recapped the The Loft Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about how the bar is doing after Jon Taffer and his crew left Tampa, FL.

I’ll also share some reviews from real customers that happened after Taffer’s changes were put into effect.

After Taffer’s visit, the owners kept the new name that Jon Taffer gave the bar and were doing business as The Loft.

However, they did some creative things such as a “one-night takeover” with the original Cerealholic Cafe concept.

The Loft had a Cerealholic takeover

I actually think this is a smart concept.

The Cerealholic Cafe concept is interesting, but it’s way too much to be a 24/7 thing.

Doing a one-day takeover let’s them draw a crowd without fully committing to doing that every day.

The bar also regularly posted other events on its Facebook page.

Its most popular events seemed to be the drag shows, as it hosted them all the time.

The bar also had live music/DJs on weekends.

The Loft owners seemed to generally be happy with the Bar Rescue experience, as they promoted the episode a good bit on the bar’s Facebook page.

However, Taffer’s changes would not help the bar achieve long-term success.

Is The Loft from Bar Rescue still open?

The Loft closed in August 2022, which means it only survived for around three months after the Bar Rescue episode aired on TV and five or six months after the actual visit from Jon Taffer.

Darrell and Lisa Lawson said that they needed to close the bar so that they could focus on family issues.

The bar’s last open day was August 21 and they ended with a drag show.

In announcing the bar’s upcoming closure, they posted the following message on Facebook, along with a remembrance video:

As many of our Cerealholic and Loft family and friends know, we are a family owned and operated business.

We have had our struggles and great achievements.

Our time in this community has been the most honored feelings for all of us.

Given we are a family business, we have had some family issues that require full attention.

This is a very difficult decision, which we have contemplated and reviewed for some time now.

With a very heavy heart, we have decided to move on from our wonderful, amazing business.

We took painstaking measures to ensure we find a business to take over our place in this community and honor the rich history and community we have become to be a part of. We have the deepest gratitude to all of our followers and fans.

You have enabled us to move on with amazing support.

So many of you have become like family and we (I) will always be grateful and miss all of you so much.

As I review all of the pictures, events, posts, etc, it becomes clear how much it will be very difficult to move on.

However, our family is first and foremost to us.

Here’s a screenshot of the Facebook post in case it gets deleted:

The Loft closed after this message on Facebook

The old The Loft Ybor City location has already been occupied by a new business called SpookEasy Lounge, which had its soft opening on September 1, 2022.

That’s a very quick turnaround between The Loft closing and the new bar opening, so I’m guessing this transition was already set up before The Loft closed.

In fact, The Loft helped promote SpookEasy Lounge on The Loft Facebook page, so the Loft owners definitely seem to be helping SpookEasy get attention to the new concept.

SpookEasy replaced The Loft

As of 2023, SpookEasy Lounge is still doing business at the old The Loft Tampa FL location and seems to have decent reviews.

If anything changes, I will let you know.

The Loft Bar Rescue Reviews

There hadn’t been a ton of reviews after the Cerealholic Bar Rescue visit but the reviews that did exist seemed generally positive.

Overall, it had a 4.5 star rating on Yelp (on the old Cerealholic page), a 4.3 star rating on Google Reviews, and a 4.6 star rating on Facebook.

Some regulars who were fans of Cerealholic did seem to be a bit put off by the changes, though.

Here’s a sampling of reviews that were written after the Loft Bar Rescue visit:

4 star Google review from May 2022:

I might have the first pictures since “bar rescue” renovated the space.

The episode airs on May 15th, 2022. Anyway 3 stars on the atmosphere alone.

I randomly chose this spot on a Sunday morning as I googled for brunch spots.

This place use to be a cereal bar (apparently) and now it’s a bar you need to go to for the drinks and drag queen brunch.

The service was attentive and the DJ was good.

They also have flash back Fridays beginning at 8pm.

I wasn’t in love with my dish(the farmhouse brunch) but I also didn’t hate it.

All in all I’ll be back to give the food another chance but the vibe is nice.

4 star Google review from April 2022:

The new concept the Loft was nice.

Much more elegant decor vs the kitschy that it was before.

Service was better than before the relaunch but still slow.

I get if I have to walk to the bar to get drinks.

But you served me at the table to begin with.

It should continue the way it began

5 star Google review from April 2022:

Only reason i’m giving this 5 starts is because Rachel gave me the best experience I had in awhile.

Even though the food was mediocre.

The new design is nice and a lot better then the last one but i feel they need new management at least or events to make this place more attractive..

Drinks are expensive as well

1 star Google review from April 2022:

Came to this place for a brunch crawl with friends.

The food was below average, but the drink was really good.

Unfortunately, the star rating I’m giving this place isn’t due to the drinks/food, but the service.

This place was not busy during the time we came and the waitress we received was not great at all.

My friends never receive their drinks, which we asked for twice.

And she did not give us the water we requested twice!

She didn’t even give me silverware.

It was just so disappointing to experience.

I’ve never receive bad service before or I’m pretty chill considering the circumstances.

This was by far the worst that I had to write a review.

Cute ambience but I won’t be recommending this place at all, if anything I’ll be warning people.

2 star Google review from March 2022:

The loft has an extremely limited menu of only five items.

When you have a Cuban and you’re charging the highest price in Ybor City for the Cuban you set a high standard and their Cuban was awful probably the only one I’ve had in Ybor that I would say was awful.

It lacked taste.

Evidently they’re switching from a restaurant to a bar and I wish them well cuz they aren’t going to make it on the food that I got.

1 star Google review from March 2022:

An overall lack of communication on all fronts combined with poor service led to a disappointing experience.

I don’t think you can claim a supply chain issue for waffles…

This one made me laugh haha – supply chain issues for waffles!

3 star Yelp review from February 2022:


It’s now “elevated” due to a bar rescue show and has reopened with less exciting options and nothing truly wow-worthy.

They have to get through a few months and then they will be able to modify the menus again.

They are also planning to open in a new area with the original concept.

I would absolutely try them again in case it was an off day, but I was not impressed.

Drinks looked great but the taste was mediocre and the doughnut in one of our drinks was stale.

According to one review, though, the Cerealholic owners were planning to open another bar in the area that follows the original Cerealholic concept.

They also might revert some of Jon Taffer’s changes.

However, now that The Loft closed, I imagine those plans will be put on hold so that Darrell and Lisa can focus on their family.

In this part of Season 8, Jon Taffer visited four Tampa, FL area bars. If you want to see those other episodes, check out these posts:

Thanks for reading!

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Last updated: 2023-02-01 06:28

16 thoughts on “The Loft Bar Rescue Update (Cerealholic Cafe) – Still Open in 2023?”

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

  1. Finally a bar that actually kept Jon Taffer’s changes. I’m getting so tired of bars just ignoring his advice like the last few did.

  2. This is the worst place ever and the owners have no clue on how to run a bar or business period. They won’t be in business much longer, maybe another six months to a year at best. The problem is Bar Rescue can’t fix stupid, but they tried.

  3. I never felt so bad for any owner as I did the poor husband. That dude never planned for his life to turn out like this. He obviously never wanted to operate a bar, much less an absolutely ridiculous cereal bar with his wacky wife. Years of financial stress and strain made him red-faced and apoplectic from out-of-control blood pressure. Taffer not only saved an almost insolvent business, but a frayed marriage teetering on the brink of dissolution. He should advertise his marriage counseling services on the side, as more families would still be together with the Taffer Touch.

  4. Well my thought is John Taffer and Bar Rescue got used!
    Only open for 3 months after the rescue that sounds like they got shamed!
    Bar Rescue should have a legal right to recoup their expenses, these owners did not deserve the rescue! Should be sued for this! 😠

  5. why would they go to a drag show theme? Probably the mom showing her “creativity” again. Place may have survived without her creativity

  6. I’d guess someone in the family isn’t straight based on all the pride flags and drag show events. They are right down the street from HCC (Community College) though. Might have something to do with it as well.

    Either way, another example of not everyone is cut out for the hospitality industry.

  7. I think their goodbye post was really heartfelt. I knew they wouldn’t last though – anyone who thought the original concept was a good idea was not going to be able to run this place renovated the way it was.

    I, too, noticed all the pride flags before the remodel. Good for them for not caring when people like aholes on here call them “woke”. GROW UP! People are different. What are you going to do? Raise your children to hate, or have love and respect for others who are different?

    I hope they work out whatever family problems they were having and that nobody is tragically ill. Seemed like a nice remodel, too bad they couldn’t handle it. Not surprised, unfortunately.

  8. Another owner that took advantage of Jon Taffer and the Bar Rescue show. That bar was now GORGEOUS and they close a few months later? They now have to focus on family? They all work there together! Shady…

    • The cereal bar was a strange concept. To be honest, as soon as I saw the pride flags and the people wearing masks, I wasn’t rooting for them.


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