(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
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. 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?
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.
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:
So were the changes from the Cerealholic Bar Rescue episode successful? Keep reading to learn how the bar is doing in 2022.
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.
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.
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.
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:
THIS IS NO LONGER CEREALHOLIC CAFE AND BAR
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:
- JF Kicks / Jimmy’s update
- Jerry’s Dockside Bar / AJ’s on the River update
- Crowne Irish Pub / The Forge update
What did you think about the The Loft Elevated Bar + Food Bar Rescue episode? I'd love it if you shared your thoughts on the episode in the comments below!
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And don't forget to check out all of the other Bar Rescue updates.
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Last updated: 2022-09-23 07:48