(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 7 | View All Season 7 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: April 5, 2020
The Bar's Original Name Was: The Sandbar Brewery and Grill
Playa Island Bar Address: 4100 San Mateo Blvd NE Albuquerque, NM 87110
The Sandbar Brewery and Grill, later renamed to Playa Island Bar, was an Albuquerque, New Mexico bar that was featured on Season 7 of Bar Rescue.
Though the Sandbar Bar Rescue episode aired in April 2020, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place a good bit before that in August 2019 (before the Covid-19 pandemic).
It was Season 7 Episode 6 and the episode name was “Life’s a Beach”.
Note – there was another bar named Sandbar that was featured on Bar Rescue in Season 4. If you’re looking for that update, check out our Sandbar Sports Grill / Hot Rock update.
Sean Cowell owns The Sandbar Brewery and Grill, located in Albuquerque, NM. Or at least that’s what he thinks.
In 2017 Sean and Mike Martinez formed a partnership to open a beach-themed bar with volleyball courts.
That means they’ve only had the bar for a couple of years at the time of the Sandbar Bar Rescue episode.
At first, The Sandbar was successful, but soon they began to struggle.
The Sandbar needed more money to stay afloat, so Sean asked Mike and other investors for more money.
Because of taking on that outside money, Sean’s stake went down to 10% (though Mike disputes even this small ownership).
Now, Mike barely acknowledges Sean’s ownership in The Sandbar, and the two argue a lot which makes staff and customers uncomfortable.
The decor is not beach-themed anymore, and the bar is in severe, mounting debt.
After Sean lost his home, he contacted Bar Rescue and asked for help from Jon Taffer and his crew.
Jon Taffer thinks a beach bar is a great idea, especially in New Mexico. So this one definitely has potential.
To recon the bar, mixologist Amy Koffsky and Chef Jason Santos are with Jon Taffer outside the bar.
The camera footage shows Kenny, the manager, David and Carissa’s bartenders, and server Elizabeth.
Behind the bar, David makes a drink but uses a rotten lime as garnish.
The cook, Victor, is using dirty oil to fry food in the kitchen.
Amy and Jason go into The Sandbar and tell Sean to meet with Jon outside the SUV.
The experts order drinks and food at the bar.
The drink tastes too much like the sour mix, and the nachos are cold.
Jon and Sean talk, and Sean tells him that he still owns 10% of the bar.
Mike then meets with Jon Taffer and tells him Sean defaulted on his loan and lost the business entirely.
Sean brings out paperwork stating he owns 10% of the bar, and even though he has signed it, the other parties have not, making the form invalid.
Jon Taffer enters The Sandbar and tells the employees Sean does not own the bar but has been acting as he does. Awkward!
Jon returns the following day to talk to the staff and learn more about the bar.
The staff confides in Jon that Sean hides in the office all day and only comes out to scold them.
The bar has no theme or identity, among many other issues.
The employees are shown a Partender report which states they will lose a projected $137,000, which is some serious cheddar.
In the kitchen, Victor, the cook, complains to Chef Jason that he has no control of the kitchen and the menu.
Chef Jason wants the cooks to rediscover their love of cooking, so he teaches them tasty and simple taco dishes.
Amy also trains the bartenders on consistency to prep them for the stress test.
Amy asks Sean to make a drink, and he refuses, which angers Mike, so Jon takes him outside.
The two men talk, and Mike decides to give Sean another chance during the stress test.
Sean and Kenny are in charge of their own set of servers and bartenders.
At the end of the stress test, they will see which team performed better and who won
Kenny is a great leader and helps his team out at the bar.
On the other side, Sean’s team is falling behind because Sean has disappeared.
Mike has seen enough of Sean’s behavior and fires him.
The two men get into a verbal argument, but Sean finally leaves.
After the stress test, Mike tells the staff Kenny is the new manager, and they are happy.
Once the stress test is finished, the experts can really get down to work training the staff.
Chef Jason trains the cooks on how to make easy snack dishes.
Kim teaches the bartenders how to upsell drinks at the bar with jello shots.
While all of that is happening, Jon Taffer and his crew are hard at work on renovating the bar.
While Jon did like the beach theme, he decided to rename the bar from The Sandbar Brewery to Playa Island Bar.
I gotta be honest – I hate the new name. Spoiler alert – The Sandbar owners also seem to hate it, as you’ll see in a second.
Beyond the new name, they also got a lot of new equipment from the show’s sponsors.
Mirage Vision TV has supplied the bar with TVs, and Rockless Tables have provided new tables.
Customers come into the bar and are impressed.
They are pleased with the food, decor, and drinks.
The employees do a great job of staying on top of orders and things seem to be looking up for the bar.
So was the Sandbar Brewery Bar Rescue episode a success? Keep reading our update to learn what happened and how the bar is doing in 2023.
Playa Island Bar Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Playa Island Bar Bar Rescue episode, let’s talk about what happened after Jon Taffer and his crew left Albuquerque, New Mexico.
First off, it wasn’t named Playa Island Bar for very long.
Shortly after Jon Taffer left, the bar returned to use The Sandbar Brewery name and ditched Playa Island Bar.
Despite that, sales did seem to increase when the Bar Rescue producers checked in with the owners.
However, that would not be enough to save the bar as the bar wasn’t even able to stay open long enough for the Playa Island Bar Rescue episode to air on TV.
Is The Sandbar from Bar Rescue still open?
The Sandbar Brewery closed in November 2019, which was three months after Jon Taffer’s actual visit but five months before the episode aired on TV.
When it closed, the bar was doing business as The Sandbar Brewery and not Playa Island Bar, which shows that they really didn’t keep Jon Taffer’s concept for very long.
Because the bar had such a short run, there aren’t really any reviews or social media posts to look at to get an idea of how it was working.
Overall, The Sandbar had a 2.5 star rating on Yelp, but most of those reviews were written before the visit from Jon Taffer.
Here are a few example reviews that were written after Taffer’s visit (but before the episode actually aired on TV).
4 star Yelp review from September 2019:
Football Sunday is where it’s at here!
I love the vibe and our server Elizabeth was outstanding!
Let’s not forget to mention that the carne asada quesadilla was on point.
And the seating is 10x better than it was before!
And huge shout out to the DJ for keeping us entertained in between commercial breaks.
5 star Yelp review from September 2019:
Always a great place to be.
The food is good and the bloody Mary’s are great.
I have to say, the House DJ is one of the best DJ’s ever.
The DJ never disappoints and always gets the party going.
Enjoy the nights out here as well as the game days.
2 star Yelp review from August 2019:
Terrible, horrible service.
They don’t have any low calorie drinks available, except water.
They don’t even have a diet soda option.
The only reason I didn’t give one star is because it’s a cool concept, having a volleyball court and they did offer salsa lessons.
1 star Yelp review from October 2019:
This place used to be very fun but the new management has made this place full of pretentious workers and expensive games.
As of 2022, the old The Sandbar Albuquerque, NM location seems to still be vacant.
In a February 2022 image from Google Maps Street View, you can still see the main The Sandbar sign.
If you look below that, you can see a message saying “For Lease, Got Space”.
Here’s a Google Maps street view embed for the old Playa Island Bar Albuquerque NM location so that you can see if anything changes – in the most recent update (October 2022), it’s still showing the same building and sign:
Overall, the Playa Island Bar Rescue episode wasn’t very satisfying because the bar didn’t keep Jon Taffer’s concept and it closed just a few months after his visit.
Again, if you want to learn about another bar named Sandbar that appeared on Bar Rescue, you can check out our Sandbar Sports Grill / Hot Rock update from Season 3.
And if you want to see another Albuquerque Bar Rescue episode, you can check out our Lucky 66 Bowl / Great 66 Entertainment Center update.
The VFW Post 6216 episode was also shot in Albuquerque, though that’s not a for-profit bar.
Those three episode are the only three Bar Rescue New Mexico episodes so far, but there are plenty of episodes in nearby Texas and Colorado that you can find on the full Bar Rescue updates page.
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2022-12-08 06:25