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Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue on Succeeding in the Reaction Business Interview with Bar Rescue Star and Executive Producer Jon Taffer about defeating self doubt, keeping authenticity intact, and being in the reaction business.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Only You Can Say "No" to You - After being told by friends at Paramount that he would never be on television, Jon Taffer now finds himself as Executive Producer for Bar Rescue on Paramount. That journey has taught him valuable lessons of belief and purpose that he continues to carry with him.
  • Authenticity is Critical - Leverage is everything. Jon Taffer was successful before he became a TV star, which allowed him to negotiate authenticity into his expectations. He wasn't, and isn't, willing to "sell his soul.” He attributes his success to being true to himself.
  • The Reaction Business - Jon Taffer does not believe he or any other restaurateur is in the restaurant business. He believes, instead, that all are in the business of creating reactions. Those who create the greatest reaction win.
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In Jon Taffer's eyes, the restaurant industry isn't just about serving food and beverage — it's about creating REACTIONS.

The Bar Rescue host and executive producer knows the importance of understanding the psychology behind customers' reactions. It's at the core of his business philosophy.

Jon Taffer's journey to becoming host and executive producer of Bar Rescue on Paramount was not without challenges.

Despite initial doubts from friends about his ability to be a TV star, the famed businessman has held onto two powerful lessons that continue to shape his success: the importance of believing in oneself and the value of long-term vision over short-term gains.

As Jon Taffer tells Restaurant Influencers host Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ Media, "The only person who can say no to you — is you — don't ever forget that."

Before stepping into the limelight as star of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer had already tasted lots of success in his career.

This pre-existing experience gave him the leverage to keep authenticity as a non-negotiable going into his famous hospitality series. Refusing to "sell his soul," he stood ground when some producers suggested adding fake elements for dramatic effect.

Jon Taffer's commitment to real and authentic content not only saved the show and made it a big hit, but also strengthened his brand. His unwavering authenticity is a cornerstone of his identity, both on and off the screen.

He stresses the significance of remaining true to oneself in the world of content creation.

"I had an understanding with the network that if it wasn't real, I would walk away because my brand still meant a lot to me before I was on TV." says Jon Taffer. "I'm me. I'm no different talking to you now, than I am on TV. That's really important. No matter what we do in a content world, authenticity is critical."

Restaurateurs who can consistently generate positive reactions from their patrons, whether through culinary excellence or impeccable service, are the ones who stand above the rest.

As he puts it, the restaurant business is about creating reactions, not just making meals.

Taffer believes that success lies in how effectively restaurateurs can evoke responses from their customers. To him, a dish on the table is not merely an entree, but a vehicle to elicit a reaction from the diner.

Jon Taffer's approach to the restaurant industry is characterized by his dedication to creating meaningful experiences for customers. He emphasizes that it's not about simply serving food or pouring drinks but rather orchestrating moments that evoke delight and satisfaction.

"I don't believe you're in a restaurant business. I don't believe you're in the food and beverage business. You're in a reaction business. Your cook and kitchen is not making an entree. That is not the product. He's producing a reaction."

Jon Taffer's journey from being told he would never be on television to becoming an Executive Producer of a hit series has been fueled by an unwavering belief in himself and a commitment to authenticity.

Success is not about the products or services we offer but about the reactions we elicit from our audience.



Restaurant Influencers is brought to you by Toast, the powerful restaurant point of sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.

Toast — Powering Successful Restaurants. Learn more about Toast.

Shawn P. Walchef

Founder of Cali BBQ Media

“Be the show, not the commercial.”

Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef helps brands and leaders leverage the new Business Creator Economy with strategic Smartphone Storytelling and Digital Hospitality.

His Cali BBQ restaurant company has generated more than $35 million since opening in 2008. They operate numerous locations in San Diego and beyond.

Shawn’s weekly video series Restaurant Influencers (published by Entrepreneur Media and produced by Cali BBQ Media) has been seen by over 25 million people.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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