The Dale 1891 bar in Carrollwood has officially been wiped from existence — and bar owner Scott Edelman couldn't be happier.
In its place sits Cayman Cove, Dale Mabry Highway's own tropical island-themed bar. Jon Taffer's Bar Rescue television program chose the establishment out of 2,000 bars nationwide to received Taffer's special makeover.
As customers approach the venue, they will notice an outdoor tiki bar, colorful walls with bamboo accents and a canopy, resembling a Caribbean island beach style. The transformation took approximately 36 hours to complete.
Scott Edelman and his wife, Stephanie, opened Dale 1891 four years ago. About a year and a half ago, the couple began to fear the worst for their bar.
"The bills were piling up, we were working 70 hours a week, we couldn't pay our own bills," Edelman said. "I was ready to pack up and move back to New York and forget about the bar."
Edelman heard from fellow bar owners that Spike channel's Bar Rescue was scouting the Tampa Bay area for potential locations. He wrote a long email to the show, hoping to convince the producers that his bar made the perfect candidate. After receiving a reply, the process began, with Edelman vying for a chance to be featured on the show. One by one, bars were cut from the selection processes.
Edelman's Carrollwood establishment remained on the list and beat the odds. He feels fortunate.
"This is the only bar that has ever been done in Hillsborough County," he said. "It's very difficult to get the opportunity."
Taffer, a veteran bar owner consultant with more than 30 years of experience, has worked with hundreds of institutions and once employed just less than 1,000 employees.
"I had the chance to do those things, but to walk into someone who is failing and who is really at the last two weeks of running out of money — they are destitute," Taffer told the International Business Times. "They are in trouble. When I arrive I'm their last chance and wow, I take that seriously."
Edelman believes Taffer has helped him move from destitution by giving his bar tropical island appeal.
"What the bar really needed was an identity," he said. "It was a nice place to begin with, it was just very disjointed. It had no central theme.
"Now we have one consistent theme that feels like a relaxing vacation to the beach."
The tropical transformation included a change in the menu and drink selections. Cayman Cove now features cuisine by Food Network chef Kevin Bludso.
"We used to have a typical American-style menu," Edelman said. "Taffer gave us a menu that complements the look. We have a Caribbean-style menu that includes Cuban sandwiches and chicken, beef and shrimp skewers with mango salsa."
The new, colorful cocktails such as the Cayman Cooler and the Jumping Shark also offer an island feel to customers.
Cayman Cove has only been open for a matter of weeks, but Edelman says he has already seen a 15 to 20 percent increase in revenue. He says he's drawing more women and couples, and an increase in people coming from Villagio Cinemas, a movie theater in the same plaza co-owned by Edelman's father, Howard Edelman. Additionally, the owner has noticed more customers sitting indoors versus outside.
"Particularly on the weekends, they are busy," said friend and long-time customer Mike Wasp. "From what I can see overall, the business has been much better."
Wasp also praises the Cayman Cove owners for their extensive hospitality over their four years of business.
"Scott and Stephanie do a great job of welcoming people. Everyone is treated well," he said. "Regardless of who you are and where you're from, you're treated right as a customer."
While Cayman Cove has undergone some big changes, there are some things Edelman vows to never change about his establishment.
"We are one of the only bars in the area that stays open until 1 a.m. kitchen-wise, during the week," Edelman said. "What we emphasize is our hospitality. We take care of our customers and offer them the best service."
The owner is expecting many people to come to the soft opening Saturday, but expects an even larger crowd on the day the Bar Rescue episode airs.
"What (Jon Taffer) did is beautiful," he said. "Anyone who comes to see (the restaurant) loves it."
Scott Edelman invites everyone to see the transformation. He plans on having a viewing party for the show at Cayman Cove some time in the spring. Bar Rescue's new season begins in March and a Spike channel spokesman said the show featuring Cayman Cove is tentatively scheduled to air in May.
Contact Virginia Barreda at [email protected]