A year after one of Bar Rescue's most dramatic episodes, checking in on Zanzibar Billiards

zanzibar3_opt.jpg
Jon Solomon
In March 2013, Spike Network featured Zanzibar Billiards on Larimer Street on its popular reality series Bar Rescue. During the episode, owner Ami Benari and the show's host, Jon Taffer, nearly got into a full-on brawl.

"It was hairy for a few moments, because he made me mad," Benari says. Nonetheless, he adds, "we ended up friends. He's actually a very nice guy -- very intense. And I am very intense. When you put two strong personalities together, you cannot help having some fireworks."

As part of Bar Rescue's five-day overhaul in December 2012, Taffer, a longtime bar-and-club consultant who has transformed a number of failing bars on the show, changed Zanzibar's name to Stars & Stripes Badass Billiards.

"In general, we're very grateful; they did a nice job," says Benari. "They could have done more, but they did a nice job. And we're thankful for the exposure and for the advice. Except the name. The name sucked."

Due to public demand, Benari went back to his original moniker. He ignored a few of Taffer's other recommendations, as well. "We're back to free pool," he says. "He wanted me to charge for the pool, but I don't believe in that. I believe in treating my customers right."



Still, Bar Rescue left its mark. "We kept the colors," notes Benari. "We kept the theme." He also kept the new menu that Taffer helped set up. Along with its Mediterranean and American dishes, Zanzibar has what Benari calls "the biggest burger in town," with "half a pound of meat."

The episode became one of the show's most popular because of what happened between Taffer and Benari, and business picked up for the pool hall.


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21 comments
Diane Ramos-Goheen
Diane Ramos-Goheen

Meredith Collins & Sally Egger this was the article I was telling you guys about :-)

Bryon A. Henderson
Bryon A. Henderson

We never even noticed it before seeing it on Bar Rescue but it's since become one of my favorite downtown spots.

Rian Milehigh
Rian Milehigh

Great place, been coming heree for yrs! They just charge for pool on the weekends, the staff is awesome, and the wings for 50cent wing wendsdays are REALLY amazing!

Scott Santeramo
Scott Santeramo

Interesting he keeps pool free. As a customer I appreciate that, but as a business owner...he's losing alot of money by not charging for that. I expect to pay for pool, especially in downtown Denver.

Andrew Keiswetter
Andrew Keiswetter

I've been going here off and on since it opened, I've never noticed it looked any different??

Ryan Jamaal Waggoner
Ryan Jamaal Waggoner

Oh yes, the bar we never made it inside due to the brawl with security at the door.

Alexa Knight
Alexa Knight

This place still sucks after bar rescue. I went last summer and there was only one slow bartender that does not know anything that goes on in the kitchen or menu. The open area was left dirty for over an hour until some busser finally decided to come around and clean. The food times are very inconsistent some fried food took over 45 mins, and the advertising for specials all around the bar are misleading.

clownstraphobic
clownstraphobic

This place is a joke that can be summed up in one word, "Lodo".

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