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