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‘Bar Rescue’ descends on Cork & Thorn in all-Vegas season

Updated March 23, 2021 - 7:18 pm

She kept the name and saved the vibe.

The Cork & Thorn nightclub, wine bar and floral emporium has survived “Bar Rescue.” Venue owner Randi Garrett’s hideaway was given a thorough once-over by Jon Taffer and his crew from Wednesday through Saturday, and came away with a new lease.

On life, we mean.

“It was crazy, they came in here and Jon does what he normally does, with the yelling, but overall it was a really good experience,” Garrett said Sunday night as Chimini-Yoka Branch and the M.O.B. Band rocked the club’s return to business. “We don’t have that many problems, I don’t have employees getting drunk or anything like that, we’re not all fighting. And he is really nice, off-camera.”

Some nice upgrades are a result. The club has been outfitted with a new kitchen, a dedicated bar (replacing the club’s portable setup), furniture, lighting, and the blue walls have been turned black.

Taffer said the episode is set to air in June, the third episode in a season that zeroes in on 10 Las Vegas businesses. The gangster-themed Capo’s Restaurant and Speakeasy (helmed by the well-known restaurateur Nico Santucci) on West Sahara Avenue opens the season May 5.

The premiere is followed by Paradise Cantina the second week, with future “Rescue” projects to be announced. “Bar Rescue” is moving to the Paramount + platform for the upcoming season.

Cork & Thorn is the first downtown business on the all-Vegas season. A couple years ago Garrett moved the club from Tivoli Village to its current location on 70 W. Imperial Ave., between Main and Commerce streets. It is, in fact, an alleyway hideaway. It’s secluded location is great for mystique, but not always great for business.

Thus, Garrett needs to work every advantage.

“There are a lot of things I still need to learn, and he set me up with that,” Garrett said. “The biggest benefits were the kitchen and a functioning bar. He set me up for success with the kitchen, and the bar and POS (point of sale) system will help me keep everything in order.”

Cork & Thorn is also now outfitted with several Bluezone air-filtration systems, as the “Bar Rescue” team reinforced pandemic safety measures in the club.

“We did a lot of COVID tests; literally every couple of days we had to take COVID tests,” Garrett said. “They set me up with these Bluezone systems, in the corners, everywhere, the bathrooms. They pull out all the bad air.”

Taffer’s team interviewed Garrett several times over the past few months before descending on the Arts District. The TV host and hospitality expert has moved his full operation to Las Vegas, hence the focus on the city for the upcoming season.

“We wanted to support the Arts District, and we found someone who was in this for all the right reasons but was losing a lot of money,” Taffer said in a phone chat Saturday, as work was being completed on the club. “We didn’t want to throw the brand away while still executing her dream.”

Taffer’s team updated the food and drink menus and installed a permanent bar, with an updated point-of-sale system. Taffer had never been in the place until filming began last week.

“It’s funny how you look at it because it seems we didn’t change much, but nothing is the same,” Taffer said. “Conceptionally, we just made it a better execution of her vision.”

Cork & Thorn continues its nightly live-music program, with Skye Dee Miles holding court Wednesday nights. Ali Starr, whom we met in Matt Goss’ lineup at the Mirage, headlines Saturdays. The new menu offers such delicious new items as Cast Iron Brie (baked brie, bacon jam, bourbon syrup, roasted pecans and ciabatta toast), which you devour even if you’re not hungry. Garrett also continues to offer wine events and floral-design classes.

But now Cork & Thorn, with that descriptive name, is ready to bloom.

“We have great people and so much talent coming in here,” Garrett said. “I’m excited. I’m overjoyed. I’m blessed. I can’t wait to play with everything.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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