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Raleigh bar ‘rescued’ by Spike TV reality show

— A Raleigh nightclub is getting a much-needed makeover this week from “Bar Rescue,” a popular reality show that airs on Spike, a cable television network.

Cashmere, a self-described “upscale nightclub and lounge,” was called “a big challenge” by “Bar Rescue” host Jon Taffer, who said the club has been losing $12,000 a month.

“It had one of the drunkest, most obnoxious managers I’ve ever seen,” Taffer said. “He has been terminated.”

Taffer is the owner of a bar and nightclub consulting firm and has hosted “Bar Rescue” for each of the show’s three seasons.

Cashmere is one of two Wake County bars that the “Bar Rescue” crew made over in the last two weeks for episodes that will air this summer. The other, the former Characters Corners in Garner, reopened last week as MoonRunners Saloon with a nicer interior and improved operations.

Cashmere shares a lobby – and a thumping-bass-permeating wall – with Sullivan’s Steakhouse in downtown Raleigh’s Glenwood South district. Taffer, who said he and the crew enjoyed a “really wonderful dinner” at Sullivan’s Wednesday night, admitted part of the challenge in transforming Cashmere (which will have a new name Saturday) has been repairing the bar’s precarious relationship with the swanky steakhouse. The first step in that, says Taffer, is a redesigned sound system hung on mounts, which keeps the bass from coming through the walls.

Brandon Klintworth, a Raleigh landscaper who owns Cashmere and who requested the show’s help, was described by Taffer as a “really good guy” in serious financial trouble because of the bar’s mismanagement.

“With these bar rescues, I really take that seriously,” Taffer said. “When I look into somebody’s eyes and they’re in trouble, then it becomes personal. … It becomes almost a vendetta.”

Taffer says the manager’s drunken behavior is captured on hidden cameras placed in the bar by the show and will be shown when the episode airs.

A crew from “Bar Rescue” has been at Cashmere all week evaluating the scene and making decisions about how to transform the business.

The Cashmere employees knew they were finalists for a makeover but didn’t know if they had been selected until Taffer walked through the door Tuesday night.

Before it was Cashmere, the Glenwood Avenue location was occupied by the George, a tapas restaurant and wine bar. Before that, it was April and George, an upscale wine bar and art gallery. Cashmere took over the spot in the summer of 2009. The Cashmere website advertised DJ dance parties and ladies night drink specials.

In the most recent review of Cashmere, a patron who identified herself as an N.C. State student gave Cashmere 1 star, complaining of overpriced drinks served in plastic cups and tips added to credit card bills without authorization. The most recent review before that described the bar as “only ok if you are enough drinks in that you do not care anymore.”

Taffer can’t give away details of Cashmere’s transformation but says the concept is different.

“We’re doing something very unique,” he said. “Actually, something I’ve never done before – and never seen before. It’s going to be high-energy, reasonably upscale … really nice, energetic nightclub. But the way we’re presenting the entertainment is extremely unique.”

Taffer has also brought in a chef to develop a small-plate menu and a mixology team to improve drinks. The changes are paid for by the show and its sponsors.

The “Bar Rescue” team spent last week filming the makeover of Characters Quarters, a bar and grill in Garner.

That restaurant’s owner, Charlie Alexander, said that even though the week of filming was stressful, he couldn’t be happier with the results.

“The whole crew was warm and friendly,” Alexander said. “Jon Taffer was really concerned with us as people. And I think I’m a pretty good judge of character.”

Cashmere was closed Friday, but a reveal party, which is open to the public, is planned for late Saturday night.

Staff writer Kyle Jahner contributed to this report.

Cain: 919-829-4579


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