Jon Taffer to Keynote NAID 2018 Conference


An international celebrity, highly sought-after hospitality industry

guru, and creator, executive producer and star of Spike TV’s

number-one show, Bar Rescue, most people know Jon Taffer as a

larger-than-life television personality who takes a no-holds-barred

approach to helping hotels, restaurants and bars reach their full

potential. What most might not know, however, is that Taffer’s

impressive industry experience dates back nearly four decades—

and includes everything from consulting for hundreds of thousands

of properties and Fortune 500 companies, to creating what industry

experts call “the greatest nightclub in the world,” to changing the

game of football for its fans, forever.

It all dates back to 1978, when Taffer accepted a position as the

general manager of Troubadour, one of Hollywood’s most famous

music venues, where an artist by the name Elton John was first

discovered. In 1979, after news of his success as Troubadour’s

general manager made its way throughout the area, West

Hollywood’s iconic Barney’s Beanery recruited Taffer to serve as its

lead bartender and manager. It was here, behind Barney’s coveted

bar, that Taffer fell in love with the bar industry for good. In 1980,

with a newfound love for the hospitality industry, Taffer left behind

a sunny Hollywood for his home state of New York, where he

accepted a position as the regional manager for Beefsteak Charlie’s.

As part of the new gig, Taffer underwent a 26-week kitchen training

program, which became his first official introduction to the food

business and forever changed the way he looked at restaurants.

Taffer eventually made his way to Grossinger’s Resort and

Country Club in the sprawling Catskill Mountains of Liberty, New

York. Originally recruited to be the property’s food and beverage

director, Taffer was swiftly promoted, earning a position as resident

manager. With 1,700 rooms, the world’s first-ever snow-making

machine, and a venue that housed world- renowned boxing matches

all to its name, there was no resort in the world at the time that offered an all-encompassing experience quite like Grossinger’s—

and Taffer’s hands-on approach to management and keen eye for

effective entertainment proved to be crucial to the unprecedented

success the property saw.

In 1983, Taffer received a call from a headhunter who was looking to

open “the world’s greatest nightclub” in Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Taffer succeeded in

creating a club that forever changed the nightlife game, all with the

help of a gentleman by the name of Leon Altemose—together, they

opened what quickly became the area’s most iconic and coveted

hangout: Pulsations Nightclub, a 15,000 square-foot venue boasting

10 levels, 11 bars, and 12 VIP hotel rooms.

The best part of the larger-than-life venue, though? A $400,000

custom-built robot by the name of Pulsar. Every night, a massive

spaceship (27 feet in diameter, to be exact), would fly over the

packed dance floor on an I-beam and open its door, out of which—

amongst a haze of fog and state-of-the-art lighting—Pulsar the

Robot would “levitate” down to the crowd, at which point club-goers

would take a spin on the robot, dancing on its base as it made it way

around the wide-eyed room. The remarkable nightly occurrence

quickly became a global hit, with nightclubs around the world

attempting, without success, to recreate the awe-inspiring scene.

Pulsar’s popularity grew so much so that producers on Rocky IV

even had a replica of the robot built for the hit box office flick.

Taffer eventually left behind the greatest nightclub in the world

(and the beloved Pulsar) to join a hotel management company

in Chicago. As part of this role, he consulted for 28 luxury-brand

hotels and broke countless hospitality industry records. His most

notable industry-changing contribution was the creation of Rooms

Inventory Management Systems (RIMS), a formulaic approach to

hotel-room pricing, which, to this day, is considered by experts to be

one of the greatest contributions to the hospitality industry ever.   Taffer eventually decided it was time to start his own consulting

firm and, in 1986, opened the doors to Taffer Management (TMG) in

Downers Grove, Chicago. During this time, hotel restaurants simply

couldn’t compete with the quality of product and service freestanding

restaurants offered, and Taffer made it his mission to turn

this trend around. Under the TMG brand, Taffer consulted for over

300 businesses in 30 countries across the world, with a heavy focus

on creating hotel food-and-beverage operations that could compete

with their free- standing counterparts.

As part of this role, Taffer conceived all of the food-and-beverage

operations for Hyatts in Asia, Australia and Jerusalem. Thanks

to Taffer’s hands-on approach to management and invaluable

expertise, restaurants across the globe saw revenue skyrocket

under his guidance—JJ’s in Hong Kong, for example, became the

highest revenue-producing-per-square-foot bar in the history of

Hyatt hotels. Taffer also became the first-ever consultant to put

franchised restaurants in Holiday Inns, Sheraton and other hotel

brands. Taffer’s training programs developed for TGI Friday’s

are still a centerpiece of the brand. With his hands in successful

operations all over the world, it was

during these years that Taffer gained

unprecedented insight and familiarity

with Asian and European Markets,

turning him into the global industry

expert he is today.

With pleas for his international

industry expertise coming in from

all over the country, Taffer decided

to open TMG offices in Minneapolis

in 1989. He immediately took control

of the coveted Target Center—which

was then the home of the Minnesota

Timberwolves—where he managed all

restaurants and 68 suites. He spent

the following years opening two

restaurants in Mall of America, and

opening and operating Mystic Lake

Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota, the

Golden Nickel Casino in Wisconsin

and a number of other grand casinos

all throughout the Midwest— bringing

the glitz and glamour once only

reserved for the country’s coast,


The following years saw countless

theme restaurants and successful hotel operations conceived,

opened and operated by Taffer and his TMG team (at one point,

Taffer owned and operated 17 different successful establishments

at once). By the early 1990s, Taffer managed to turn the iconic

Rainforest Cafe into the most successful restaurant IPO offering in

history. During this time, he won the Operator of the Year award,

the Visionary Leader Award and the Property of the Year award

(not once—but twice). He also worked to create the Nightclub and

Bar Show (NCB), the industry’s largest convention held annually in

Las Vegas. He remained on the NCB board for over 30 years and

served as president of the NCB for six years.

In the mid-90’s, Taffer took his expertise to the country’s favorite

playing field, where he served on the advisory board for NFL

Enterprises and changed the game with one Earth-shattering idea:

the creation of Sunday Ticket. The idea allowed fans from all over

the country to finally watch from the comfort of their couch as

their favorite teams took the field each Sunday afternoon. To this

day, Taffer is known amongst NFL executives and football fans alike

as “The Godfather of the Sunday Ticket.”  Throughout his decades of globetrotting and industry-shaping,

Taffer began giving internationally acclaimed keynote speeches,

which, by the mid-1980’s, became the most well- known and

sought-after appearances in the industry. It was at one of these

appearances when the idea for Bar Rescue was sparked, after a

fan approached him and told him he should consider being on

television. It was that simple statement that changed Taffer’s career


He immediately got to work shooting a sizzle reel and pitching his

idea for what was tentatively titled On the Rocks to four major

studios. Within 4 days, Taffer had offers as large as his personality

on the table from all four studios. He accepted an offer from Spike

TV, and On the Rocks quickly became what is today the network’s

hit television show Bar Rescue, a reality show that spotlights

Taffer as he saves failing bars from looming closure, using his four

decades of unprecedented industry experience and trademarked

Reaction Management strategy to consult on everything from menu

design to cost management.

Bar Rescue premiered on Spike TV on June 11, 2011 and, by its

sophomore season, had climbed its way to the top of Spike’s

rankings, securing its spot as the number-one show on the network.

The show’s unprecedented success led to the network increasing

the length of Bar Rescue to 40 episodes in its third season and 50

episodes in its fourth season, which over 91 million viewers tuned

in to watch. In March of 2015, Bar Rescue surpassed a coveted 100 episodes—a milestone that’s extremely rare for a reality show

of its kind. Currently in its fifth season, Bar Rescue is on track

to exceed 150 episodes in 2017, which experts would argue is

nearly impossible. Under Taffer’s lead, the show has become a

workhorse for Spike TV, accounting for nearly 20 percent of its total

programming minutes and becoming the network’s number-two

ad-revenue generator, having brought in over $39 million national

advertising dollars to Spike TV in 2016 alone.  When Taffer isn’t in front of the camera on Bar Rescue, you can

find him sharing his industry knowledge with audiences around

the globe. He’s been featured in Forbes Magazine, Rolling Stone,

Vice Magazine, Inked Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business

Insider, Bar Business Magazine and The New York Times, among a

number of other prominent international media outlets, and has

appeared as a guest on shows ranging from Rachael Ray to Jimmy

Kimmel Live! to Good Morning America.

A coveted keynote speaker and chairman of both Taffer Dynamics

Inc. and Taffer Media Inc., Taffer spends what little off-camera time

he has as a key strategic consultant for the National Restaurant

Association, Anheuser Busch, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits,

and Diageo. He is one of only six inductees into the Nightclub Hall

of Fame, and is the only American to hold the United Kingdom’s

“Pub Master” distinction. In 2016, he was inducted into the worldfamous

New York Friars Club, a private club in New York City whose

membership is composed of world- renowned comedians, awardwinning

actors and international celebrities. In 2017, Taffer received

the first-ever Dom Perignon Award of Excellence from the William F.

Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada,

Las Vegas.

Hear from Taffer in person as he guides attendees in wise business

practices as the Keynote speaker for NAID 2018 Conference & Expo

in Nashville, TN (April 13-15, 2018).

About the Author

Profile of Taffer is compliments of Keppler Speakers. Real

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  1. Taffer is great. Love his brutal honesty and compassion for helping those in trouble…as long as they’re willing to change to succeed! Wish I could attend NAID to watch him in real life.

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