Owner Rich Marinacci (far right), along with his sons, brother and bartenders are blindfolded prior to reveal. (Photo by Mount Dora Buzz)
Over three dozen crew members descended into the quaint, historic town of Mount Dora. Typically, film crews visit the town to film the well-known landmarks of the favorite tourist destination, but this shoot was different. Much different.
The Spike TV crew was documenting the transformation of Sidelines, a fledgling Mount Dora bar and restaurant, for an episode of a reality show.
The owners of the restaurant had applied to Bar Rescue, a show that provides expertise and renovations to bars on the brink of closing. The straight forward host, Jon Taffer, often dishes out harsh criticism to establishments on the brink of closing.
Taffer combines his keen observations with market research to develop changes to help make the restaurant profitable. The show’s various crews work feverishly for 36 hours to implement the plan, re-train (and stress out) the staff, change the menu, re-brand the business, and complete renovations. During those hours the back of the restaurant was littered with trailers and tents of makeshift workshops.
Then it was time for the big reveal.
The event lured well over a hundred residents and Bar Rescue fans to stand on the sidewalk for hours last night in front of the family-owned restaurant, as the production crew worked diligently to get the angles and footage required.
Bar Rescue's production designer Laura Rhoades inside Lake House.
Eventually, a large van rolled into the parking lot, with owner Rich Marinacci, family members, and employees inside, all blindfolded. Once their backs were to the restaurant they removed the blindfolds. Taffer peppered them with questions about their personal experience with the stressful process and alluded to their difficulties. All agreed it was a wake-up call.
Finally, it was time for the owners and employees to get a glimpse of Sidelines’ new exterior. The cheesy, bold colors were painted over with warmer, more sophisticated colors to match the restaurant’s new name and brand: Lake House.
The redesigned interior features warm, wood tones reflective of the residential feel Taffer sought, according to Laura Rhoades, the show’s production designer. The bar is wrapped in shiny corrugated metal and topped with a warm wood counter. Above the bar hang three large televisions. Sports team merchandise has been replaced with fishing decor and photos.
Before entering the restaurant, patrons were instructed to be very mindful of the many sizeable cameras and booms roaming the interior. Should a head come up against a camera, the head would surely lose. Customers were also told not to look straight into the camera lens or risk looking like a dork on national TV. Time will tell who didn’t heed the warning.
Once inside and seated, patrons watched as Taffer joked and mingled with guests while Marinacci worked the front of the house and the film crew buzzed around from one side of the restaurant to another throughout the night.
(See all the photos from Mount Dora's "Bar Rescue") The revamped menu features basic seafood, burgers, sandwiches, wings and salads at reasonable price points geared to the local market. The most intriguing items are the burger with butter-poached crabmeat and caramelized onions ($10.95), the hand-rolled soft pretzels ($5.95) and the spicy clam pizza ($13.95). The show’s mixologist also developed new cocktail recipes which were also reasonably priced.
Fans and patrons line the sidewalk waiting to be seated inside.
The dramatic transformation was met with unanimous awe and approval, and patrons were still enjoying the new vibe at 11 pm.
The next stop for the show’s crew is a Sanford bar in need of rescue. According to Spike TV, the episode’s air date has not been determined yet, but is expected for late summer or early fall. Mount Dora Buzz will let readers know as soon as it’s announced.
You can visit Lake House at 315 N. Highland Street in uptown Mount Dora.