Piratz Tavern in downtown Silver Spring reopened Thursday without any remnants of Corporate Grill & Bar, a vision of reality TV show “Bar Rescue,” which renovated the tavern in February from its original pirate theme into a corporate theme in 36 hours.
Owners Tracy and Juciano Rebelo were greeted with relieved long-time supporters and pirate enthusiasts who said they found the corporate makeover uncharacteristic of the essence of Silver Spring.
“I’m excited,” said Silver Spring resident Vanessa Terzaghi who dined with her 8-year-old daughter, Kayora, and friend Philip McLeod. “I think [the makeover] has been a wake-up call to realize that some of these independent restaurants really do rely on their clientele.”
The reopening wasn’t a “grand celebration” or anything big, Tracy said, but the tavern still filled with customers decked in pirate costumes who enjoyed good company and steak on a stone (filet mignon which diners cook themselves), peri peri chicken and of course, grog.
Silver Spring resident Captain Headbone, who declined to give his real name, has been coming here since the early beginnings of Piratz Tavern. He said he was “thrilled” about the reopening. “I’ve taken vacations here. [It’s] like coming home.”
Due to financial struggles and the desire to increase profit, the Rebelos had hoped that Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” and its host, Jon Taffer, would give their 5-year-old restaurant a facelift and attract more clients. However, when their pirate décor were replaced with framed office posters and notepads, the owners were outraged.
“[Bar Rescue] did the polar opposite of rescuing,” Tracy said.
The tavern, which was opened only during Thursdays and the weekends during March, has been slowly bringing their beloved bar back and getting rid of everything “Bar Rescue” put in.
Back to its regular hours (opened at noon Tuesday-Sunday and closed on Mondays; Sunday brunch will return on April 29), the tavern now has a fresh look. The corporate gray and yellow paint are covered with splashes of red and white. The dull high-top tables and stools are gone; in its place are wooden chairs and handmade wooden tables crafted by Juciano Rebelo. A new pulley bench, also handmade by Juciano, sits against one wall of the restaurant. The walls have yet to be decorated with swords and skulls, but it will happen soon, Tracy said.
Piratz Tavern was noted for its eccentric and family-friendly ambience. Terzaghi and Kayora enjoyed the kid’s corner near the entrance which supplied children with movies and books. Unfortunately, the play area will not be returning, Tracy said, but children can still enjoy gold coins, fake tattoos, coloring books and birthday parties.
A revised menu, which is still in the works, will include new appetizers such as spiced shrimp and specials from new chef Jason Herron, or “Da Cook,” Tracy said.
To balance the high cost of the original bison burger, a simple lean hamburger will be offered on the new menu. The Rebelos are also planning to create a bar at the front of the restaurant and add draft beer to their tab – something “Bar Rescue” was supposed to help with, but instead, brought a “smart bar” machine that turned out to be illegal because the owners did not have a license to use it.
Despite the unpopularity of the corporate theme and the “many of tens of thousands of dollars” the Rebelos spent to get their pirate bar back, the “local support has been absolutely incredible,” Tracy said. “It’s brought us all closer together.”