Call it a reality TV reality check. A struggling valley bar turned to a TV show for help, but in the end, they say the show did more harm than good.
The reality show is called Bar Rescue, but the Tempe bar owners say it was more of a bar fail.
The owner of the heavy metal bar in Tempe says he gave permission for the show and its producers to do whatever they wanted.
But within 24 hours of the bar rehab, the owner says he was getting calls from the city with some serious concerns.
"I wanted something for retirement, for my kids to do on their own," says bar owner Francis Massimiano.
Francis Massimiano admits his Tempe bar called Rocky Point Cantina was struggling when a show called "Bar Rescue" first approached him about featuring his bar in an upcoming episode.
"What they offered in terms of changes and a new image sounded good so we took advantage of it and said sure."
The show, on the Spike TV network, claims to return struggling bars to the cash cows they once were by rehabbing and sometimes revamping the bars.
"They said, 'we know what we're doing, we've done this before, don't worry about it we're going to take care of it' but they didn't."
The show changed the name of the bar, the menu, the drinks, and repainted.
They make the changes and when do the problems begin?
"Immediately," says Massimiano.
The city of Tempe says the repaint triggered code enforcement, who found the work was done without a required development plan review. This led to further inspection which found other work was done without building permits. The owner's son points to the roof of the bar.
"I believe that was against code also because they put plastic pieces inserts in," says Jason Massimiano. "They put a fire pit or a BBQ pit out there so we could grill. It was against code, we had to get rid of that also."
But it wasn't just the show that allegedly did work without permits. Inspectors found building modifications were made without permits both before and after Massimiano bought the property in 2010. The repairs were going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"That's what put us under, that's what put us under."
Massimiano filed for bankruptcy. The bar closed 8 weeks after the taping of the show.
Still, the end of the show, which just aired a couple weeks ago, said: "Fran and Mary are enjoying retirement."
"If they had done the permitting correctly we'd still be in business."
In July the development review commission approved the color of the exterior of the building with a condition that a lime wash be added to mute the tones. Massimiano filed for bankruptcy in August.
We reached out to the show and production company but have not heard back.
'Bar Rescue' goes bad: Work permits were not obtainedMore>>