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Ryan Johnson, Published September 12 2013

‘Bar Rescue’ star Taffer helped transform Fargo’s Playmakers into The Hub

FARGO – Long before he was known for his tough love – sometimes minus the love – as the star of Spike TV’s hit reality show “Bar Rescue,” Jon Taffer was putting his stamp on the bar scene here.

The restaurant, bar and nightclub expert was brought to Fargo in 2007 to help guide the transformation of the former Playmakers complex into The Hub, with a variety of venues that still draw partiers and concertgoers today.

At the time, Taffer told a Forum reporter that the $2 million renovation and new identity for the Fargo entertainment facility was needed after it had struggled to make money since opening in 1991.

“Nothing had integrity,” he said in 2007 about Playmakers as The Hub prepared to open. “It had a sameness mentality.”

Taffer helped push for separate themed spaces at The Hub, each with its own identity to drum up business and fill the large building.

The Hub will unveil its newest space, the Wild Vine nightclub that’s taking over the House of Rock, tonight.

But the bruises the tough, no-nonsense Taffer dished out on those he worked with in Fargo seemingly haven’t healed yet.

The Forum contacted the owner and several managers of The Hub, as well as others associated with the business, but none would speak about Taffer’s time in Fargo.

Attempts to arrange an interview with Taffer through Spike TV’s press department also struck out.

But Taffer’s Twitter accounts does have a possible tidbit about the job that brought him to Fargo six years ago, well before he was known across the country for his aggressive style of helping failing bars find new success.

During an episode of “Bar Rescue” that premiered last year, Taffer said it was the second time he’d thrown in the towel during a gig. A fan took to Twitter, asking Taffer the first time he had to call it quits while trying to help a struggling business.

“Fargo, ND years ago,” Taffer replied, though he didn’t respond to a follow-up question from another Twitter user who asked which bar he was referring to.

The season finale of “Bar Rescue” will premiere on Spike at 8 p.m. Sunday following a marathon of rerun episodes that kick off at 10 a.m. The channel also will show eight episodes of the hour-long reality series beginning at 11 a.m. Monday.

“Bar Rescue” was picked up for a fourth season earlier this year, with 20 episodes slated to air in 2014. But fans will soon have two ways to get “Taffered.” The reality star announced recently that he’ll be a part of “Hungry Investors” along with chefs John Besh and Tiffany Derry.

The new show is scheduled to go into production this fall, and 10 episodes will air next spring, pitting two failing restaurants against each other to prove they should get a second chance.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587