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‘Bar Rescue’ Comes to Jack’s Ale House in Sunnyside

Aug. 26, 2014 By Christian Murray

The Spike TV show “Bar Rescue” is currently shooting at a Sunnyside establishment.

Jon Taffer, the tough-talking nightlife expert who is the star of the show, is at Jack’s Ale House at 39-46 Skillman Avenue this week providing the owners with advice as to how they should maximize its potential.

Bar Rescue is a show that helps bar owners bring back their establishment from the brink. Taffer and his crew tend to be mercilessly tough—tackling everything from the perfect pour to the height of the bar stools.

Jack’s Ale House is owned by Sunnyside resident Brian McGowan and his two brothers, Jimmy and John. The three are all firefighters (although John has retired) and have deep roots in Sunnyside.

Jack’s Ale House was formerly known as the Firewater Inn, which the McGowans’ late father Jack opened in 1986.

The McGowan’s changed the name of the bar in honor of their late father Jack when they revamped the bar in 2013.

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Always a great spot and everyone is always welcome. There are a lot of people hating out there. Why rag on the regulars? They keep the place going!!

47 street

What happened to being an American sports bar?????? i was there for the reveal and glad brothers r working together but its a FireBuff bar now which would workout better down by the World Trade Center where you can get all the tourists in. Hey Taffer get some shorter camera men so you can look taller on TV

Lala luv u

David I , have you ever gone into this bar? U can’t wait to see it’s demise? How long have you lived in Sunnyside?
You hate having a bar on your corner, move! You knew it was there when you moved in, didn’t you?
The guys who own this place, are FDNY. They run into burning buildings, when your running out. They put their lives at risk to insure no one is left in the building. Do you want to see their scars, skin graphs, or burns. Do you remember 9/11. Do not hope for their demise, they do so much for NYC.

P.S. Everyone knows having a car in NYC is wack, take the 7 train, the bus, bike, walk or cab it. But if you want a parking space so badly, rent one. There, problem solved.


I’m a Sunnyside local for past 40 years. But whether I’m a local or not is immaterial.

Ask any successful business man, and it comes down to this… location, location, location.

It’s not an ideal location. The potential to make revenue is significantly lower than other spots. Considering the high overhead — rent, taxes, BID assessment, payroll, supplies, you need to sell a lot of product and service just to meet overhead. And sunnyside rent is rising. Rent on Queens Blvd is rising. Used to be 60/sqft, now hovering around 80/sqft. That means, 8,000 to 15,000/mo in rent alone. Only way that bar is going to survive at that location is to have an USP (unique selling point) and their rent is dirt cheap around 20/sqft.

Doesn’t make sense to kill yourself, working your ass off for little revenue. Majority of the revenue is going to the landlord and employees. Move elsewhere with better location. More foot traffic = more potential revenue and overall lower stress for owners.

Pete North

Yeah bad location because they can’t go anywhere outside of a 2 block radius of their home. get out and live a little.

Yeah yeah Yeah

The people saying bad location are obviously not from Sunnyside. There has been a bar since before you were born. So shut the f up.

43rd & 43rd

When it was the Firewater Inn, it was a major eyesore and detriment to the neighborhood. I lived nearby and I couldn’t tell you how often I got woken up by drunks fighting, screaming, and singing their way down the street, revving their motorcycles and cars, you name it.

After I moved a few blocks away, it became Jack’s, which certainly looks much nicer on the outside. Hope the clientele was cleaned up as well.


Feels like a cop bar. Walked in there once, packed with Middle aged men that glared at us. Walked right back out. crappy spot.


@Pirates vs. Robots or anyone in neighborhood

Does anyone have information about tomorrow? What time we would have to be there to visit for the relaunch? Can anyone go or is it a private event?

I am in Astoria but am a huge Bar Rescue fan so I would like to check it out.

CiCi Del

Last time I was there was a couple of years ago. I got a good vibe in there. Good happy hour. Decent bar tenders. And buybacks. Cannot speak of the situation now but that was back in 2012. It’s off the main route of the bar row on Queens Blvd. Maybe not a bad thing.

David I

My problem is not with the two spaces in front of their swinging wooden fence door… it’s that they routinely are taking up an additional 1-2 spaces on either side. Harassing your neighbors by writing on their cars is NOT good business. And again, my sense is, if the space is rightfully yours call to get me towed. But they can’t so they use these intimidation tactics. For whatever reason the Firewater Inn was never this loud, Jack’s Ale House has not been a good neighbor and I know I am not the only one living on this street that will relish in seeing this establishment fail.

Concern X-Sunnysider

This is a cool place. Tons of Fat Girls running around!!!! My kind of Bar!!!!!

all that you cant leave behind

its a cool place , wings , beer , NFL sunday ticket . all good , and within walking distance …

Silk from Virginia

I use to bartend there when it was the Firewater. I can’t believe Bar Rescue is actually there. The McGowans are a great family and I hope staffer can help them out. Next time I’m back visiting I will check it out.

Good Luck guys


All I can say is, that’s the vibe I felt when I went there. Saying “one of the guys from the firehouse” was incorrect. I don’t know that anyone who was there was a firefighter, I just got the vibe that everyone knew everyone else (the place wasn’t very full), we weren’t ignored by any of the staff, but we weren’t made to feel particularly welcome either.

Maybe it was just the day/time I went. Who knows. They contacted Bar Rescue, so clearly they are looking for ways to bring in more customers. My suggestion is to make the place welcoming to families. There are tons of parents with kids in this neighborhood, and if you can get them in, and make them feel welcome, I think they could be profitable. That way they make more money during the day/early evening hours, then the “regulars” can take over at night.

I sincerely hope the bar, with whatever makeover they do, is successful.

A Local

I went there once. I was one of three people in there and I was put off because it was cash only. So I threw some cash on the bar. About four beers later I watched the bartender palm a $20 of my money off the bar. Instead of confronting her about how pathetic she was I left and will never go back. You want to turn your bar around start treating the patrons with some respect.


Yeah i’ve been there numerous times, and I would consider it a locals bar only in the fact that… well… everyone there is from the neighborhood. But thats the feel for most of the bars in the area (and one of the things I love about the neighborhood)

I never had an issue not feeling like one of the “fire fighters”. They’ve always been super friendly.

Hipster nation

Hey is Billy and Timmy still there? The bar was always crowded when they worked. Always had a great time with them.


I agree with @EMTDDD, this is a great bar for the summer! I hope they’ll do something to the inside to make it a bit cozier for the cooler months.

I don’t get a “locals only” vibe from them at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. They’re always very friendly, they’re generous with buy-backs and on two occasions, staff has given the patrons some yummy nibbles to try on the house.

I always feel welcome and have seen everyone from locals, to young professionals, to families, to old-timers 🙂 I hope the show does great things for these guys without ruining the warm vibe the place has now!

neighborhood girl xo

This bar is a neighborhood bar, if you get the feel “if you’re not from the firehouse you’re not welcome” vibe you have clearly not been in there. Although the three brothers who own it are firemen, I would say 90% of the clientele are not firemen. Also, they are very welcoming to people who are not from the neighborhood, their Sunday day bartender for their first year lived an hour away and didn’t know where anyone was from. I have been their plenty of times without being friends or even knowing the bartender and feeling completely welcomed. The McGowan’s have owned this bar since the 80’s and just need some revamping on Jacks, so the location has worked for years! I think a lot of people are remembering the Frat Boy Vibe from Firewater which did not transfer over when Jacks opened. Support your local establishments.
And the complaining about the parking? 1. They owned the parking garage and had every right to take it down and the 2 spots on the street, that you probably parked in, is where there parking garage was which is why they say no parking. If you were in their bar or even were a customer I bet they wouldn’t care since they allow customers to park there. Also, Those spots were never open to park in when the garage was there so you can’t take something away that wasn’t there to begin with. && 2. You’re in Queens, go park under the 7 and walk :]

This is a great bar, that I love going to and have a great time every time I’m there. I love Saturday Nights, and the events. Bar rescue is going to fix up its imperfections, and I can’t wait!


Those who say “terrible location, will never last” clearly don’t know that there has been a bar here for at least 40 years. So your insight is lacking.
As for the parking spaces, the area in the rear used to be a small parking area and garage. Look at the 2012 Street View. So, I suppose the curb cut is still there.


Too bad the FDNY pulled out of their fleet depot plans. This place would have been sitting on a gold mine.


Yup love this place. Can bring my dog with a few good friends and chill during the summer eves in a nice large space. Food is pretty good as well and very cheap! Glad they are doing the show. They will get good compensation and a brand new bar, not to mention all the exposure. The amount of people waiting to get in tonight was wrapped around the corner.


Sunnyside Baby also mentioned, and I totally agree, they bar has a very “locals only,” “we dont want you here if you arent one of the guys from the firehouse” feel to it. At least that is the vibe I get.


This is hands down my favorite summer bar in Sunnyside (maybe in NYC). The backyard is amazing. Just what you need for a quiet night.

Pirates vs Robots


The guy outside with the walkie talkie and the earpiece today at around 2:00pm definitely said the Stress Test was tonight and mentioned “If you want to come back around, like, 8:00? Maybe more like 8:30 honestly, but yeah, you can come in, have some drinks…”

There were two other ladies who stopped at the same time as I did to ask how long the bar would be closed, and he also told them that the big unveiling would probably be Friday night but it will be closed until then.


I like the place as it is. Friendly service, good choices of beer, cheap drink specials and they do “buy backs”! The “beer garden” could use some sprucing up. I only ate a burger there. It wasn’t so good. But I go there to drink and I like it better than most places. The location doesn’t bother me. I live here. Nothing in Sunnyside is that far when you live here.


I’m so excited for these guys! I have been a long time friend and supporter of this bar and these guys! I wish them all the success!

Pirates vs Robots

I just walked past to try and find out when the big debut of the newly renovated bar will be. The PA told me that tonight is the Stress Test (the pre-renovation, pre-retraining night where the host observes a normal night of business and shouts a lot) and they’re asking people to come down at 8:30 for that. So if you want to be on national TV talking crap about a local establishment, tonight is your night!

The bar should have their big “grand reopening” in about three days, he said, so likely Friday night. I’ll swing by again on my way home from work later this week and post any more concrete info I can get.

Usually this show features really terrible, unsanitary, absolutely appalling bars with greedy, asshole managers and scuzzy, trashy bar staff. As far as I know, the owners of Jack’s are nice, friendly, respected Sunnyside residents, so I’m wondering what the show is going to pick on them about…. I hope they don’t paint a false picture and vilify these apparently quite lovely guys.


We had a great time at the Elvis show, lots of fun with family & friends!!!!!!!!!!!!! We wish you all the good luck & success with this adventure. Arleen & Howie


Dope little bar with a mini beer garden in the back. Like to go here to get away from the crowds on queens boulevard.

David I

I can’t wait until this place goes out of business. They have decided to take 4 parking spots on 40th street. They had the gall to actually write on my car windows NO PARKING HERE. I followed up with the NYPD and they were put in their place. If there was really NO PARKING there you’d have me towed, but you can’t because you don’t own the damn street.

Awful establishment for the neighborhood.

Sunnyside baby

I went there a couple of times and there was a very “locals only” vibe from the bartenders and patrons. It was an unwelcoming environment so we didn’t return. It’s a little out of the way but they seemed to have a lot to offer so I would go back if the atmosphere changed.


Bit tough? Location is horrible. There’s no foot or car traffic in the area. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it has. Gotta go where there’s heavy foot traffic.

Rich Klein

It’s a great show. It also takes a lot of courage for ANY business owner to allow someone to come in and point out imperfections — but even more courage when it’s broadcast to the world. I had a really nice customer service experience at Jack’s earlier this year when I was shooting photos of one of the musicians participating in the Sunnyside Bars Irish Music Festival. Rooting for Jack’s to succeed and know that the show’s host will help the owners.


I go there a lot actually, particularly in the summer. No frills food but cheap, good service.


The location is a bit tough, but I think they can turn it around. They need to serve food though, and make it more of a “restaurant and bar.” So much of the neighborhood is families with young kids. Make the bar inviting for them too.


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