Hot Water served in California ‘Bar Rescue’

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Installing a commercial hot water system is rarely an easy task. Each business has its own distinct challenges:

Setups and infrastructure are different. The amount of hot water a business needs varies. Commercial building rules must be closely followed. Oh, and if the installation is not performed properly, the system may not work or, worse, fail prematurely.

Now, add the pressure of a can’t-miss deadline, a looming inspection that has to be approved and television cameras recording every move of the installation.

Jason Wandrey and his team at Cal-West Construction never choose to work under these circumstances, but this was an unusual project. This renovation would be featured on SPIKE TV’s Bar Rescue.

For those who have never seen the docu-reality series “Bar Rescue,” here’s how it works: In each episode, host Jon Taffer, a nightlife consultant who has started and flipped more than 600 bars, revamps a struggling bar business.

In this episode, Taffer’s team embarked on making over The Tradewinds, a neighborhood establishment in charming, downtown Cotati, California, near Sonoma wine country. As part of The Tradewinds transformation, “Bar Rescue” sought to expand food service capabilities, which requires more food preparation space, more cleaning area and more hot water.

Wandrey, president of Santa Rosa, California-based Cal-West General Construction, Inc., agreed to perform the kitchen upgrades, which would have to be completed in a tight timeframe to match the show’s production schedule. The bar would close on Thursday and need to be ready for customers on Saturday evening.

With 120 minutes to go before a scheduled inspection with the health department, his contractors had completed installing new sinks and connected the existing water heater to the system. But they ran into a problem.


“The existing 50-gallon natural gas hot water system was functioning, but it couldn’t keep up with new demand, and we had none of the parts and pieces you need for a water heater installation,” Wandrey said. “The challenge was that the health inspector was coming in two hours, and we had to have their approval so the bar could reopen.”

Acting fast, the team specified a commercial water heater to support The Tradewind’s two three-pot sinks, one two-pot sink, a dish washer and bathroom sinks. Wandrey chose a commercial gas State Water Heaters ForceTM 90+, a light-duty power direct vent heater with 96 percent thermal efficiency and a rapid recovery rate.

During the accelerated but smooth installation, Cal-West easily upgraded the gas line from ½-inch to a ¾-inch supply line to feed the 100,000 BTU input into the tank. The water heater fit in the location, and there was no conflict with sizing the pipe.

The 50-gallon Force 90+ is designed to generate a constant flow of 4 gallons per minute, more than enough hot water for this bar. It’s an ideal option for small businesses looking to save space and reduce energy costs.

“They pulled a rabbit out of their hat at the last minute when they showed up with a new water heater,” Wandrey said. “It was an extreme circumstance, but our crew kept a clear head and pushed through to get it done.”

The water heater upgrade didn’t make the director’s cut, but it has made a difference for management and employees providing hot water for cleaning dishes, glassware and cutlery.

The food service program made possible by the Force 90+ has helped The Tradewinds increase the bar’s sales by 25 percent, according to Bar Rescue.

Eric Loria, one of The Tradewinds owners, told cameras: “I feel more like a proud owner than I’ve ever felt.”

The Tradewinds
Cotati, California

Products Used:
· State Water Heaters ForceTM 90+
· 50-gallon commercial gas light-duty power direct vent heater
· 96 percent thermal efficiency
ENERGY STAR® qualified
Helical internal heat exchanger for maximum heat transfer and energy savings
· Commercial-grade glass lining, protected by two anode rods
· Uniform Energy Factor of 0.88
· Rapid recovery rate of 129 gallons per hour (90°F temperature rise)
· 6-year limited warranty
· Meets Ultra-Low NOx emission requirements

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