The late Waylon Jennings, for instance, famously made his bones at the now-historic country joint back in the early 1960s before eventually rocketing to stardom. His fellow Coolidge residents Duane Eddy and Lee Hazelwood, who later became icons themselves, were also regulars. Heck, a young Alice Cooper reportedly played the place early on in his music career.
Back in January, the Gallopin’ Goose added another prominent name to its list of celebrity visitors: reality TV show host Jon Taffer. That’s because the Coolidge mainstay, which originally opened in 1935, and its staff were being filmed for an episode of Spike TV’s popular program Bar Rescue.
And according to Gallopin’ Goose owner Scott Wohrman, the episode – which premieres on the cable channel on Sunday night – will feature a lot of the usual Bar Rescue-style drama that regular viewers of the show are accustomed to seeing.
In other words, screaming, browbeating, hurt feelings, and plenty of invectives being spewed.
“Filming it was fun [and] we had a good time doing it, but there were a few moments where it got pretty tense,” Wohrman says. “You know how the show is, [Taffer] comes in, yells and screams, he finds problems with things. The next day, everyone makes up and its all 'Kumbaya, let’s make this place better’ sort of thing. I will say this; they're making a TV show. It’s called Bar Rescue but they're about making gripping TV.”
And when it came to making Gallopin’ Goose’s episode, which is entitled “Raising Arizona," this involved delving into Wohrman’s personal life and all the drama between himself and his ex-wife, Stacey, over their failed marriage, issues with children, and some of his dalliances.
Here’s how the Spike TV website sums up the episode: “A saloon owner’s illicit affair produces a child and destroys both his marriage and the reputation of his bar. Taffer offers him the chance to save his business and reconcile with his ex-wife, who’s been raising the child as her own.”
Wohrman, who's owned the Gallopin' Goose since 2009, says he suspected that Bar Rescue’s producers would be more interested in such things when he agreed to be featured on the show.
“I knew going into it that they were going to use a lot of my personal life, as far as the show, and that's exactly what's happened,” he says. “In fact, it's become more about my personal life then the actual business.”
And while he’s come to terms with the fact that his personal affairs are about to be laid bare before a national viewing audience, he’s still a bit apprehensive.
“I will tell you I'm tripped out a bit on [the episode],” he says. “If you've seen the previews, you can see a lot of personal business that's about to air on national TV. And, like I said, I knew that going in and I've accepted it, but I can't help but feel anxious as well."
His ex-wife, who helps run the bar along with her former husband, had a comparatively better time with filming the episode.
“I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the whole time, but then I didn't get ripped on, so I'm curious what they'll do,” Stacey says. “I enjoyed meeting the crew and Jon Taffer. It was a positive experience. Once in a lifetime.”
One thing that Scott Wohrman isn’t trepidacious about is all the changes that the show’s producers made to the Gallopin’ Goose, which were largely cosmetic. They redid the joint’s bar area, for instance, including adding lighting and replacing the bar top. Meanwhile, the numerous booths were reupholstered, and the stage got spruced up and equipped with new lighting and rigging and a new music and video system.
One thing that wasn’t changed, however, was the place’s focus on country music. Unlike many other establishments featured on the show, Bar Rescue’s producers didn’t revamp the Gallopin’ Goose’s concept or give it a new name.
“I think they recognized the fact it’s been around since 1935 and it’s a bit of a historic landmark, which I explained to them,” Scott says.
Overall, he admits the changes weren’t too intrusive and only made the place better.
“A lot of customers that might not have been here for awhile have come in and said, ‘I don't see what they did,’ or ask, ‘Where's the changes?” Scott says. “And I think they're used to watching these Bar Rescue episodes where he comes in makes some drastic changes from the theme to the name. And what they did here was more of a face-lift. When they come in here, it's still the Goose, it's just new and improved.”
So was the experience of appearing on the show worth it, especially in light of having his personal life become fodder for reality television?
"Uh ... ask me Sunday night,” Scott says.