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Panic Room Caution: High Volume Bar

PANIC, DON'T PANIC: "I'm just here to punch Jon Taffer in the face!" says the guy in line. The 30-year-old music venue Tonic Lounge is being filmed for the terrifyingly awful cable show Bar Rescue, which Taffer hosts. Except it isn't the Tonic anymore. Glowing above the sidewalk is a yellow-and-black sign that reads Panic Room Caution: High Volume Bar (3100 NE Sandy Blvd., 238-0543, tonicloungeportland.com). It is, truly, the worst sign in Portland—already a citywide landmark of bad taste. Two weeks after the show filmed, the new coat of gray slate paint inside the bar is already peeling in places—it's been rebranded from its former retro-luxe red walls to go with the loose theme of "place of last resort." Bars agree to appear on these shows to maybe get a few things repaired, but instead the Bar Rescue people installed four tiled flat-screen TVs—which now go unwatched, although one of the cooks jokes about using the screens to play YouTube. The aging sound system was left alone, in favor of a useless lighting stack that presumably looked good on TV. But the lights are on four-month lease; they'll get repoed after the show airs. Panic Room Caution: High Volume Bar also got a new—unnecessary, says the bartender—Panic Room Caution: High Volume Bar-branded point-of-sale system. The bar is hoping it can sell it to get money for needed repairs. The new cocktails—gross concoctions made with sponsored liquors—go unordered. Bar Rescue removed food items that the bar (and patrons) wanted to keep, so the bar is quietly bringing them back. Instead, the show added a weird metal prison cafeteria-tray gimmick called the Ration ($10.95), with Hungry Man-style Salisbury steak, soggy corn on the cob, Buffalo wings, mashed taters, salad and a really nice blondie cookie bar. It's like the last meal of a Texas inmate—and again, the kitchen is already trying to find ways to fix it, maybe by spicing the steak so it doesn't taste like "grandpa food." Bar Rescue will reportedly come next for Bossanova Ballroom. In the meantime, support the poor people at the new Panic Room Caution: High Volume Bar. Because they invited the devil Jon Taffer in the front door, but the devil done fucked them.