Restaurant Revisited: Oleander Bar & Grill

by in Shows, October 17th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible
For Kelli Truman and Abby Grabow, owners of Oleander Bar & Grill in Olean, N.Y., Robert Irvine’s visit to their restaurant was a much-needed effort to save the business they opened just six months earlier. This mother-daughter duo needed Robert’s help to transform the dark dining room into a comfortable space, rethink their tired menu and improve their strained relationship if Oleander were to have any chance at lasting success. We checked in with Abby a few months after Oleander’s Restaurant: Impossible overhaul to see how the business has been doing since Robert left.

In the first two weeks after the renovation, Oleander saw sales increase nearly 50 percent.

The restaurant’s updated decor has been well received by diners who “love the fresh, clean, modern look of the design,” Abby says. She also notes that “the serious burger, shrimp tempura and crab bisque are the best-selling items that Robert added” to Oleander’s revamped menu.

Though Jaye no longer works at the restaurant, Abby says that “the staff that remains is very loyal and everyone has been working together to rebuild business.”

Looking back on the transformation, Abby admits that “the food costing lesson was perhaps the most beneficial part of this entire experience.” Since Robert left, she has been following “the new inventory system to sell off the majority of the excess bar inventory.”

Abby believes that being on Restaurant: Impossible has helped improve her relationship with her mom, Kelli, who has accepted additional responsibilities at Oleander. “The show taught us that communication is everything,” Abby says, “and that even if the restaurant closed, we are family forever.” She tells us that they are now “are much more effective at compromising and finding a middle ground.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Valley Inn (October 10)
Whistle Stop (October 3)
The Maple Tree Cafe (September 26)
Michele’s (September 19)
Paliani’s Restaurant (September 12)
Frankie’s (September 5)
Gusanoz (August 29)
Stella’s (August 8)
Italian Village (August 1)
Zandi’s (July 25)
The Main Dish (July 18)
Longbranch Steak and Seafood (July 11)
Horton’s Kids (June 13)
Pollard’s (May 30)
University Grill (May 23)
Ristorante Barolo (May 16)
Pappas (May 9)
Mama Lee’s (May 2)
Pelican Grill (April 25)
Valley View (March 14)

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Comments (241)

  1. Angela Marie says:

    As a frequent customer of the Oleander, I am saddened to see that after all the effort was put into re-doing this restaurant/bar, it is nearly empty every time we are there. What happened to all of the supporters who flooded the place after the episode aired last year? The people that work there are extremely friendly and go out of their way to try and please, and half the people aren't even leaving tips! Shame on you… If you are out and about, make sure to stop in and at least order an appetizer and drink. I think RI hurt this business more than helped it. How sad!

    • UncaYimmy says:

      Supporters? I don't "support" any restaurants. They EARN my business. Any business who thinks about people "supporting" them is doomed.

    • misswendee says:

      It's funny you mentioned that. I've often wondered if most of the "support" drummed up at the re-openings is simply to be a part of the show and to see/meet Robert Irvine. Not that that's a bad thing, I would do the same if I had the chance. But if I didn't go back to the restaurant, at least once more, AFTER the re-opening I'd feel like a real jerk. Kind of defeats the purpose, you know?

    • Burning mad diner says:

      No they hurt themselves, my wife and daughter and I went there. I gave them a cash tip and put the rest on my credit card. Only to find out charged my card for almost $13 more than my bill. Hope my bank fixes this, if not I'll get in touch with call for action. Maybe being on the news for over charging credit cards will help their business! NOT!!!!

    • Richard long says:

      Shame on y'all !!!!

  2. Carol says:

    I see the Oleander is up for sale now, too bad but it really didnt bounce back

  3. Burning mad diner says:

    I am an avid watcher of the food network. I took my wife and daughter to the southern tier of Buffalo, NY to see the folage on the 22nd of October. We ended up in Olean. So we decided to have dinner at the Oleander. All I can say is buyer beware. Also DO NOT PAY WITH CREDIT! We ordered only three meals. First, it took over 25 minutes to get our food. Second, try to get a refill on your soft drink. Finally it came time to pay. I handed the guy a cash tip, and said to put our meals on my credit card. When handed to receipt, I put a zero in the tip section as I gave him a cash tip. Under total amount I wrote $34.56 which is what our bill was. Came home and entered the $34.56 in my register for my bank account. Only to see on my statement the Oleander put in for $47.04…. $12.48 more then our bill. Having my bank do a credit discribency on it, and waiting to hear. But believe me, I will contact them about this if it is not fixed by the bank. This place was empty when we were there. I can see why, seems they rip people off.

  4. @VickieDavis says:

    On November 17 at 12:01pm they posted that this would be their last day.

    "We would like to thank everyone for their support these last few years. Today, is The Oleander Bar & Grill's last day of business. Come in one more time for specials on beer and food. Cheers, See you there!"

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