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. ARC says:

    My visit there was much the same, slow service by a waitress that seemed like she had something better to do. Food was cold (both mine and my wifes). I had to ask for my check twice and then give my card to a different waiterss, all while like you said, the owner at the bar sucking on a beer. I will not go back nor will I recommend it to anyone.

  2. Melissa says:

    That is really sad that there are two comments on here about the owner drinking in the bar while the staff was so slow. She needs to realize what a bad example she's setting with her staff.

    • basil says:

      She don't care,why else would the owner be getting rat faced at the bar.Look at the whiney assed slob she has for a daughter,and shes so far in debt.I'm surprised she has not told the daughter to shove the place up her jackson.

  3. Melissa says:

    I'm glad Robert stepped in after 6 months. Most of the folks on this show wait way too long to ask for help.

  4. Ohio Chick says:

    I have to agree with Susu & tru: I used to like this show until Robert became this amateur psychologoist/family therapist. He may be qualified to redo menus and train cooks, perhaps even put his 2 cents worth in on the decor, but his insatiable need to 'fix' relationships has become boring and very stale. I think we'll stick to Hotel Hell, Kitchen Nightmare, and Restaurant Stakeout.

    • Earl says:

      The problem is that most of the time the real problem with these restaurants is the management. Fixing the decor and the menu isn't going to help in the long run, if they people running the show don't work together effecttively.

  5. susan says:

    I would like to see Robert revisit some of these places to see if they have made and kept changes he suggested.

  6. Bonny says:

    Not a "slam dunk success" at all. The place went back to its old unsuccessful ways…

  7. just curius says:

    John from the Manor is.or was it Jerry?

  8. alec says:

    I have watched this tv show several times and as mentioned in a previous post, there is a pattern that is followed show by show. Also, reference was made to another well known chef and show, that allots MUCH MORE TIME to the overall operation of the restaurant. I think that it is great that this show and Robert go in and remodel a space and create a menu that is new and refreshed, but,,,, interaction must take place with the whole kitchen staff, the wait staff, the bar staff and host staff. The first impression of a restaurant is not just visual but verbal, i.e. interaction with the staff. Someone made reference to putting lipstick on a pig,,,, and sadly this is the norm more often then not for most reality makeover shows,,,, I never want to see a business fail, resulting in the lost of jobs and income for those who labored there, but unless lessons are learned from the reason for the failure of the business,,,, the reasons for failure will find their way back and ultimately, the best way to sum up this show and many others of its format are only a prolonging of the inevitable,,,,

  9. jung jung mao says:

    i love this show and i like that Irvine and company address the underlying issue of interpersonal relationships. the key to any successful project is to have clarity in as many aspects of endeavor as possible and as early as possible. you have to identify the problems and nip it in the bud. smart managers can do this and being that the show is an outside party (consultants, really) their ability to identify these issues are much clearer than for the people who are actively engaged in it (they can't see the forest for the trees). keep up the good work, RI. i look forward to future episodes.

  10. Herbinator says:

    So how would you feel visiting the 'Oleander Garden Salad Bar', just curius?

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