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. Javier says:

    Where are the men of these two ladies to help them out.

  2. papajohn says:

    suspected from day one it was all just a con job to sell the business.. You could tell no one had any business experience , It was just all about flipping a business on someones elses money, it seems even fewer people go there now than before the show..

  3. Joyce says:

    I am so glad that I am not the only person that made the connection between Olean and Oleander. Really people??? That was obvious!!!!!

    • just curius says:

      I think everyones knows that-olean-oleander,.It's still a dumb name.But oh well the place if it has not will most likely tank.

  4. SingnSuzQ says:

    Are you talking about Robert Irvine in Restaurant Impossible? Because Gordon Ramsay doesn't do this show. But thanks for playing :).

  5. linda says:

    wow .. not sure the mother or daughter have a clue . it's just a shame .and she couldn;t do it without a baby , omg

  6. marcia says:

    We saw the show and my husband and I decided to take a ride from Tonawanda, NY and have lunch. We called friends that live in Olean and met them there. We had a great lunch, food was great, service was great, and the staff could not have been more gracious. I do not have one complaint and hopefully the people of Olean will support this restaurant. They will be left with only fast food chain restaurants if they don't wise up. There were 8 people in our party and we did not have one complaint. Pork chop was great, Pittsburgh salad was fantastic, Salmon was done to perfection all the rest was great also. We definately will be visiting again. We will the Oleander owners and staff the best. THANK YOU for a great meal.

  7. GoodGrief says:

    Geez….get over it. How many times do we have to hear how toxic the plant is?? For crying out loud, it's just a name! Nobody is asking you to eat it!!!

    • basil says:


      Your kind of slow,It's the name of a poison that's been used in food to kill people.Who would not think it's a bad choice for a name. And if you are a low grade moron sorry.You can always have someone read this for you.

      • happiness says:

        get over it!

        • basil says:

          I think they are over it.It was posted 2 weeks ago,I'm sure they have moved on with interest in a different purchase.

          • happiness says:

            the comment i responded to was just 2 days ago…………yours………..

          • basil says:

            And I was responding to"Good Grief", and an Educated person would think twice.It's just an opinion after-all. I was under the impression that everyone wants the restaurant to succeed.But the statement has been beat to death and like other reviewers have said it's about Olean not the Restaurant. I don't give a shit one way or the other.

          • debco says:

            I think you and Just Curius are trolls working in tandem and giving each other thumbs up since I doubt anyone would give you that many. Maybe the first thing YOU think of when you hear oleander is 'poison', maybe the rest of us think 'pretty flower'. Maybe it kind of speaks towards your view on life?

  8. Nick Speigler says:

    The place is up for sale through a local realtor for $179,000. Didn't take long for the place to make classifieds.

  9. infusion set says:

    Oleanders can be unpopular trees in certain situations because of their poisonous sap, invasive nature and root system that's difficult to dig up. You must remove all of the oleander's roots to prevent the plant from sprouting back up again and forming a new tree. Thanks.

  10. steve says:

    In the English language it's very common for words to have more than one meaning. Another definition of Oleander is someone from Olean. Duh. No charge for the English lesson.

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