Restaurant Revisited: Whistle Stop

by in Shows, October 3rd, 2012

Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Whistle Stop restaurant in Hot Springs, Ark., he found an outdated dining space and dirty kitchen in desperate need of a makeover. Linda Todd, employee-turned-owner of Whistle Stop, needed Robert’s help to transform her restaurant into a profitable business and effectively manage her staff. We checked in with Linda to see how the restaurant is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible renovation. Hear from the owner below then take a photo tour of the restaurant and see before-and-after snapshots of the Whistle Stop’s dining room and buffet station.

Since Robert left, the restaurant has begun breakfast service, which Linda says “is doing pretty well” so far. “We started doing breakfast a little over 2 weeks ago and it is doing pretty well. Hopefully it will continue to grow.” She also notes that Brett does not work at Whistle Stop anymore.

In terms of the decor, Robert turned to designer Lynn Kegan to take what was once a dark and drab dining room with multicolored holiday lights, faux greenery and dated black chairs and turn it into a bright, relaxing area with comfortable, contemporary silver seating.

Restaurant: Impossible

Restaurant: Impossible

Additionally, the team improved the flow of Whistle Stop by moving the buffet station from one side of the restaurant to the other.

Restaurant: ImpossibleRestaurant: Impossible

“What I love about the Whistle Stop,” said Lynn, “is that we took an outdated buffet and layout that just consumed space and reimagined the look and layout to make it more customer friendly.”

Tell us: What do you think of the new space?

More From Restaurant Revisited:

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 (297)

  1. Phoenix says:

    I see a lot of businesses in Arkansas that would exploit something like this just because it's free, they get good advice, and helping hand, but they have no desire to put out more effort than taking your money, and getting you gone as quickly as possible. They are in "Money Saving Mode".
    I would like to see someone actually find the true salvation in an effort like this, but I'm not holding my breath because something for nothing is rarely truly appreciated.

  2. carmareas12 says:

    What I think about restaurants getting away with having unsanitary conditions, putting customers health on the line, is the inspectors themselves are lazy and have that "I don't care attitude, I still get paid whether or not I pass them". Maybe health inspectors should have their own homes inspected before they are hired to make sure they are clean in their own homes. After watching these types of shows, I would LOVE to be an inspector! If I came across a restaurant like the ones we have seen, I would have them shut down ON THE SPOT! Don't give them another 6 months to 'clean it up'….They would have to clean it up, then inspect again. You don't pass, you don't open!

  3. Tammy says:

    My family has eaten at The Whistle Stop about once a month since the Makeover in July. We like it. And we aren't Hillbillies like one posting person said those who eat there must be. I did let the owner know the baked catfish tasted dirty/muddy. Missy the waitress is still very friendly. Everything looks clean. Buffet is great. More flavor now.

    • Glenn says:

      catfish many, many times have this "taste"..they eat mud and food that sits in mud..either you get a catfish taste that is better than trout…or it tastes like mud..nothing the owner can do

      • Charlie says:

        Hi Glenn, this is where you are wrong. Secret to excellent catfish. First keep cat fish alive and place them in your bathtub full of fresh cold water. Pour 1 cup of "corn meal" and allow catfish to stay over night. They will digest corn meal quickly which completely gets rid of all foul taste and leaves you with the sweetest tasting catfish ever!! Bona Petite… Charlie J.

      • velta says:

        soak your fish in salt water for a couple of hours and gets almost all the mud taste out.

  4. Walter says:

    This site is very hard to navigate to find out up dates…..!

  5. Tony Long says:

    Robert has done wonderful things our American restaurants.

  6. Anon says:

    This has nothing to do with the Whistle Stop, but… yikes… almost 4 solid pages of bot posts. This is bad. Food Network, monitor your forums a little better. A simple CAPTCHA goes a long way…

  7. HLKKEPA says:

    Hey food network get all these phishers off here, they are ruining the comments for real fans of the show who want to follow the progress of these restaurants.

  8. WonTonPoi says:

    Just started watching RI and came to check out the followups. Several questions though, why only 2 days and only $10K to fix up these places. Just some equipment alone can eat up the $10K quickly. The format reminds me of the show I think called Trading Houses where they only had a short period of time and limited amount of $ to fix up their neighbor's home. So they had to re-purpose many items, but later on a few of the makeover owners said that the stuff would just fall apart due to the rush and inferior quality. I like this genre of show, like undercover boss where things get fixed up. Not necessarily the host – - seems most of these exec chefs are more arrogant aka Chef Gordon Ramsey.

    Lastly who are all these strange posters who are complimenting the original article? It sounds like a Nigerian email – bad English and makes no sense.

    • Jepchamp says:

      I know what you mean: these are arbitrary limitations. I guess I can understand the budget, except they should get extra when they need to bring in professional cleaners or buy equipment, but the two-day thing seems silly. They're usually rushing at the end, and I always assume the place must smell like paint–and that the paint can't possibly be completely dry. Why not take a couple of extra days and avoid having everyone running around like headless chickens?

    • Stutsman says:

      Obviously you don’t watch the RI show that much, because it did not smell like paint or anything other than great food. I was there the first night Whistle Stop opened back up. So you really do not need to give you opinion on it since you were not. I have been to this restaurant before and after the Restaurant Impossible was there and they did a great job. It was the management and there going back to the old menu and not caring about their clientele that cause the failing of this place and lack of there employees hygiene. And beside that, the Whistle Stop owner is not the one putting up the money they are the one making the profit on in the end from the improvements of the remodeling and advertising.

      • Terry says:

        That's a shame…I was wondering that as I was watching the rerun of this episode last night. I was there last November, the fettuccine alfredo was flavorless & mushy and had to serve my own side dishes from the buffet. I liked the decor but we were only 1 of 2 tables filled that evening. We were celebrating birthdays and they didn't even have ice cream available for dessert, it's practically available in every restaurant I've been to.

    • Doug says:

      If you owned a restaurant wouldn't you be happy with the free help and knowledge? Just think they get all this free and $10k for fixing up the place. I f they need equipment then the owner should buy that out of pocket

  9. Carol says:

    The whole staff looks like they just walked out of the Salvation Army. I, too, was a server for many years and never would have gone to work looking like that.

    • Rob says:

      Carol, I have eaten there several times since the make-over. The decor is wonderful but they seem to have returned to the original, tasteless food they served before. The menu doesn't change, it's too expensive for what it is and the food is blah. Sorry Robert that they didn't take and keep your advice and wonderful recipes you taught them. If the Whistlestop goes under it's no ones fault but the owner.

      • Kelly says:

        We stopped by over the summer, the buffet was practically empty and when we asked about crab legs, they said they didn't have any come in on their order. Totally disappointing and a waste of our time to even stop in. Not only that, other customers were complaining as they were waiting to pay their bills, saying they would not return.

  10. Frustrated says:

    unbelievable… i came on here to find out how the restaurant was doing, and what do i find?? all this crap that doesnt pertain to the restaurant… clean up your blog… i will NOT be on this site again

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