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Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Whistle Stop restaurant in Hot Springs, Ark., he found an outdated dining space and dirty kitchen in desperate need of a makeover.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“What I love about the Whistle Stop,” said Lynn, “is that we took an outdated buffet and layout that just consumed space and reimagined the look and layout to make it more customer friendly.”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. Susey says:

    I can't believe Linda (Whistle Stop) just threw it all away. Robert and his crew busted their asses on that dump!

    • TheRick says:

      What made you think Linda wouldn't throw it all away? She seemed about as incapable of a person to run a restaurant than I've ever seen. Something tells me she couldn't even run a lemonade stand much less a restaurant filled with those morons. You just knew Linda and the head cook had no chance to remember anything that was taught to them. I can see Linda landing on her feet and running a mediocre "antique store" — w/o antiques, just a bunch of crap that people like Linda's workers would buy.

    • gail says:

      Alot of these guys wait until it's too late to save. One month from closing!!! Yet it never occurred to Linda in 4 years to take one online class to learn how to do her books. I think Robert needs to help people with at least a chance at making it.

  2. Jan Duckworth says:

    My daughter and her family lives in Hot Springs,AR and they definitely know the difference between Salmon and a chili dog and much prefer Salmon. The Whistle Stop is now a Pizza Restaurant. My Granddaughter just started working there.

    It's always sad to see one's dream go down the drain and you lose your investment,it means nothing to a major restaurant corporation, but when an individual loses everything it has to be devastating. My heart goes out to her and her family and I hope she was able to recover some of her investment.

    • DoubleD45 says:

      Yes, we definitely know the difference! We do prefer Salmon & Seafood over anything else. And for the record, Hot Springs does serve and has the best Seafood and the best Ma & Pop burger places! It is sad to see The Whistle Stop shut down. It had been open for a long time and had tones of business. I don't know what happened or why, but, it obviously needed help or Linda would not have asked for help and it is devastating to lose everything in this community of Ma & Pop business's that are not connected to big chains like Chili's, Outback etc….It is now a Pizza Pub and I hope it works out! It looks really nice in there and it's really comfortable, and the food and service is great :)

  3. Jan Duckworth says:

    You're probably right but if you'll give us a way of contacting you some of us might be able to teach you some manners…unless you're too buried in "stupid" to see beyond it.

  4. DoubleD45 says:

    As far as "TheRick" comment is concerned about not the classiest spot to live, let me remind you, this is a retirement community surrounded by Natural Forrest that people from all over come to visit. It is one of the "hot spot" vacation destination, and we do have a lot of classy people who live here!! My question to you is, for you to make that comment, you must live here and aren't classy and not happy with yourself and you went there too, so what does that make you?. And who are you to judge anyone by the way they look?

  5. Peggy Tree says:

    You are just rude. Your comments made about people in Arkansas have nothing to do with why this restaurant failed. It was the owner and employees who failed, not Chef Irvine or the customers. Get a life "TheRick".

  6. LaShawna Hanes says:

    I moved here from California and the fact is that its the same almost everywhere. Theres no difference here in Arkansas then from the 20 other places that I've lived. Maybe you should move here and live here for a while before you judge.

  7. jAllison says:

    So much for second chances. I wish her and her family well We all would like to hope we could have a second chance.

    • Terry says:

      Seems as though she wasted an excellent opportunity to keep her doors open…apparently she went back to her old menu after the show left.

  8. Marie Woolf says:

    EXACTLY.

  9. Marie Woolf says:

    Though I disagree with the assumption that downmarket areas don't have appreciation for something other than fat food, I came here after today's RI rerun curious about followup. We want to believe. Robert Irvine never fails to bring a tear to the eye with the episodes and the faith in 2nd chances. I was not optimistic about this one and I was right. The place was too far gone as a halfway house, with an owner and staff who were hopelessly codependent. Very, very sad and a waste of Robert's time, talent and good faith. There was another episode which at the outset seemed, and wound up, just as impossible. Just as pathetic. And that was Rascal's Crab Shack in Delaware. Attitude was everything, IMHO, as to why these two places were hopeless from the outset, never stood a chance. Look at the faces, body language and passive-aggressive "whatever" resentment in the owners and employees of those holes.

  10. Annie says:

    It sad to see when a Owner of a restaurant is willing to go to the extreme to go on a TV show and cry for help, that their business is failing. It's sadder to see when the help is given to you, a few months later you throw it all away and CLOSE down. I live in Hot Springs, AR but I was born and raised in California. I know what good quality food you could get, but here in Hot Springs don't waste your money…. NO good restaurant, except for big franchise. Sorry walk in Whistle Stop one time just the look of the staff made me walk out. Dosen't people have pride on how they leave their house. First impressions count!

    • BigAmy says:

      Sounds like to me you need to go back to California, and learn how to spell and put a sentence together. I will agree that the "Whistle Stop" wasn't a great place to eat, but there are many great places in Hot Springs, AR. to eat. You need to try Brick House Grill, Belle Arti, The Italian Villa, Jose's, Colorado Grill, KJ's, and many others that are not "Chain Restaurants".

      • Roger says:

        I disagree with your choices of good Italian joints here in Hot Springs. I have yet to find a half way decent Italian restaurant in hot springs. I agree we do have good places to eat here that are not "chains". Little Rock has a couple of decent Italian restaurants, but again Hot Springs does not have any Italian restaurants that are good.

    • Leisa says:

      Big Amy

      English 101: Don't use "and" twice in the same sentence. So how about you learn how to use correct sentence wording before trying to correct someone on how they write. Loser.

      You sound ignorant telling her to go back to California. The rest of your response is irrelevant. Get a life.

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