Restaurant Revisited: Whiskey Creek Steakhouse

by in Shows, January 2nd, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleAt Whiskey Creek Steakhouse in Keyport, Wash., Robert Irvine found not just poor food and a dark, drab interior, but also untrustworthy staff members. After just two days, Robert had established systems that would help the owners, Pat and Karan Ziarnik, regain control of their restaurant and slowly pay off debt, and the eatery reopened as a welcoming, sophisticated steakhouse with crowd-pleasing food. We checked in with Pat and Karan a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible renovation to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Pat and Karan tell us that October was a “very busy” month at Whiskey Creek Steakhouse. Since Robert left, they’ve begun to pay back some of their debt, and their overall financial situation is now “better than before.”

Thanks to the new, effective systems in place, Pat and Karan perform “a lot more double checks” to deter costly staff actions. Recently two staff members were let go, “mostly because they were caught doing other wrongs,” they tell us.

Both owners are working at the restaurant daily, and they say that customers have told them the food looks “clean” now. The most popular menu items are “prime rib and rib eye steak,” they note.

Pat and Karan have yet to make time for a date together, but they explain, “We have a dog that thinks he is our son, and we are stuck with him 24-7, but we love him.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Rising Sun Bistro (December 19)
Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri (December 9)
Bronk’s Bar and Grill (December 5)
Rohrer’s Tavern (November 28)
Poco’s on the Boulevard (November 21)
Oleander Bar and Grill (October 17)
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 (220)

  1. CFB says:

    I thought it was really weird and awkward to watch Robert do his "tough love" in front of a restaurant full of guests.

  2. Jimmy says:

    HOW IN THE HELL do owners of restaurants do the following:
    1. Only spend a couple hours in the restaurant a day.
    2. Don't have a POS / system in place to make sure every food item served is rung up and money is turned in.
    3. Don't do inventory and have no idea how much of each items they are selling.

    So basically you just put everyone on the honor system, don't supervise them or check them in anyway. Can you create a more conducive environment for stealing ???? If Robert's numbers are right then they were losing about 10 – 12 steaks a day. A few could be attributed to waste, returns, etc. But at least 10 per day were either being served to a friend for free, served to a customer and the money was stolen, eaten by an employee or boxes of steaks were walking out the back door. Likely it was all of the above. When there is ZERO supervision and checks and balances in place its easy to see how 10 steaks a day, 100K a year of profit could disappear.

    What is most hard to believe is how can an owner who is going bankrupt and losing everything not figure this out sooner and not become more involved in their business to make sure their profit wasn't walking out the door. Just think, if they would have collected the money from all of that food that was taken, they would have been able to keep their house and not be in the hole they are in now financially.

  3. mapone says:

    this is the usa ,,,everyone innocent until proven guilty,,,lol,,,mind on my money and money on my mind,,,,lol,,,trust me,,,,nobody sleeping in sleepless in seattle,,,lol,,,cant stop lol ,,,forgive me

  4. IceCreamMom says:

    As a business owner for 30+ years, as much as employees "love" you, they still can justify helping themselves to profits. I sure hope a video security system is installed soon. They are super affordable now, and I would never own a restaurant without one. Just knowing the cameras are there is usually enough to keep your employees honest.

  5. Joan says:

    What a load of crap – overpriced food and rotten service wonder how long they will manage to keep open. Something FUNNY about the owners…..I smell a RAT..

  6. PMM says:

    It's a shame that to make a television show, they had to ruin a restaurant. The new Whiskey Creek attempts to be uptown in a backwoods locale. I am a Kitsap local, and I can tell you that Whiskey Creek is waaaay off the beaten path. It's always been a place that people go to partly because it was so . . . uniquely decorated. Not only does it now try to look like so many other restaurants, but it is way overpriced for the area. My family and I used to eat at Whiskey Creek a couple of times a year and we were curious about its new incarnation. Not only did we pay twice as much, we received half as much food. Believe me, the portion sizes are not the same as you see on TV. Despite eating all that we were served, which was okay, not great, we left hungry and had to stop someplace else to get something to eat on our way home. I'm so disappointed.

  7. mdyoung1971 says:

    Who taught these people how to manage a restaurant? Robert is clueless as well, he's a chef not a restaurant manager. Number one, the owners DO NOT need to be there every day of the week. You hire a proven manager that knows what he/she is doing and train them to run it the way you want it run. Number 2: why in the hell would you keep a staff that admits to either stealing or seeing others steal? Any other reputable restaurant would have eliminated that entire staff long ago. Number 3: this has bothered me for a long time with this show, why do you take a long established niche restaurant in the backwoods of Washington state and try to remake it into a NYC or LA style steakhouse? The two just don't work together. This restaurant was making $1.5 million in revenue just a few short years ago and is now at just $750K, Instead of remaking it to the way I wanted to look, as a long time restaurant manager myself, I would have gone in there with a broom and cleaned house. I've done it before. You secretly hire a complete new staff and walk in one morning and clean house.

    • Brian Lyncg says:

      Pshaw…you rarely ever need to "clean house" to fix a poor environment. Starting over from scratch is sometimes necessary, but rarely. If that is your only plan…you should not be in the business.
      Just my opinion from 30 years experience…but do what you will :)

    • While I am retired now, I was a Deming quality-management consultant. I ended my career as the CEO of one of my larger clients.

      1. At that income level a "proven manager" is more likely to degrade to the misadventures of management than he or she is likely to effect improvement. What is first required is to achieve what we call constancy of purpose (which was sorely lacking).

      2. No staff – no restaurant. Amnesty is not unheard of. In a similar situation, I have recommended replacing the entire staff at the OWNER's convenience.

      3. While you are correct on the most basic level, you haven't considered the organizational benefits of a re-design. It gives a failing enterprise a visible reason to succeed.

      Finally, your gratuitous comments about Robert are off the mark. While I was doing this when he was slopping Royal Navy food (and I have an MBA), I could learn a thing or two from Robert. He intuitively just gets it. Furthermore, his success rate seems to be higher than mine ever was. Then to do it all in a couple of days is spectacularly impressive.

    • xoiya says:

      Keyport is backwoods of Washington. I used to live there. other then that i completely agree.

    • Terry says:

      I agree with you. The servers did not have a clue on how to serve the public. I, as a FOH manager would have fired most of the staff. I also would have installed cameras thru out so I could keep an eye on everything. There is no reason the resturant could not make it without the owners there all the time. You need an honest FOH manager and GM.

  8. kkanyon10 says:

    wiping the steaks with a towel was pretty gross!!

    • Suanne says:

      I agree and handling food especially meat without gloves is a no no. Restaurants with high prices most always handle salads etc. wearing those surgical type gloves and all of them should. I do when I handle meat, fish etc. and mix my hamburger with a spoon and then wear gloves to make meatballs. My husband and I go through so many rolls of paper towels because we wash our hands so often and stay healthy but to each their own.

      • nap says:

        Sometimes gloves give false security. Have you ever watched someone wear gloves, touch hair, face and money too? Yuk At least bare hands can be washed

  9. Rose says:

    Why is it that I notice only people who seem to want to post comments are always negative and never positive sounding people. I give credit to anyone or any business establishment that tries at least to do better.

  10. Cher S. says:

    Yes, I agree. There is too much negative here. Like the old saying, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." The owners asked for help and Robert gave it. Where the business goes from here on is up to them. But give credit where credit is due.

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