Restaurant Revisited: Dinner Bell Restaurant

by in Shows, February 27th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible

Not long after Robert Irvine arrived at Dinner Bell Restaurant in Madison, Tenn., it was clear to him that this mission would be unlike any he had done in the past. “This has got to be the most desperate restaurant I’ve ever been to,” he reflected after meeting owner Tommy Kirkpatrick. Before its Restaurant: Impossible experience, Dinner Bell was just two days away from closing its doors, so it was up to Robert and his team to rescue the eatery from the brink of financial ruin. Despite initial tension between Robert and Tommy, who was frustrated with the acknowledgment of his failures, Dinner Bell ultimately reopened to a full house after a much-needed deep clean, a revamping of the menu and an interior overhaul. We checked in with Tommy a few months after the renovation to find out how his business is doing today.

Dinner Bell remains “very clean,” according to Tommy, who, since the renovation, has held his employees accountable to excellence in both the front and back of the house. “Kitchen staff are expected to taste the food before each shift to ensure quality and expected to keep the kitchen in clean, working order,” he tells us. The servers “definitely look more professional than they did before the show, and Tommy is “ensuring [they] are consistently wiping the tables and table bases down, and guests are greeted with personality and friendliness.”

After the renovation, Tommy received some “positive” feedback from customers about Robert’s new menu — especially the Derby Pie, a favorite at the restaurant. However, they’ve since resorted to their previous list of offerings because the prices were too high for some diners. “Several long-term customers stated they would not return to the Dinner Bell because they could not afford a $7 BLT sandwich, which was priced previously at $4.50.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Nanny Goat’s Cafe & Feed Bin (February 20)
Sapori D’Italia (January 23)
Windseeker Restaurant (January 16)
Whiskey Creek Steakhouse (January 2)
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)

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Comments (359)

  1. Jeff says:

    Most of the folks who own these restaurants have ZERO business, let alone restaurant management training. Yet people automatically see Chef Robert as the culprit? C'mon folks.

  2. terry says:

    Apparently they didn't take Chef Robert's advice. According to Yelp, the Dinner Bell closed on April 15, 2013. All that work and renovation for nothing. What a waste of time and money.

  3. jay says:

    So dissappointed to read the restaurant is closed. I haven't watched Restaurant Impossible Show from the beginning but judging from what I have watched, it is an owner's nightmare. Most of the restaurant s are closed in a year. The owner of this restaurant appeared very nice so his argument with Robert seemed staged. Best wishes to this family and the employees that worked for him. May God bless them all.

    • jay says:

      I retract my above comment. The owner went back to the old pricing knowing he was losing money by doing so. Maybe he just did this show for free renovation so he can up the cost when he sell it.

    • Tony P says:

      A note to all those in the south and everywhere else. If the food you're being offered at restaurants is priced low, you really ought to question the quality of that food–even if it tastes good to you and especially if it's offered in quantity. You don't have to pay through the nose to get a decent meal, but you usually get what you pay for in the food industry. Mom and pop establishments can't compete with the lower prices of larger chain restaurants that buy inferior quality food in bulk. The flip side of that is, you should be getting better quality food at the smaller places, and if you have to pay up for that, isn't it worth it? Food has a major impact on your health. If it comes down to affordability, I'd rather pay up and eat out less frequently if that's what I had to do to get better quality food. You are what you eat folks. Eat well.

    • Julie says:

      Is the restaurant closed

  4. katie says:

    Not at all surprised this place gave up the ghost last year. Tommy was a total fake-o and just needed a $10,000 bath and paint job to put it on the market .. then sold it for a song anyway. A man who clearly needs emotional help and one who I hope appreciates the 'rock' he has in his wife. Sad sad story.

  5. GUEST says:


  6. Wandering Banshee says:

    Okay, I have just discovered this show because of Netflix. I do not have cable or a TV for anything other than DVD movies that I choose and a Roku Box. The only thing I pay for is Netflix and watch that or YouTube for my sheeple time entertainment. I have been on a marathon of this show. THIS DESIGN HAD TO BE THE WORST I'VE SEEN A DECORATOR DO IN ALL OF THE SHOWS SO FAR. It is better, but not by much. Where did the money go? I've seen some darn miracles on other shows that blew me away and this was TERRIBLE compared. Those chairs? How could you EVER get away from the cafeteria feel with those chairs? They just changed the color of the seat. Ugliest chairs on the planet and not much else like the other shows have had. It's no wonder they went out of business. It still looked weird inside and not a good atmosphere. No one wants to feel any resemblance of a school cafeteria. I bet mental hospital cafeterias have those chairs.

    • Wandering Banshee says:

      I forgot to mention the horrible tables that looked the same. The worst transformation I've seen so far. Did she pocket the money? Nashville isn't more expensive than a lot of places they've been too. In fact, way below.

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