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 (354)

  1. pu_11 says:

    “You can educate a fool, but you cannot make him think”

  2. cissylynn says:

    When these restaurants close so soon after the show airs, Restaurant Impossible should slap a lien on the property for their costs to renovate. It's very obvious these restaurant owners just want a free renovation to jack up the price when they sell it.

  3. Mike in OC says:

    I was shopping for a new bicycle and what the salesman told me is app to this restaurant:

    "Cheap, Light, Durable. Pick two. You can't have it all."

    I don't understand why people think they can go out to dinner for less than a price of a meal at home.

  4. officialgame says:

    So lower the price of the BLT moron and keep everything else the same.

  5. Brenda says:

    Oh I forgot to mention that when I quit, he withheld my last paycheck, he told me he didn't have to give it to me, so I am glad he kept it, guess he needs it now.

    • GUEST says:

      If the place was that good to work then why did you quit? You just said it was a great place towork and that you all were a family.

  6. Sbars says:

    Anyone who wants to sit around and have their hand held should get out of the industry. It's brutal, unforgiving, and statistically restaurants are by far the most likely to fail out of all small businesses. People tend to let their pride and ego get in the way, when at the end of the day it is a numbers game

  7. Matt says:

    The owner seemed like a nice enough guy, but I don't know how he was ever successful in the restaurant business. If you can't sell a BLT for $7 that's one thing and I understand that. But if you can't make money selling a BLT for $4.50, that's a pretty good indication that the solution to your problem isn't lowering your price! Was he planning to make up his loss with volume?

  8. Mary Beth Barlow says:

    Dinner Bell Restaurant in Madison, Tennessee has been closed for at least 2 months, if not more.

  9. Mike Ogden says:

    Love this show! Love how Robert handles people!

  10. Emily says:

    Actually someone posted a notice from their facebook, they close back in April.

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