Restaurant Revisited: Caseyville Cafe

by in Shows, March 13th, 2013

Robert Irvine at Caseyville CafeAlthough mother-daughter duo Diane Emery and Robin Gordon had no previous experience in the restaurant industry, together they purchased Caseyville Cafe in Caseyville, Ill., more than three years ago. At one point their eatery was making enough money to simply break even with its costs, but it soon turned into a failing venture, with more than $6,000 being lost every month. Just months away from shutting down their business entirely, the ladies looked to Robert Irvine for a complete Restaurant: Impossible overhaul. It soon became clear to Robert that this “dirty, dysfunctional” space was in need of not simply an aesthetic transformation, but also vast changes to its menu and management. In two days and with only $10,000, he worked with Diane and Robin to revamp all aspects of Caseyville Cafe, which ultimately reopened with crowd-pleasing food and a roomful of satisfied customers. We checked in with Robin a few months after Robert left to find out how her business is doing today.

Since its Restaurant: Impossible debut, Caseyville Cafe has had an increase in business. Although they’re still working to manage supply costs, Robin and Diane are slowly minimizing their debt.

Much of the front-of-house staff remains at the restaurant, and the servers are now taking better care of their customers. Diane and Robin still struggle with gossip among the servers, but Robin notes that her mother “has been trying to improve” in her communications with the staff. “My mother has been spending more time at the cafe. She has been doing the majority of the management,” she tells us.

Robin adds that “the food has improved and is consistent” at Caseyville. The restaurant is now featuring both its original menu and Robert’s new offerings, but Robin says that “the ribeye and asparagus have been a success.”

Looking back on her Restaurant: Impossible experience, Robin believes its most-valuable result to be the effect it has had on Diane. “I think Robert has finally made my mother realize that she needs to take the cafe more seriously or else it will close,” she explains.

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Maniaci’s Italian Bistro (March 10)
Dinner Bell Restaurant (February 27)
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 (109)

  1. SoniaNS says:

    Don't know what to say other than very disappointing. Got my 79 yr old father to watch Restaurant Impossible with me since he is a former restaurant owner. Also, he lives about 15 miles away. We were excited to try it out and have no desire to return. Too dark, so dead quiet if was easy to hear a waitress speak ill of a departing customer to customers who just came in, paperwork spread out on the bar, gravy dripping from sides of our plates, country fried steak tasted good but looked nothing like the preparation on the show, glazed carrots tasted old. The décor was very cute is my only positive comment.

  2. mgil says:

    So sad on the decor. They covered a beautiful Italian mural and decorated with wide expanses of flat plain paint and little decent accents other than the cedar planks. Second time they have destroyed an amazing mural rather than take it as an inspiration and left adesignof little originality or personality in its place.

    • @DenDotson says:

      Having visited the Caseyville Cafe prior to the show's makeover I can say they made the right decision covering the mural. The painting was old, dirty, and looked shabby.

  3. pinkhiheels60 says:

    What a pleasant group of ladies (not). Hateful and rude who would eat there?

  4. Tia Cat says:

    I love watching Restaurant Impossible and seeing the opportunities that Robert gives to people who are in dire need of change. To my disbelief, however, I notice that in many of these "follow up" articles on the restaurants he helps, they say the restaurant has gone back to its old menu, while incorporating "a few" of Robert's recipes. I don't get it! Why would they think going back to their old menu would be a good idea? Aside from the decor, their old menu was the primary reason why they weren't making any money! It's frustrating as an audience member to see these golden opportunities -the fresh, modern, delicious recipes Robert shares with them – just thrown away. It's sheer stupidity, and they deserve to close.

    • @Jcaesar319 says:

      I love the show , but you can't teach the restaurant business in 2 days . I have worked as a GM in the business for 10 plus years and most people just aren't cut out for it . They go back to the "old" way because its whats comfortable and easy for them too do . If you watch closely most every place has the same issues going in , staff isn't trained , food costs too high , a manager who has no clue, and the place is filthy or the decor design is terrible .

    • Eric says:

      As other people have said, most of the people he tries to help should not be in the business. Most have absolutely no restaurant experience. I can't understand how people think he is fake because many of the places don't last. They are usually so bad off that he is there last hope. His show is like intervention for addicts. It only actually works in a few cases. However, they do great work, and he is a good guy. :)

  5. @JenDOC says:

    I ate there before the redo. Tonight, I decided to give them another try. I was so disappointed. We were not seated, but told, "go seat yourself". Then it took 15 minutes before our order was taken, including drink order. There was only one lady working, and she had no personality. She did not come back to check that our drinks were empty. Once the food was delivered, an additional 15 minutes for two people of the "special", the waitress did not stop by again. It was the owner, the mom, who checked in on us, only after she went to talk to everyone else she knew there. It was funny to watch the people roll their eyes after she left each table. I honestly think she's nice. She saw us sitting there and refilled our drinks, and gave us free dessert because of the condition of the last piece of pie she had. That was a nice gesture, but I'm happy to pay for food. If she thought it wasn't of quality to serve, then giving it to me for free, why serve it at all? It was smaller than the other pieces and was obviously the last piece. The asparagus was not on the menu, and it's also obvious they did not have a new menu. In fact, their menu is significantly smaller than it ever had been before. It was such a disappointment. The owner needs to retrain her staff to smile and take care of the guests like she was taking care of people. It appeared that she knew her waitress wasn't friendly and tried to make up for it, telling everyone who left to please come back. It's a desperate situation.

  6. jeff says:

    my fiancée and I went to Caseyville café on 5/18/2013 just to see what it was like since the redo. low and behold when we got there around 6:00p.m. that evening they were closed. very upsetting after coming all the way from O'Fallon, Missouri.

  7. @Surfette72 says:

    One of the reasons I will never work in a restaurant as a server is that I KNOW that I am nowhere near friendly enough to do it. I wish more people knew that about themselves as well. I was embarrassed for them.

  8. Wayne says:

    I would never go to a restaurant twice if the service was poor.Owning a restaurant is a 24hour per day job-7 days per week.Too competitive a business to get into.I like Robert Irvine and Gordon Ramsay for what they do.Wonder where the $10,000 comes from for the remodel?

  9. Tim says:

    well i got to experience the Caseyville Cafe…LOL kinda slow service only one waitress on duty…had the chicken fried steak and it was ok…decor look good except the paper menus were a bit worn out…how much does it cost to copy new menus once in a while…the biggest surprise was in the back room… there were chains and locks on the glass patio door and another broken door that i could see falling apart…then it look like one of the staffs kids was sitting and resting his head on the bar in front kinda bored and such…yup kinda disappointing…i came from Dallas Texas to go check it out…wish i could give a better report cause i love RI…Chef Irvine tries real hard to help people in denial!

  10. Dave says:

    YELP lists the restaurant as "Closed" & accepting no further comments. I would have shut down, fired all the staff permanently, then start over. The food can be great, but the key is service, service, service. Too hard to turn that place around in a few days, but—————–D

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