Restaurant Revisited: Maniaci’s Italian Bistro

by in Shows, March 10th, 2013

Robert Irvine at Maniaci's Italian BistroAfter their mother passed away five years ago, brothers Geoff, John and Tim Maniaci have struggled with dwindling business at their family’s 18-year-old restaurant, Maniaci’s Italian Bistro, in Mohnton, Pa. Before its Restaurant: Impossible overhaul, the eatery was losing more than $2,000 per month, and for those whose livelihoods depend on profits, the damages were almost too much to bear. Robert Irvine and his team worked with the brothers to revamp the interior of Maniaci’s and rework its menu, as well as to fix the tattered management in the hopes of giving the business a second chance at success. After only two days of renovations, Maniaci’s opened its doors again, this time to a packed dining room and with a menu focused on quality food. We checked in with Geoff, John and Tim a few months after Maniaci’s transformation to find out how the eatery is doing today.

Since Robert left, business at Maniaci’s has indeed increased, and, according to Geoff, the restaurant saw “almost $15,000 in dining room sales for the month of December.” Bar sales are up, as well, nearly $6,000 for the same month.

In terms of management, Geoff is now wholly in charge of the restaurant, and he says that “employees like that we are more structured.”

The brothers agree that customer reaction to both Maniaci’s food and updated decor has been incredible. Staff members are now expected to clean every day to maintain the hygiene of the made-over space, and management is holding them accountable. “We have the waitresses and bartenders making sure that their area is cleaned at the end of the night,” John explains. “We have made checklists for them to follow.” Geoff adds: “We want to keep everything clean and not let it go back to the way it was. We care more now than before.”

Along with a cleaner space, Maniaci’s is now offering a menu made only with fresh food. With the exception of his branzino, all of Robert’s dishes are still being featured, but the restaurant has also incorporated other plates, including those on a kids’ menu. “I have given my head cook, Lisa, more responsibility in taking over the dinners,” Tim tells us.

In regard to the family dynamic at Maniaci’s, John explains that the relationship among the brothers has been acceptable so far. “Since this is a family-owned business, there will always be tension at some point in time, but for the most part, we have been working well together.” He adds that because of his full-time job, he’s able to devote only three days per week to bartending, but it’s enough because other bartenders are there to relieve him. “My full-time job provides health insurance for my family and me, and I have to make sure that I am performing at the top of my game.”

Tim’s wife, Dre, notes that, because of her husband’s schedule, “he still doesn’t see his kids much during the week.” Both Geoff and John agree that Tim is largely more accepting of criticism than he was before the renovation. “I would have to say it all depends upon the topic,” John explains.

To Robert and the entire Restaurant: Impossible team, Tim says simply: “Thank you again for all you have done. We are truly grateful.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

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 (144)

  1. @samanthaboe says:

    Some restaurant not ? Good food eat in

  2. Lord Poopsalon says:

    Once crusted in clams, this fine establishment is entangled in pickers and flickers they may as well consider this done. I shall return before my last breath and take a wee fork with for to swallow all the brothers have to offer, and if you are a dear fan of the critiquing reviews of good Lord Poopsalon than do teach your phone to correct it and know it as mine does and will with curious truth! %^ V

  3. Anthony Ocasio says:

    I just watch the episode and they are doing great and to all the people who have a problem with the way Robert Irvine helps those who ask for it and for thouse who have a problem with Sysco you can't then are a great company to ored from so stop talking bull.

  4. Abacab says:

    15 years ago, Maniaci's was a great sub shop/pizzeria that happened to have a small dining room with a couple of tables attached. The decor was mostly newspaper clippings, local high school sports paraphernalia, and broadway show posters. The place really went downhill after the bar area was added, the down-home decor was removed, and everything was repainted in that putrid pink color. At the same time, the menu was expanded to include more entrees. The problem was, they got away from their bread and butter – the fantastic pizzas, strombolis, and spaghetti and meatballs – and tried to pose as a fine dining establishment, which they clearly weren't cut out for. After Mrs. Maniaci died, it seemed like everyone just stopped trying.

    Honestly, I don't think the makeover and newly updated menu will help at all in the long run. It would have been better to get it back to its pizza and beer roots. Mohnton's a working class town, and that is the kind of place that's in demand there. They should run with it. Scrap the "dining" and bring back the old Maniaci's!

    I haven't been back in the area in years but will be visiting some relatives there soon and will have to go in and check it out. Hopefully they still have the fantastic pizza. I'm really not interested in any of the new menu items.

    And after Mrs, Maniaci died, it seemed like everyone just stopped trying.

  5. Holly Bauer says:

    I would like to know why the restaurants,esp., the filthy ones, are not closed by the health inspectors? Thank you for your response.

    H.Bauer

  6. Elishia says:

    Was there last month with some friends. When we arrived at 6:00, there were no other customers…bad sign ! Bread was great, bruchetta was great, main dish was horrible. The chicken in the dish was mostly grissle. No taste to the dish at all. Front curtain was hanging on a very bent rod and didnt have enough material to cover the winder. The little person owner must have been listening to our conversation because he commented on it when we were leaving. Very uncomfortable experience. Wont go there again !

  7. Goph says:

    Maniaci's is sad to report that after almost 20 years, we will be closing our doors for good on April 5th. We have tried our hardest to keep up with rising costs and rough times; but, unfortunately, we have not been able to overcome all of the obstacles. We want to thank all of our loyal customers that have been with us through the years and, also, the newest customers. We don't always know what God's plans are, but we will continue to follow the path he leads us down. We appreciate all of the support we have had from all of you over the years.
    We will be having a final goodbye event for all of our customers on Saturday, April 5th. Please stop in anytime after 6 pm to wish us well and hang out with the Maniaci family for one last time. We look forward to seeing you April 5th.

    • Goph says:

      Taken from the local paper

    • Glenn says:

      This place is closing for one reason, their competitor is clean, has excellent food and great service. And I am not the competitor! The last time I was at this place I stood at the bar for 15 minutes and the "little guy" just ignored us while doing shots with his friends. I left and went up the street to his competitor and never came back. Now his competitor owns this place and will be opening a new establishment in this location. Guess their excuses don't hold water! I live in Shillington and do not have any connection with the competitor, except that I go there for good food and good service! What a waste of $10,000 and two days!

  8. Glenn says:

    This place is closing for one reason, their competitor is clean, has excellent food and great service. And I am not the competitor! The last time I was at this place I stood at the bar for 15 minutes and the "little guy" just ignored us while doing shots with his friends. I left and went up the street to his competitor and never came back. Now his competitor owns this place and will be opening a new establishment in this location. Guess their excuses don't hold water! I live in Shillington and do not have any connection with the competitor, except that I go there for good food and good service! What a waste of $10,000 and two days!

    • SFriegen says:

      Another Robert Irvine success story. For him. Not for the restaurants he "helps." Irvine gets paid and the restaurants all close.

      The show is farce. The premise is ridiculous. $10,000 and 2 days won't fix endemic problems. And rebuilding a restaurant in 2 days while getting all the necessary permits is impossible.

      It takes more than 2 days to train staff and get a handle on the problems.

      FAKE!

      • Glenn says:

        You should not put the blame on Robert Irvine for the incompetence of the proprietors of this restaurant. They did a poor job of running something their Mother created and did not take advantage of the "golden" opportunity they were given. A second chance wasted! The boys and their staff had several years to get their act together and provide good food and service. Their competitor provides the kind of service his customers desire, but then he created what he has.

        • SFriegen says:

          Let me say it slowly. Trying to fix years of endemic problems in 2 days is a fantasy. Trying to rebuild a restaurant in 2 days for $10,000 is a fantasy. Trying to rebuild a restaurant without permits is a fantasy.

          All of these restaurants eventually fail because this show is a feel good immediate gratification b.s. exercise. More fantasy just like Robert Irvine's resume. And that Irvine is now venturing out into pop psychology is even more ridiculous.

          FAKE!

          • Glenn says:

            You have sparked my interest! As a researcher I totally rely only on documentable facts or statistics, so where is the posting of the percentages of restaurants that fail? How many have you actually visited or contacted and determined their reasons for failure? For myself, this is the only restaurant from the show that I have personally visited. My opinion is based only on my experience with this one compared to the local competitors. As for the show, like anything else on TV, it is for entertainment purposes. Providing a good product and service to ones customer is not TV entertainment and this placed failed because they did not provide either.

    • Glenn says:

      You should not put the blame on Robert Irvine for the incompetence of the proprietors of this restaurant. They did a poor job of running something their Mother created and did not take advantage of the "golden" opportunity they were given. A second chance wasted! The boys and their staff had several years to get their act together and provide good food and service. Their competitor provides the kind of service his customers desire

  9. jessestone says:

    Thanks for the great reviews, looking forward to trying some of them.

  10. lesscan says:

    Theyre not open on Mon's so its actually $800/day

  11. GeekDavid says:

    I didn't think the restaurant paid the $10k for the renovation, I thought that was provided by the show.

    I could be wrong, tho.

    Can one of the officially official FN people give us the "dish" on that? ;)

  12. eric says:

    I think that the article meant to say that the restaurant had an INCREASE of $15, 000 in December, not total sales because it then said that the bar had an increase of $6,000

  13. P_Fagioli says:

    Actually, unlike some, I understand the difference between the two. The concept of sponsorship and that of product placement are not interchangeable, although product placements may, as in this instance, be done *by* sponsors. No one said product placement wasn't a revenue source — in fact I said the opposite.

    It is, however, relatively rare (and unprecedented AFAIK for RI) to have a gigantic box bearing a sponsor's name on screen while the dialogue for the scene is "arranged" to make specific reference to the sponsor's product and its freshness.

  14. GiveARat's says:

    Considering that there are still 20 minutes of commercials to fast forward through during every hour long episode, I would disagree that the DVR is causing anybody to need to make up for anything anywhere.
    I read something about Chef Irvine's new deal with SYSCO… now we are seeing it in action. Can you say "sellout?" It's pronounced a lot like "greed."
    And I agree with P_Fagioli. This was way over the top.

  15. Annie says:

    Actually it is a fact that product placement in television shows is increasing because of DVRs. When Neilson does the ratings they do in fact track which shows are watched "live" and which ones are recorded then watched later. They also track the time that you watch the recording.
    The last time I did a Neilson report I think they asked if we typically fast forwarded through commercials or let them play when watching things on the DVR.
    The sponsors watch the ratings too, and when they see that fewer people are watching the commercials, they don't have much choice but to find other ways to incorporate their message and get their product out there.

    I am not sure if RI specifically is increasing its product placements because of the decrease in viewership of commercials that networks across the board are seeing, but it's a pretty safe bet.
    I don't like a lot of product placements lately, either– in fact, the blatently obvious and painfully scripted ones like I used to see in Biggest Loser made me want to change the channel– but their unavoidable and kind of necessary right now. If it weren't for product placements, we'd all probably be paying much, much more for cable than we already do.

  16. Don says:

    People that they say "sellout" and "greed", are nothing more than jealous of someones success and their "RIGHT" and "ABILITY" to capitalize on it.

    So what..so they advertised a product on the show. Big deal. Sysco is a restaurant supplier….so why not. Most people here would not be buying from them anyways, as you can not buy most of their product as a regular consumer. So , …who cares!

  17. GiveARat's says:

    If it is indeed "a fact" as you contend, Annie, then there must be proof. I would love to see that. And Nielsen, even if they pretend to report 'facts', is not proof.

    As I said earlier, RI specifically is increasing its product placements (i.e., SYSCO) because Irvine made a deal with them to do it. No mystery. End of story.

    I would contend (but not be so self-righteous to claim it as fact) that product placement in programming is increasing for two simple reasons:
    1. Greed
    2. Lack of any semblance of integrity.

    End of epilogue.

  18. Guido says:

    I hope you are right that is actually the only thing that makes sense. There is no way that a place can survive on 21k in sales a month. 21k increase a month in sales is nice but it remains to be seen how long it lasts after the novelty factor wears off. It is tough to change the way people act. Complacency sets in quickly especially when things go better for a while.

  19. Jason says:

    I don't think so. The text of the story says that they saw $15K for the restaurant and $6K for the bar, not an increase of those amounts. You guys are right though, that doesn't seem like much.

  20. John says:

    How very lawyerly of you, Penelope…..the previous poster didn't mention Robert's Lexus SUV that he tools around in on the show. Lexus is a major sponsor, same as Sysco.

  21. Dug Jones says:

    Come on, you are being too harsh. She said that she is "new at posting things like this."

  22. Guest says:

    You could also call and ask her considering her phone # is apparently attached to her user name.

    For a good time and horrible grammar call Kitty boo 4705173285

  23. DJay says:

    Okay, seriously, Dug Jones, you don't have to be an avid poster to use proper grammar. Let's be honest, what Kitty boo typed didn't make a whole lot of sense. I would like to thank both you & Steviecat for the good laugh I just got though.

  24. anm_s_mom says:

    Not to mention Sherwin Williams (ever look closely at the interior designers' paint cans?) and Transitions lenses!

  25. Shannon says:

    ROTFL..thats great !

  26. gettnbusy says:

    Oh, so you think that television stations are in this game for free – just to provide you with content? LMAO! You're a special kind of stupid. Making money on a business venture is NOT greed – it is capitalism. Don't watch the show if you find it that offensive.

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