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. FNGossip says:

    Nice to see owners and a family that actually appreciates the makeover after the past few weeks. Click on my name for more updates and reviews of Maniaci's.

  2. This place didn't have enough kitsch to be a dive. It was a DUMP. One of the best makeovers I have seen on the show. These seem to be very nice people who just got sloppy without adult supervision. It's nice to see that they are apparently being successful.

  3. Mitch says:

    Excellent remodel. The new menu looks delicious, looking forward to trying some of the recipes out.

  4. Ashley says:

    Is Tim still making the house dressing, do you think?

  5. ian says:

    when does the episode on fishkill, ny, restaurant, Captain Willy's Seafood Shack, air?

  6. Friends says:

    From some neighbors in Mohnton that know the family. It was great to see the revival of a Mohnton tradition transform. Great job guys can't wait for our next visit. Thank you Restaurant Impossible team for selecting and saving Maniacis!!!

  7. Brian says:

    $21k per month of revenue is only $700/day…. and no idea what expenses might be or how much per month the business may be making or losing after the expenses….? need better data to evaluate the success of the project and how long it might take to recover the capital spent on the reno. Hard to imagine that 15 people can survive without 2nd or 3rd jobs in this business…

  8. Mike says:

    How can it be cold and snowy the first day with everyone wearing winter jackets, while on the second day the snow is gone and every one is in short sleeve shirts?

  9. P_Fagioli says:

    Great to see a successful makeover for a good family, and even better to see Robert do a show in which he's not coming on as the second coming of Dr. Phil for dysfunctional restauranteurs. The new decor was very well done.

    Now if we could only skip the blatant product placement for a sponsor.

    • Visitor says:

      I assume you are talking about Sysco, though to me the placement of Lexus has always been almost as blunt.

      • P_Fagioli says:

        Is Lexus a sponsor? I'm not sure. Whoever did the Sysco placement, with the talk about "fresh chicken," deserves an Emmy for most in-your-face product placement.

      • anm_s_mom says:

        Let's also not forget Sherwin Williams on the paint cans. and Transitions lenses!

    • lesscan says:

      Its called sponsorship. Where do you think the $10K comes from.
      Just watch the show, you dont have to buy the products!

      • P_Fagioli says:

        You have a strange idea of what sponsorship is. Product placement is a revenue source but a different concept.. And usually done a bit more subtly than this.

        For most people, sponsorship is what happens every 15 mins. or so between scenes. That's more than enough to cover the ten grand.

        • Epic Fail says:

          "You have a strange idea of what sponsorship is. Product placement is a revenue source but a different concept.. And usually done a bit more subtly than this."

          More subtly? On one of my favorite shows, Justified, I just watched 2 of the most blatant examples of product placement I've ever seen. Through an entire season, everyone drank Wild Turkey, label in full view in every shot. There was also a scene that could have easily been cut down to a 15 second commercial for Dr. Pepper. Glock has been mentioned a number of times. That's only one show. If anything, product placement is getting far less subtle and more pervasive.

        • steve says:

          Product placement has become very common on TV and in movies. Wouldn't you do it if it was your network and it would make you more money?

    • Craim says:

      What is the big deal about sysco product placement?! No one seems to care when every can of paint openned is a screen shot of HGTV written in big letters. Besides, Robert and ri isn't doing the show for fun, they are trying to make money afterall so whats they big deal about Sysco and Lexus, if anything congrats on the big sponsors!

  10. GeekDavid says:

    As a person with a, shall we say, difference, though mine isn't as apparent as John's is, I'd like to commend Chef Robert (and, unless I miss my guess, the rest of the production team) for treating John just the same as the other brothers, and the same as he treats every other owner — no worse and no better.

    When it comes down to it, that's all most of us really want… to be treated like everyone else, except when it's not possible because of our individual challenges, of course.

    • WyoWind says:

      Geek…might want to take a lesson on comma use & run-on sentences. I have no idea what you just said!

    • Joanna says:

      Why wouldn't Robert and the staff treat John the same? I saw no obvious handicap to warrant any special treatment. It is sad GeekDavid that although your words were probably intended to mean well, you obviously DID see a handicap of some kind in John.

      • WyoWind says:

        Oh my goodness…now I get what he was saying!!!! Shame on him.

        • Nazratred says:

          Did wyowind and Joanna not see where geek david said he had the same difference as John? He probably gets people putting him down or staring or talking to him like a child, so he was commending Robert on treating John like every other person…just as geekDavid and other's like him such as john deserve to be.

          • WyoWind says:

            With all the commas & brackets – also containing commas – I honestly still can't tell what he is saying. I am taking your and Joanna's word for granted for what it actually says. I would suspect Joanna did not get what you got out of it.

          • Gomez Addams says:

            He did not write he has the same difference. He wrote, "As a person with a, shall we say, difference, though mine isn't as apparent as John's is"

    • mslewis says:

      John was treated like everybody else because he is NOT HANDICAPPED!! He is just shorter than other people. He tends bar and works a full-time job and has a family. What's "handicap" about that?

    • Annie says:

      I got what you were saying David, and I agree. It was refreshing that no one was treating him in a condescending manner, questioning his abilities, treating him with kid gloves, or treating him more harshly.

      When you have different abilities than most of the population and/or are just plain disabled (which I am. I'm not a fan of the term, but it's the most apt general description of my challenges because I truly am not able-bodied.) people do treat you differently. Period.
      It is refreshing when a television show treats someone who is visibly different from the majority of people the same as the majority. Like it or not our society and culture takes a lot of cues from the media and having the media portray everyone as individuals based on who they are, not what they look like or what they can or can't do is a huge step in the right direction.

      • GeekDavid says:

        Thanks, Annie. That's pretty much what I was saying.

        What's interesting in my case is that my challenge (hemophilia) isn't readily apparent to the naked eye… and I've seen some people's reactions to me change when they find out about it. Suddenly I'm in a different category in their mind, and so they treat me differently.

      • Annie says:

        I see that too. My disabilities are only visible if I happen to be using my walking cane. Some people find out I'm disabled and treat me like I'm made of china. Like I'm incredibly fragile physically, emotionally and mentally. Others end up treating me as if I'm the scourge of the Earth because since they can't see any obvious signs of my disabilities they assume that I making it all up. That I'm lazy, a mooch and just generally everything that is wrong with society.
        It's incredibly frustrating. Sometimes I feel like screaming because I'd really like to just be treated like everyone else and judged based on who I am, not what I can and can't do.

    • Billy bob says:

      Seriously?! You have to be that rude?!

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