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. Magic says:

    It seemed like RI sold out to Sysco to me. Seems disparate.

  2. phillies80 says:

    I live about four miles from Mohnton, yet I am not compelled to try out the new and "improved" Maniaci's. I find it disturbing that the owners had to be "reminded" that their restaurant needed to be dusted and kept clean. Isn't that pretty obvious under Restaurant Management 101?

    • Joanne says:

      Robert only found one space that wasn't cleaned. I am sure if he found others, it would of been shown in the show. Overall the restaurant was clean. No dirty kitchen, etc. I haven't been to Maniacis recently due to health problems but when I used to go, it was always clean.

    • Guide says:

      I would give much on the representation of the issues. For the show to attract viewers things have to be dramatized. How else can it become a "Restaurant Impossible"? The staff has to be either portrayed as dumb as possible or the place needs to be dancing with rodents so that Robert can perform magic in two days. The staff and owners take the lick because business still improves and they get a decent uplift for the place out of it. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

    • Burl says:

      I agree with Joanne go to any restaurant and I bet you will find something. I thought it refreshing that the kitchen wasn't crawling in filth as a lot of times (on other shows) that's the way it's been.

  3. Colorado chef says:

    Good luck, Maniacis.

    You guys really seemed to take Robert's advice to heart. And a great make-over.

    The business is not as easy as it looks, but if you are on top of it you can make a little money. You have to be relentless in over sight of the staff, food quality and service, cleanliness.

    Best of luck.

  4. Magic says:

    90% of restaurants prefer sustainable and local alternatives. Sysco has shareholders to satisfy. The truth of the matter is that the food network has alienated me and 90% of the rest of the food service industry.

    • Colorado chef says:

      Interesting statements, Magic.

      Since Sysco is probably the biggest vendor in the country, I'm guessing that they have likely NOT alienated 90 percent of restaurants.

      I don't use Sysco anymore because of issues with their service, but they are huge. I use local vendors who are more nimble and can give me better prices and service. I was not happy with that box of Sysco chicken on the table, but that's my problem.

      Food network has to make a profit and they do it by attracting advertisers. No profit, no show.

    • John says:

      90% of the Mom & Pops, maybe….not the big chains and certainly not any of the restaurants where I work on the Las Vegas Strip (I see a Sysco truck out back almost daily). I'm curious where exactly you came up with your "90%" figure.

    • Leslie says:

      Have you noticed he no longer takes owners to local food markets to showcase the fresh regional foods? If he did, he would be in direct conflict with Sysco. No surprise to me.

      • Ryan says:

        Yeah that is one bad part of this. I think people WANT to buy local when we can, but economic realities are what make a lot of restaurants use Sysco

    • foody7 says:

      Nope. Not 90% more like the noisy 10%. Stop your whining vote with your money like a good strong American. Sponsors are a reality. Why aren't you whining about the blatant SUV placement. Aren't SUVs on the whining American agenda also? Go get busy with your own life. You won't have time to whine.

  5. Mike M says:

    Two quick comments- #1 why does it seem like these owners are always surprised when Robert is forceful and direct on day 1? It seems like these people have never seen the show before and don't know what to expect- are they complete imbeciles? #2 Is the designer Cheryl "with child", or has she simply put on about 40 lbs since the last time I saw her on this show?

    Overall- great episode and I wish these brothers the best going forward.

  6. Carrol Gonzalez says:

    Wish you all the best. I believe you have a chance.

  7. Karla says:

    Best of luck to the brothers, they seem like a nice family! Stay positive. Great job Robert! U r my hero!

  8. Dara says:

    I am curious to see if anyone has been at the restaurant recently. I live relatively close and have never heard of this place before the show.. although I really have no reason to travel to Mohnton. I had heard that the place was no longer doing as well as it was right after the show was filmed. The initial report was that business had somewhat slowed down after the holidays which is to be expected, however I also heard that the servers were also filling in as cooks and that Tim had left the business… Anyone hear anything like this or know how the place is doing? They seem like really nice people, I hope that things are going well.

  9. joni says:

    I hate to say this. I went in this week, and despite them advertising dinner started at 4, it actually started at 5. My vodka tonic was flat (they mentioned they had problems with this), and the bathroom was filthy. I did not stay for the meal. It does not cost alot to clean.

  10. guest says:

    Went there last week. My house salad was greens a cherry tomato cut in half and one cucumber slice. The beer was warm and had to wait forever for refills. Dinner was ok, they seemed to be out of a lot, including scallop dinner and some desserts. In the end, I dont think I will be going back.

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