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. JdiStefano33 says:

    I never in a million years I thought I'd see a restaurant from my tiny hometown of Mohnton, let alone one I used to love when I still lived there, on Restaurant Impossible! I was just checking out this site, saw Maniaci's, and thought, "No freaking way. That CAN'T be the Maniaci's in Mohnton, PA!" Was I shocked to see it was!

    From what I recall when I was still living there 15 years ago, Maniaci's definitely had potential. The food then was delish! Back in the day, they were a favorite weekend treat. Don't know what happened in the years between, but I'm so grateful to Robert Irvine for helping these guys out. This was a great place, and if they needed the help, nobody deserved it more.

    To Geoff, John and Tim, and the whole Maniaci's crew, I wish you the best of continued luck! I'm sending some positive Sedona vortex vibes your way! Even though I'm an AZ girl now, it sooooo made my day to see a taste of one of my original favorite hometown places here on R.I. I KNOW from experience that you have what it takes to succeed, and I can't wait to eat at your new and improved restaurant next time I visit my folks back home.

  2. Dan R says:

    I ate at Maniaci's after realizing that I only live about 30 min away. I watch Restaurant Impossible pretty regularly, so I thought it would be fun to check it out and play the role of the critic with my wife. Aside, from the cucumbers, which were clearly rotten, on my salad the rest of the food was very good. However, you can tell that they still have some serious mismanagement issues and I would be surprised if they are able to stay open. I heard the table next to us tell the waitress they would never be back due to the restaurant refusing to take their coupon because the customers presented it after the bill was delivered. Two others on here have also posted that Maniacis refused to refund their money after serving them inedible food. It sounds like the management is pushing customers away when they are clearly in the wrong. If the restaurant closes because the management is simply making brainlessly stupid choices, then are going to get what they deserve

  3. Joe E says:

    First time I've every visited this site. I wanted to see if the post-show results would be "glossed over". Very glad to see the Food Network allows free and open discussion, even discussion critical of the sponsors of the show. "Keeping it real" – even when that reality is not a positive outcome, will serve the show and network well.
    To those critical of food service's such as Sysco and hyping the "buy local" mantra, spare me please. It is neither Green nor necessarily healthful to only buy local. Every major restaurant with reasonable prices purchases some products from a supplier such as Sysco. I, for one, welcome their sponsorship of this show I get to enjoy for free.

  4. Phil says:

    I don't know what all the comments about Sysco have to do with the wonderful program I love to watch. I can say that from experience, when Sysco supplies a restaurant, the food quality improves tremendously. I know local businesses need to make a profit also, but very hard to compete with quality of a company who can buy the big order freshness. Also, beware of favorable comments about the competition. It seems that they could possibly be the competition making those comments. One can criticize an establishment, but when they mention the competitor, it usually turns out to be them. I love what Robert and Food Network are doing, and that's giving a business a second chance. No one else seems to be doing it. Go get them Robert!

    • Jojo says:

      Monsanto has a major stake in Sysco, so we can count on the food supplied being genetically modified, or fed gmo feed. Most restaurants buy premade soups, sauces, and other assorted frozen crap, so the majority of restaurants are food reheaters. I can do that at home without wondering how filthy the kitchen is

    • Tom says:

      Well, my general comment about Robert and his rescues are that they are nice and heartwarming, but does anybody stop and look at the owners and the food they are serving. They all look like they eat their crap. Does Sysco provide certified organics? Does anybody fiter their water? Check seasonings for MSG? Is the food non-GMO? Is the meat factory specials complete with hormones? Fry in bad oils? Serve pasteurized dairy products? And so on. Robert, you need to go on a non-grain, non dairy diet, if you can take a hint. I can't go out to eat anymore, commercial restaurants for the huge part do not serve real food anymore. They are bad for you in so many ways unless they make the special effort to learn what real food and nutrition is. These owners on these shows are clueless, and Robert never goes near the subject. Toxic garbage. Better they fail.

      • @betzva says:

        And the anti GMO folks are going to preside over the starvation of countless children in impoverished countries thanks to the NO MODIFIED anything pov. Enriched rice is under assault even though it could alleviate the suffering in nations in Africa, but the EU and other utopians would rather see children starve on the flimsy "new" science. Shame on you and those who can apply their "first-world problems"on people who would gladly accept a life expectancy of 50 yrs. Your self obsession would not matter at all if not for your self inflated role in the statist food police

  5. cindy lightner says:

    Went the other night to give Maniaci's a try. I only watched the show after we went there. The place was dirty, with taped signs on the doors out front of wheree to go in at. There was only one other table with diners so we should have gotten good service and great food. Wrong! While the decor was nice…The only thing good about the experience was the Bread. The hostess did not know the menu. The waitress did not either. The salad had an odd taste. the spagetti and meatballs was not edible. The sauce tasted like non seasoned right out of the can. The meatballs were an odd texture and had a spice in that was so overwheming in a bad way that you could no longer tell it was probably hamburger? The pizza margarita was a lot of crust on the edge with nothing on, the oil dripped off it, there were 4 pieces on tomato on a very small amunt of sauce and 4 chucks of unmelted cheese. Not good at all. When we asked aobut the odd tastes etc…the waitress did not offer to get managemnt, just said she ws glad at least we liked the bread. No offer of another meal on the house or cutting down the ticket for us. We will defintiely not go back. And celing tiles were still stained! Noone cared that we had a ad experience.

  6. THOMAS DEIKE says:

    WOW, in your mothers honor you guys should all keep here dream alive and going strong for many years,god bless you all…

  7. Julie says:

    $15-$21 K in monthly sales does not sound like significant improvement. That translates to $5K for labor….

  8. Keri says:

    I am going to Maniacis tomorrow night with my friends. After reading some of these posts I am a bit reluctant. After watching the show my heart went out to the family. I just hope that I am not disappointed!

  9. bingopokerslots says:

    To all of those that are beyotching about Sysco —

    Are you all that stupid???? How many times have you seen ALL of the food thrown away? Where do you think the NEW STOCK comes from? The owner is broke and sinking and cannot afford to re-stock.

    I think one or two ads is more than enough to offset what Sysco provides for these businesses!!!!

  10. Denise Zuschmidt says:

    My boyfriend and I had been in the restaurant and really enjoyed ourselves.We re goi8ng on vacation soon so won't be able4 to come back until we get back. Please do me a favor an fix the curtain in the f ont window.I'd really appreciate it because those are things that are noticed. Thank you Denise

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