Restaurant Revisited: Soup to Nuts Diner

by in Shows, March 17th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleSoup to Nuts Diner in Tavares, Fla., was in such poor condition when Robert Irvine arrived that he promptly deemed the restaurant “dangerously dirty” and refused to let anyone eat the food coming out of the kitchen. Littered with bugs and coated in dust, this 1950s-style eatery featured a cluttered dining room with tattered seating, but unfortunately for owner Sharon Whitmore, even more serious problems were in the kitchen. There, Robert found tools and equipment caked with grease, raw meat being kept at unsafe temperatures and a complete lack of management among the cooks.

For the last four years, Soup to Nuts has struggled with decreasing business, and Sharon admits that prior to Robert’s visit she was losing nearly $1,000 per month, which resulted in the foreclosure of her home. With a $10,000 budget and only two days to work, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reworked all aspects of her restaurant, deep cleaning every surface in the front and back of the house, demonstrating the how-tos of making a fresh menu and restructuring Sharon’s schedule so that she’d be able to abandon her 100-hour workweeks. At the end of what Robert called “one of the most-ambitious projects we’ve ever tackled,” Soup to Nuts reopened to hundreds of customers with in-control management at the helm. We checked in with Sharon a few months after the renovation to find out how her business is doing.

She tells us that in the weeks immediately following filming, Soup to Nuts was “overwhelmed with” a 40 percent increase in business, and now the restaurant is “up consistently about 20 percent over last year.”

While they’ve made a few tweaks to the decor like additional paint, new blinds and adding “a door from the front counter area and a wall so the kitchen is no longer seen by the dining room,” Sharon, the staff and much of the customer base have been wowed by the other changes at the eatery.

Employees are now washing the restaurant each night, Sharon tells us. “I have had to get on the cooks for poor closes a few times, but Alan is closing five nights a week to reinforce a proper, clean closing.”

In terms of management, Sharon has interviewed several applicants, but she’s yet to hire a full-time lead cook. Jeanie is still working at Soup to Nuts, as Sharon believes that she “grew from the experience,” explaining that “she is not as hotheaded.” Sharon adds that “several of the people who gave [her] the most grief are not [t]here anymore.”

Soup to Nuts is still serving its original offerings but with additional dishes from Robert’s menu, including fried green tomatoes, disco fries, salmon burgers and roasted chicken.

For the most part, Sharon is sticking to the schedule she developed with Robert. “With Alan staying and riding his bike home, the restaurant has guidance and supervision,” she explains. “I am very thankful for the privilege to have been picked for this experience,” she adds, looking back on the renovation. “I am happy personally and with my restaurant’s makeover and volume.” She is no longer living with her parents and is looking forward to what the rest of the year brings to her business.

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Caseyville Cafe (March 13)
Maniaci’s Italian Restaurant (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 (300)

  1. CleanSafeFood says:

    In Florida, the Health Departments have NO say over restaurants. The Department of BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL Regulation inspects restaurants and you can see by the TV program just how thorough they are!!! You can thank the wonderful State of Florida legislature for the laws which "protect" the public's health…NOT! Not every place is as dirty, but it isn't because of the regulations or enforcement!

    • James says:

      Having inside knowledge of the restaurant business in Florida I can tell you that the inspectors are good but they have been rendered powerless to actually close anything down. In the lest few years I've only actually seen one place closed down for violations and the only reason they even did that was because they hadn't had a valid license for over a year. This place should have been shutdown every time it was inspected. Go to the Florida department of business and professional regulation and look up their past inspections. They had to be inspected twice just this week because they observed so many violations. It looks like she right back to her old ways with a disgusting kitchen. More people need to check inspection reports where they eat, a copy of the last one should be made available upon request at the establishment. The state needs to have a posted grading system for people to do see at the door as well. It's not hard to keeps kitchen clean if you wipe it down everyday and give it a good cleaning weekly.

  2. C. J. says:

    Great improvement, great show. Robert and Sysco keep up the good work. You win some and you lose some. Great decor. IF SALES HAVE REALLY INCREASE–BINDS WOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM. SOME PEOPLE ARE JUST–UNCLASSY.

  3. C. J. says:

    "BLINDS" wouldn't be a problem!!!!

  4. Dave says:

    This is a general comment. The last several episodes are striking me as owners trying to get a quick and free remodel and a jumpstart on their business. They all seem to be more interested in the drama aspect and being on TV instead of being truly desperate and wanting to turn their place around. I agree with others who have said that a more thorough investigation needs to be conducted, prior to deploying the resources of the Food Network to a location.

    • sam says:

      I'd love the show to focus entirely on owners who just don't know how to run a restaurant. Costing food is not necessarily something people understand off the tops of their heads. For people who simply start a restaurant with no industry experience, the standards to which staff should be held might be a mystery. For anyone who didn't grow up in a third world country (and most of them), letting a kitchen get so filthy you can stick a cup to the wall in the caked grease is just pure "don't give a damn".

      For me, the ideal format of this show would be about training owners to run a business and staff to do their jobs. Though it would kill their whole urgency schtick, I'd even like to see the design done away with – Replacing a filthy and worn carpet, sure. Trying to show how creatively you can make abstract art from crap, that belongs on the Home Improvement channel. At least half the episodes leave me thinking, "Ummm, don't they realize someone's going to have to clean that thing they built?"

      The bottom line is I wish they would select people who just need help, not people who obviously don't care.

    • Mike D says:

      Absolutely agree 100%.

      This is starting to seem more staged and more about shock value than the first few seasons of RI. It's even approaching the level of shows from… the other hotheaded chef from the UK.

      The production crew needs to realize that the enjoyment from RI came from watching people learn to market, gain the advantage and work on the food. I don't need to watch 20 minutes of cleaning from people who don't care.. I'd like to see something that puts a little more faith in humanity.

  5. Mavis says:

    I have eaten there a few times but now I will never go back. Do you think having someone come in and clean your room for you , its going to stay that way? Once a pig, always a pig!

  6. Nancy says:

    I'm sorry, but I just can't watch another episode. I am only this site for my husband to see how it went.

  7. Nancy says:

    I just want to add that Robert Irvine is a GREAT CHEF, one of my favorites, and he deserves a better showing on the Food Network than this show gives him!

  8. Ned and Ruth says:

    The last time we ate there I got sick, Should I try again. Did you get a good cook????? That one was bad and did not care what went out or what it oooked like. does not know what looks good. Again, RV &NV

  9. gary porter says:

    There is a difference between working at the restaurant 100 hours a week, and being at the restaurant 100 hours a week.

  10. M. R. says:

    Husband and I ate at S2N acouple weeks ago after church. I have eaten there before. I found it to be much cleaner than before. Servers much nicer but the food was not as good as it use to be. The burger was very bland. They use to have great burgers. My husband said his food was also very bland.
    To bad I would very much like to help her by going there more often but I don't think we will be doing that.
    Good job with the cleaning and makeover.

    • Colleen says:

      "…food was not as good as it USED to be." "They USED to have great burgers." Used, not use.

      Did it occur to you that maybe the "flavor" in the food came from all the disgusting dirt and grease in which it was cooked?

      • Blondie says:

        This is not grammar class Colleen!

        • Colleen says:

          Of course it's not. It's a website dedicated to a trivial TV show. But there's a lot to be said for knowing how to speak properly. M.R. should be grateful someone was willing to correct her, since obviously no one bothered to teach her proper speech as she was growing up. Why have language at all if you can't be bothered to learn how to use it correctly? Have a great day, sweetie.

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