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. george merkich says:

    I tried this restraunt about 3 weeks after Robert and his team left. for a simple lunch sandwich order it took almost 45 minutes for it to come from the kitchen. the tables along the wall are gone and the torn and dirty booths are back. I could not believe that after all your work that it went back to the way it was before.

  2. Deborah Ann says:

    I love the show, he (Robert Irvine) is tough but his heart and the show is there to do good for all involved. However, the owner of Soup and Nuts set me off. What a poor excuse of a restaurant owner and that smart mouth low life punk flipping the camera off, what an uneducated loser. There is no excuse to have allowed the business to be that dirty, especially with it being slow. They could have used that time to clean, and the unsafe way the food was stored, the owner should have been run out of town. I think her son is admirable. When the owner started the show not believing her restaurant was that bad, nor taking responsibility, I would have walked out. I doubt she will maintain the restaurant once Robert and the show leaves. I'd like to get my hands on that punk Robert fired, what a loser.

  3. doug says:

    Robert i can't understand why the city had not closed this place. A mess that made me sick to watch. The owner should hire someone who knows how to manage all aspects of the business. Keep up the good work for hopefully being instrumental in turning these places around.

  4. Managing says:

    I'm amazed that every restaurant looks like a cafeteria, when they are done. On this one, the wood wall was nice. They need to do something better with the money. perhaps if they watch some design shows, they could come up with some ideas that aren't so bland.
    Constantly pushing "fresh food" is cheaper, but yet Sysco is one of the sponsors is kind of silly. You don't get fresh food off a truck shipment. It's better than the processed stuff, but it's not fresh. If you want them to pick up fresh for you (if they offer that), it will cost way more than their packaged stuff. This, you should know will toss the food cost out the window.
    Additionally, no one takes into account the cost of prepping fresh food, nor the waste when it doesn't sell. Certainly it should be used, by all means, but a little reality is important.

    I did notice in this episode, that Robert didn't push the fresh button. But who could be concerned with anything else but cleaning there? Yikes!

    I certainly enjoy the show, it does let people know how some places are, that are family run. Did anyone notice that it was okay for her son, but everyone else was on notice? Didn't we already establish that Sharon was a big part of the problem?

    • Don says:

      Im not sure…but I think her son, may have been "disabled", well thats not the word, but Im trying to be nice.
      As far as fresh food…yes, fresh food is always the best. But, its knowing how to use it.
      Fresh… doesn't exactly mean right off the farm. It means making stuff from scratch, etc, and not using processed frozen junk. Yes, sometimes you have to freeze things, etc. But it was made fresh, and frozen, and used within a week or two…… shouldn't be kept any longer than that ever.

  5. Ima says:

    Obviously cleaning is NOT included in part of the owner's 100 hour work week. All that crud in the kitchen didn't happen overnight. It's amazing that anyone (owner) and everyone (staff) could be that oblivious to such a disgusting mess!

    • Nanna Debra says:

      TOTALLY Discussing is telling it lightly
      Now I know why I got sick when I ate there……………
      I wish the food net would relay the show for the customers to see…….
      Nanna Debra

  6. Gail P says:

    Went there a few weeks back for brunch. Ordered coffee & a grilled cheese sandwich. Had to ask twice for a spoon, was never offered a refill and the grilled cheese was burned on one side. Couldn't find the waiter (there were only 4 tables with people) so ate it anyway since I had to be somewhere else.

    Went back again (maybe the first time was a fluke) for breakfast. Ordered eggs over medium (whites cooked), coffee and a pancake. The eggs came and were virtually raw (the whites were still clear and runny) and I couldn't get the waitresses attention because she was busy visiting with friends. She only had two tables with customers. When she finally showed up and was also disgusted with the eggs she apologized and took the eggs. She brought them back and left. I opened them but the whites were still runny, so they went back a third time. When they were returned to me they were completely solid, like eating a hard boiled egg. I was never offered a refill on the coffee and even though the waitress discounted my meal 10% she shorted my change a dollar. I told her I took the $1.00 out of her tip. I won't go back – ever!

    • sam says:

      See, I'd never send food back twice. I've heard too many stories from people who worked in restaurants about how the kitchen staff "got even" with "problem" customers by dropping the food on the floor or taking turns spitting in it before sending it back out.

      For me, it's either edible when it first hits the table or I don't eat and never go back!!

    • sisgldnhair says:

      Can't fix stupid!

  7. Kim says:

    I've worked in restaurant many years, and from what I have seen over the years, the younger the employees, the lazier. They are only there to make gas & party money, as mom and dad pay for everything else. Shame on the owner for becoming so complacent. I think this renovation did more harm than good, as the general public's perception of this business will never be where it should be due to the disgusting lack of care.

  8. david says:

    The kitchen makeover was remarkable, but I think they need to fire the health inspector(?), and would love to see the last score before the clean up. My parents owned a small restaurant in the late "50's, and was closed on Sunday. That was the day I earned my $5.00 a wk allowance by helping them do the wkly scrub-down, along with the daily clean up. The kitchen was spotless and my parents kept an A rating.

  9. richard says:

    From the number of negative comments from people who've been to the restaurant after the show it sounds like nothings changed sadly. A little off topic I am a little surprised that within 3 pages of comments only one mentioned the degenerate dish washer's disrespectful attitude. Have parents become that bad that this type of behavior is not shocking? No wonder there's been so many shootings, kids are raised with no discipline, morals, respect, or training and yes a slap on the back of the head after saying or doing something that's unacceptable is training not child abuse for you clueless libs.

    • grace says:

      the new restaurant 441 café is great the food was great so much I had to take half of it home. the owner of soup 2 nuts was rude to customer that were not regular . the night my son and I were in there she was all over the regular customer. she never came to see if everything was ok not one time to us. the new people were over to check to see if everything was ok after they served the food when she pasted to take care of other customers she would asked if everything was ok she came back to see if we needed more to drink then checked if we wanted desert . then to bring are bill. they were very nice and friendly at the new
      restaurant not like soup 2 nuts who were rude and unfriendly no wonder she went out of business.

  10. robert,

    have you ever thought of becoming a minister? your shows are touching.
    just hope the owners take to heart what you teach!

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