Restaurant Revisited: Father’s Second Chance at Old World Italian Restaurant

by in Shows, April 21st, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“Old, old, old, old” were the first words Robert Irvine said after arriving at the drab, outdated Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, S.C., a 16-year-old eatery owned by George Hayek Sr. and Teresa Hayek. This husband-and-wife duo started the business with their son, George Hayek Jr., after the latter had graduated from culinary school. In the last five years, they’ve noticed a steep decline in customers, which ultimately has resulted in losses of nearly $1,000 per day and the complete elimination of their retirement savings. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team tackled fresh, modern updates to Old World Italian’s old-fashioned decor, its bland menu and unstructured management in an effort to give the Hayek family a second chance at success. FN Dish checked in with George Sr. a few months after the transformation to find out how his business is doing today.

“I am happy to report that the makeover has been a smashing success,” he tells FN Dish. “Our sales are up 35 percent since the show has left.”

They’ve since hired a manager to run front-of-house operations, and “George Jr. has taken the reins in the back of the house,” George Sr. explains. The kitchen is now far more effective at handling a high-volume of orders in a little time, he adds, noting that “Kitchen times have been cut by half, and the food looks great coming out of the kitchen. Doing 135 plates an evening used to be taxing, but now, with a much more efficient kitchen, 135 plates is done smoothly.”

All aspects of the renovation have been well-received by much of Old World Italian’s clientele, as George explains that “9 out of 10 [customers] have said that our food, service and atmosphere have greatly improved.”

The employees are also pleased with changes at the restaurant, said George Sr., noting that “the staff feels like there is clear direction and accountability.” They’ve taken steps to ensure that “people are now welcomed with a smile at the door, served with a smile and are given a warm ‘thank you’ for spending their hard-earned money” in the restaurant.

George Sr. tells FN Dish that he and his wife “are enjoying their semi-retirement and can breathe again.” To Robert and the entire Restaurant: Impossible team, he says thank you “for injecting life and vigor back into our operation.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Joe Willy’s Seafood House (April 14)
Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering (March 24)
Soup to Nuts Diner (March 17)
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 (108)

  1. Cindy B. in Dallas says:

    My heart went out to Teresa the moment I saw her. She looks like such a sweet lady, and it's hard to live with a failing business and a cranky husband. I truly hope they turn things around and that the restaurant is a success. I feel bad that a huge corporate giant like Carraba's came in and took some of their business, but I suppose that if the restaurant were truly stellar, then Carraba's wouldn't have been able to take the business away. I wish the very best for the family!!! Good luck to all of you, especially Teresa!

  2. Anon says:

    Looks like this show didnt even help.….

    Old World Italian for sale, 199,900

  3. Lori says:

    I love this show. Can't wait for the next one! How in the world can he get so much accomplished in 2 days?
    RI works his butt off. Has great ideas. But
    how does he know how to make all the different

  4. Greg Goodfellow says:

    I would like to see RI visit each restaurant 6-8 weeks after each makeover and give us a peek at how things have improved-if they have indeed improved-or if the doors were closed.

  5. Tamadhur says:

    My husband and I were curious to see a Robert Irvine-renovated restaurant so we visited Old World Italian when we were in Myrtle Beach last week. The restaurant was clean and the service was the best we've ever had. Our server, Mac, was very attentive, helpfully explained the menu (which was very streamlined), and even made fresh lemonade to order! The food was tasty and the quantities generous. We could tell where some of the decor had been updated, but it did look as though the chairs might have been in the original restaurant. Altogether, it was a nice experience.

  6. Karen says:

    Imwish that if more than $10,000 is needed, the show would give it. Sometimes things look cheep. I think if more than 2 days are needed, it should be done and I absolutely hate going to my computer to see how the business is doing. Not everyone has a computer and I think it's rude to leave people hanging…wondering how things turned out. Gordon Ramsey doesn't do that!

  7. KAG says:

    Ate at Old World Italian last night after a several year hiatus. The decor is vastly improved but I suspect RI would not be happy with the faux flowers in the bud vases on each table. I also found it interesting that our entrees were served in plastic bowls, albeit "fancy" plastic bowls. Had the bruschetta appetizer; my husband thought it was great. Me? Not so much. A matter of personal taste, obviously. Our entrees were sizeable (chicken francaise and parradelle) but not "over-the-top" as I'd hoped. We were greeted by a cheery hostess and our waiter was appropriately attentive. I did notice that the vast majority of the patrons were clearly Medicare-eligible (as are my husband and I). No sign of George or Teresa. That's a good thing!

  8. Barbara Crass says:

    I agree with other comments that I'd love to see RI to revisit within a certain amount of time to see if it's actually changed for the best and not just the first evening we see on the show RI.
    I love the show and we now go to restaurants and say to ourselves, "what could RI do with this place?"

    • Lucy says:

      I would love that too, since it seems that a ton of those featured on Kitchen Nightmares with Gordon Ramsey seem to die horrific deaths…

    • T.Marlowe says:

      I agree too. There is no finer food on the planet than GOOD Italian food. There is also nothing WORSE than half-assed Italian food! Throw overpriced ontop of half-assed and you have a restaurant that's going to die!

  9. SpacemanSpiff61 says:

    MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) – The owners of Old World Italian say it has been a tough summer, and they just can't afford to stay open anymore.

    Read more at…

    • Joan says:

      So sad that it closed …

    • michael bloom says:

      Is Robert Irvine a fake, an incompetent or a snake oil salesman. How could he not mention that the Old World started to go downhiull when a Carrabas Italian Eatery opened right next door. The restaurant has closed down. I do not think that Murrells Inlet restaurant business need Irvine.

    • Debbie says:

      I have eaten at Old World for years. Loved it prior to RI coming. Afterwards the food was very one dimensional. Menu was paired down to almost nothing. Changed the red sauce and it was awful. Service lousy as well. Sad that he messed them up and now they are gone for good. Even with carrabbas next door, I still used to prefer Old World before RI and came in and wrecked things.

      • Eric says:

        yes, he wrecked things in two days! He is certainly responsible for the "lousy" service. He starts them on a smaller menu, but they can add to it. They own the place. But, of course, it is all his fault. Robert goes into places that are about to die. Of course some of them die, but quite a few turn around.

      • Anonymous says:

        Debbie, the whole reason RI was there was bc they were closing and losing money, so to blame RI is pretty ridiculous.. Robert Irvine has a 79% success rate with RI and people I believe envy him so they down talk him.. He gave these people a new start, what ever they did wrong after RI left is on them not Robert!

  10. Steve says:

    All I can say is I had a great time working with Tom, yes I was part of the team that helped both days and worked side by side with Tom and he is a great carpenter and Robert was great. I live in murrells inlet and am sad to see all the time and money was a waste. The have closed the doors and are selling it. Thanks for the great time Robert and Tom….. I wish I could be on the show again.

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