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on Restaurant: Impossible“Old, old, old, old” were the first words Robert Irvine said after arriving at the drab, outdated Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, S.C., a 16-year-old eatery owned by George Hayek Sr.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. peter says:

    Love this show! Robert is the best & I am glad to see that this restaurant is doing much better!

  2. Peter D says:

    These people were some of the nicest Robert has helped. They were able to lay aside what they had been doing and receive instruction from Robert. Most people he helps have egos that make it difficult for him to transform the business. Best of lucky to this very fine family and restaurant.

  3. Colorado chef says:

    Nice to see that they are doing better and took Robert's advice to heart.

    I have never ever seen a cook put flour, parsley and oil/butter into a cold saute' pan. I was half out of my chair yelling at the TV, "What are you doing?" Thankfully, George Jr was willing to learn, or should I say re-learn , the proper technique.

    Good luck to you guys! Have at it, George Jr!

  4. MaxM says:

    Great Show and glad to see they are doing well

  5. putzruss says:

    THe Old World Italian Restaurant was thebest make over yet- really looked good- can do over our house anytime!!!

  6. How is Mrs. Hayek's health? Bless her heart. Here's hoping she's able to relax and heal. What a sweet family!

  7. Robert Irvine says:

    Check out my recipes folks

    • guest says:

      show a southern classic banna puddin!

    • Beth says:

      On the show, I like watching you teach updated recipes & techniques to the resident chefs (while showing enough for the viewer to gleen tips too)…. most old dogs can learn a few new tricks!
      Robert, your passion is in cooking… thanks for sharing your chef talent to the majority of us who haven't had the benefit of culinary school. Simple classic dishes imparting loads of flavor is appreciated (like tomato sauces). Thanks!

    • Colorado chef says:

      Hey Robert,
      Great show!

      I've been a fan since the Dinner Impossible days. That was fantastic, just like real kitchen life: large quantities of food, watching the clock, equipment breaking, helpers making mistakes…..but in the end it all comes together. I've been doing it since '75 and I still love it.

      Cheers Robert, you're the real deal. Keep up the good work.

      Cooks rule!!!

    • Joseph & Amber says:

      Me and my wife loves your show. We are a bid fan of you and your show.

    • Gene Casiere says:

      Hi Robert, Just want to take a moment to say it was a pleasure to work with you on RI Old World as part of the build team. I have to say that your style has inspired me greatly and reminds me that cooking is supposed to be fun but especially the freshness and quality of ingredients. To many people today just go convenience, resulting in eating stuff with things you can not even pronounce (chemical additives) as you would say yuck, gross. Your shows and others along with my experience and passion for food has enabled me to go on to a professional level as a self taught chef and recipe developer, I thank you. I am not a suck-up person but i do owe you a debt of gratitude, also your recipes are great, not all of them but most (personal taste) Keep up the great work and hope to meet again. Thanks, Gene

      • Colorado chef says:

        Well done, Gene. Welcome to our world. Have you read the book Kitchen Confidential? An entertaining read.

        Good luck to you!

  8. Jared says:

    This is the type of makeover I like to see in the show. I really don't mind the product placement, seeing as how my skipping the commercials likely led to them being shown more prominently in the show (like Sysco and HGTV paint).

    I like the episodes where you have a good base to work with, and you're not spending most of your time cleaning up a disgusting kitchen/dining area, or playing Dr. Phil. George Jr. had his culinary training and just needed some refinement, and the updated decor looked great. These are the types of episodes that will keep me tuning in!

    • Bryan says:

      RI has been a favorite for some time now with my wife and now me. I believe this show has taken a turn -upwards- in quality and personally. I was moved in the producer/Robert's focus in caring for the people, touching them with compassion and sincere care, this season. Honesty and love in helping out the "Crisis" in people's lives IS why I see Robert Irvine has become the anchor for Food Network. You are doing the right thing, changing lives in the restaurant business, and the local community. Great job!

  9. Gary Berry says:

    Good show! I'm glad the owners weren't jerks or creeps, like most of the other shows! And glad to hear that there have been good results! (Again, not like others that end up closing down or selling out!)

  10. Wesley says:

    On May 6th I will be going to Myrtle Beach for a Vacation. Murrell's Inlet isn't that far. I am going down there to check the place out. Will give an update on what I find. Can't wait to see the new place.

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