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on Restaurant: Impossible“Old, old, old, old” were the first words Robert Irvine said after arriving at the drab, outdated Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, S.C., a 16-year-old eatery owned by George Hayek Sr.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

    The Hayeks are really nice folks. Their sincerity came across in the program. This is the kind of R.I. show i like tuning-in to watch.

  2. Diane says:

    We bought an older mobile home in Myrtle Beach SC and we were looking for a good Italian restaurant to eat at. Right now we are only part timers until we retire in a couple of years. Saw the show last night and was very impressed. The Hayek family was so down to earth and really deserved this makeover. Next time we go down, we will eat at the restaurant. I wish them well and a healthy semi retirement. Thank you Robert and staff for helping a well deserved family.

  3. Sheila says:

    Really liked this family. Robert does great work in helping other. This place was beautiful when the team was done. I pray they make it.

  4. FNGossip says:

    Seems like the reviews of the place were good before the makeover too

  5. Olive Oil says:

    Just checking in to get the "latest dish." : )

  6. Russer Family says:

    I have been eating at Old World Italian for 2 years at least once a month. We stopped going there in September 2012 because the food went down hill and the place looked worn out, dark and dingy. After Robert was there in February we decided to try it again. Well the salad was warm, it took an hour for our food to come out and it honestly wasn't much better than before. I really like the Hayek family they are always welcoming. Unfortunately my family did not want to go back there again ( 1 week after RI was there). We just watched RI last night and would like to retry the place but have real reservations about going back to spend our hard earned money on something not worth the price.

  7. Virginia says:

    I want to start out by saying how much I love this show, and Chef Irvine. Now, for anyone who reads the comments, as I do, I have a question. I am somewhat technologically impaired, and don't understand a lot of what occurs on this new-fangled Internet thingy! I just caught up with several of the older updates, and was reading the comments, none of which made any sense at all, and seemed not to be about the update at all. There were 23 pages of comments, and nearly ALL of the first three or four pages were these weird comments. One of the comments mentioned that they were generated by a "bot." What is the purpose of these comments, and where do they come from? LOL This is the sort of question that will keep me up at night, so I would appreciate it if anyone can explain it to me!

    • S in MO says:

      People use them as a way to advertise. It's like junk mail or spam in your email!

    • MattfromWA says:

      I know exactly what you are talking about. I can't remember what restaurant update they were on, but I was just scrolling through all these comments saying "Huh?"

    • mike mn says:

      i think the blog site is basicly getting highjacked by some very overactive blogers that have nothing better to do..until they some how get booted out/blocked..

  8. Lpaulson says:

    Well it looks better than it was , but had a musty smell to it . Also the food was not good or the service . Did not get part of my meal had to take it home. Also the desert was old and stale. Called the next day to let them know. Offered compensation but did not want to go back last but least the waiter informed us that the tip was included in the bill but we could give him more. That topped it all off. Never going back not worth the money. Sorry! The owners seem nice, but we never saw them that night!

  9. Annie says:

    I am so happy to see the positive reviews and the positive results. To be honest, I was nervous about coming to this page and nearly didn't even though I scope out every RI restaurant after watching the show since they started outing the updates online. I wanted so badly for this family and this restaurant to do well that I didn't want to come here and find out they were doing poorly or hadn't improved. I'm so glad I went with my gut and looked anyway.
    My heart really goes out to this family. I wish them nothing but the best and, of course, lots of wonderful memories with their kids and grandkids.

  10. Kim says:

    This place is just around the corner from me. I'm a big fan of Food Network and was very excited to see RI coming for the make over. I drove by 3 and 4 times a day just to see if I could see Robert (never did). However I can't wait to eat there. I did drive by on Monday 4/22 and they were closed. I hope this was just a day off for the restaurant.

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