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on Restaurant: Impossible“Old, old, old, old” were the first words Robert Irvine said after arriving at the drab, outdated Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet, S.C., a 16-year-old eatery owned by George Hayek Sr.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. Emellgee1 says:

    Robert did a great job, although more time should have been devoted to the food and less to the psychological problems of George, Sr. Theresa was probably the nicest person ever to appear on one of Robert's shows.

  2. Gene Casiere says:

    As a local to Murrells Inlet My wife and I have frequented the restaurant over the years and had noticed a decline in the quality as well as the service. As late diners we have had several occasions to sit with George and Theresa after dinner over a dessert and coffee. They are wonderful people and would go out of their way to please. I feel that the times have changed a lot recently and the amount of up keep and changes that were necessary just became overwhelming. Think in terms if you have an outdated kitchen in your home that drastically needs to be redone but little money to spend…….how does that make you feel? I am proud to say that I had a major role in the remodel of the restaurant and was happy to be a part of the build team. As part of the behind the scenes stuff all I can say is Robert, Tom, Nicole and the rest of the team are some of the nicest people I ever met. The Hayeks' are very sincere and a down home american family trying to present a warm friendly atmosphere as if you we in your own home with family and friends. They are not a corporate owned establishment that has the stringent guidelines and rules for everything. They are just a good bunch trying to please by doing what they enjoy. Don't judge badly for 1 bad day, "be kind and speak you mind" you might be surprised at the results. I have never been let down and will continue to return to my favorite restaurant where I know I always be welcome. Sorry for being long winded I'm Italian but I just get emotional sometimes. See you at Old World. Gene

  3. John says:

    I live in Murrells Inlet, SC approx 2 miles away from Old world. I ate at the restaurant 1 time before the make over and 1 time after. The only significant change, unfortunately, was the decor. Food still over priced and bland, with much better options less then 1 mile away for same prices and on the Inlet river looking out toward the Ocean even. I heard good things about Old World many years back, but a Carrabas did open almost directly neighboring the restaurant. I hope RI does help the business, but I have my doubts. Good Luck in the future.

  4. Dlosier1967 says:

    Does anybody have a problem with the loud head banging music they play during different times of the show? A lot of the time I can't understand what is being said or follow what is going on due to the distraction! I see no need for the background music to be so loud and overpowering! It's supposed to be background music, thus named! It is at the point that it is ruining the show for me and my family. It's a shame when you can't enjoy a show due to distracting loud guitar music being played overpowering the star and theme of the show! I'm almost at the point that I'm going going to quit watching something I can't enjoy! The show didn't start out this way, I don't know who makes the editing decisions to put that junk overlayed on such a good program. [polldaddy 7066222 polldaddy]

  5. Millicent Imamoto says:

    i remember hearing that Teresa had a blood illness and would like to get some information to her if possible. My email is LIMAMOTO@HOTMAIL.COM

  6. mgil says:

    Most beautiful and impressive transformation ever on the show! Looking forward to more by this designer.

    • Tess says:

      I agree! I just watched this episode this evening and I thought the exact same thing. Beautiful design, absolutely love the blue and the beautiful wall designs. My favorite makeover to date!

    • Viv says:

      I thought the design was boring!!! What are you related to the designer….. or is this you Robert?!?!?! LOL

  7. CK Frangos says:

    Visited Old World Italian a couple of weeks ago — YUK! Romaine leaves were yellow & wilted, salad plate was warm, so much for a cool, crispy Ceasar salad; bruschetta appetizer totally soggy; ordered veal sub for eggplant parm and got one little piece of veal and the rest was eggplant! This was supposed to be a substitute not a combo. One common denominator to the before and after makeover is the so-called chef. He needs a refresher course in culinary school. As far as the new decor, it's great. Gone is the dark and dingy and the new color scheme totally works. Now if only the kitchen would get its act together. And BTW, who makes sauce without tasting??? Never really cared for this place before and even with makeover, I won't go back.

  8. E Coli says:

    Why don't you have a show whereby the restaurant fails totally and completely? It's hard to believe that Big Robert is able to save every single eating joint presented. Another absurd factor in your Restaurant Impossible show is that you script every owner or key employee to be adamantly opposed to Robert's proposed changes until there's only 10 minutes left in the program. And then, like having received the blessings of God, the owner/key employee "sees the light"!!! "Praise the Lord" they gleefully shout! I know all this garbage is scripted, but PLESE give us something besides the same ole BS ending.

    • Rebecca says:

      Actually if you read up on some of the other shows, they are unsuccessfull. Some of thm have closed down. And regardless of the point of the show, it is still reality television, that is how they make money and get ratings.

    • Joy says:

      Learn to spell when you're criticizing.

      • Viv says:

        Joy, leave the judging up to God, when your criticizing!!!!! This isn't an English class for crying out loud!! Get over yourself!!!

      • EFirstL says:

        Yeah, Joy. You can't actually expect Americans to know their native language. That would be ridiculous. (Btw, Viv, it's "you're")

    • GGIIRRLL says:

      E. Coli you sure have a "poopy" outlook, trying to live up to your name?

    • GramD says:

      Don't watch if you don't like! Plain and simple!

      • Viv says:

        When there is nothing else on, you are kind of forced to watch it since it might be a tiny bit better than the rest of the lousy stuff on!!! I pay for cable too buddy, I will put my complaint in, as I pay for the internet service too!!! So if YOU don't like it, DON'T READ IT!!!! Plain and simple!!! Right back at you GramD!!!!

    • Viv says:

      I agree 100%, the turn around of the owners is a little too fake!!!! Can't stand the show, is all Robert does is yell, yell, yell, gets old after awhile!!!! Time for a fresh face please!!!! Let's have a television show that does not include yelling, arguing, or stressfulness watching it, we go out in the world and get enough of that!!!! When I turn on the television, I want peace and calm, with a little reality in it! Show more cooking less yelling and bashing people!!!

  9. Gail says:

    We are former customers and though we loved the family, we had become bored with the menu. Four of us visited for dinner the other night and were extremely happy with all aspects of the evening. Our greeting was immediate and warm. The server was excellent. The menu was much improved and we all were thrilled with our dishes! The restaurant was packed! We will return often!

  10. Peter says:

    Can't believe Tom the builder could not figure that mirror issue out, someone should be canned for such a stupid script in the middle of the show, or Tom should be for not being a good builder.

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