Restaurant Revisited: Creepy in Clearwater at Smitty’s Restaurant

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhile there were indeed substantial problems with the food as well as the interior design at Smitty’s Restaurant in Clearwater, Fla., the gravest issue came in the form of bugs — an entire infestation of cockroaches, in fact. Overrun with these crawly creatures, husband-and-wife owners Gus and Evi Gialelis’ business faced certain closure if Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team couldn’t locate the source of the swarm. But to do so they’d have to rely on a professional exterminator, something that would significantly drain the overall renovation budget.

“I have never come across a restaurant this bad in my whole career,” Robert told Gus and Evi, who felt personally defeated in the wake of their struggling business. He initially questioned whether “this may be the one restaurant that’s too far gone,” but Robert’s not one to walk away from a mission, of course. And in just two days, he reopened the doors at Smitty’s to a welcoming, clean restaurant that was dishing out quality food. FN Dish checked in with Evi a few weeks after the reopening to find out how the restaurant is doing today.

Smitty’s has seen an increase in business since the show taped, and Evi says she’s noticing many first-time customers at the restaurant.

Along with the wait staff, Nick, Evi’s father and a cook, remains at Smitty’s, and he “helps Gus on the line more these days,” according to Evi. They’re now getting along much better than they were before the show.

While the restaurant is still offering the same large menu, Evi explains, “We have incorporated some daily specials on our boards, not at overly discounted prices like before.” One of the most-popular dishes has proved to be the souvlaki salad, topped with pork, beef, chicken or gyro. Nick has also been preparing daily specials, and Evi tells FN Dish that they’re “very good.”

Perhaps most importantly, the eatery is being kept clean, the staff committed to “daily, weekly and monthly duties that are done to keep it immaculate,” Evi says. “We have a professional commercial exterminator come out every two weeks, and the kitchen is the cleanest it has ever been.”

She adds that “The equipment, the food that was ordered and the items that were bought for the show are still being paid off,” so Gus’ pay is still no more than $300. He now “spends more time with all of us,” Evi says, noting that she’s no longer crying at night. “After all that is said and done, Gus is a very hard worker who strives for perfection at work.”

Reflecting on her family since the renovation, Evi tells FN Dish: “Our relationship as a family has always been strong. We are a lot happier nowadays because once again we are putting God first, family second and Smitty’s third. For a long time, we had our priorities all messed up, because Smitty’s always came first.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Old World Italian Restaurant (April 21)
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 (395)

  1. BuddyRFan says:

    Well…we just ate at Smitty's today. The wait staff were all dressed appropriately – the typical attire, jeans and new blouses/T shirts with the restaurant name on them. The place was very clean and neat and the staff were very pleasant and helpful. Granted the owner Gus, still wears the cut-off t-shirt and I think that needs to change.
    The owner is getting a new updated menu printed in line with Robert Irvine's instructions. The new menu is due to be out very soon. The food we were served was excellent and the serving plates, cups and glasses and silver ware were very clean- not even water spotted.
    Today is about two full months out from the filming of the show and apparently, the owner and staff take seriously what they learned.
    Of course, time will tell if the changes last. But, at least they have a second chance to get it right. We will return and check it out a few times and find out if the changes are followed through into the future.
    BTW – I'm originally from northern NY state (the second greatest Socialist State in America next to California) and in the north most bugs don't have all year to reproduce. Although, most restaurants in New York city need bug terminators part of the year. Here in Florida it's a fact of life that bug extermination is an ongoing issue – you just don't realize it unless you live here. So, that being said I'm not at all uncomfortable eating in the place as long as they have the extermination process done during down time.

    • Bugsie says:

      RAID!!! It's not just for breakfast anymore!

    • bingopokerslots says:

      I guess you have not seen their latest inspection report. May 1, 2013 —

      Rodent droppings
      Live cockroaches
      Meat/poultry held at over 41 degrees
      Meat sauce on the counter (83 degrees)
      Raw food stored with ready to eat food

      Among other violations that you can read for yourself.

      Eat there at your own risk.

  2. Steven says:

    I watch all off the episodes. But Smiitty's was the worst ever. Robert should have let it close. Their unclean habits, attire and victim attitudes combine to indicate they should not be running any restaurant. Where was the health department? You can make it look nice, but that is not a solution to their problems. All of the episodes were good till this debacle. Robert, be more selective. Don't try to revive a restaurant that can not sustain itself. I would never eat there!!

    • daflabear says:

      I agree these people do not deserve any help. There is no excuse for their roach invested dirty management. There are many more deserving folks. I would never eat there and Robert and company wasted their time with these owners.

  3. Scott says:

    Inspected yesterday! Re-inspection required for roaches and rodent droppings! Nice… Enjoy the veal…I'll be here all week.

    • San Wich says:

      I need to donate one of my cats. She eats roaches. The only roaches I've seen in the past 5 years are in her mouth!

      This inspector is severely anal. Dead roaches not okay? They're dead, right? Sure they found two itsy bitsy lives roaches (soon to be dead), but two tiny roaches are surely not an 'infestation'.

      I knew a restaurant owner a few years ago who hung himself because the local inspector must have been sprinkling dead roaches from his hip pocket on inspections. The pest control company that had the weekly contract did not find one roach, after 52 weekly treatments – live or dead. The owner lost 12 grand in weekly revenue, missed his payment and payroll, and simply hung himself on Monday.

  4. sam12six says:

    First, I want to say I'm happy with the direction of the show in terms of Robert's behavior. In earlier seasons, he always struck me as a really good guy being pushed to act like a jerk. It just seemed fake. The exclusion of owner humiliation and yelling at the crew are good things.

    Now, on to this particular episode… he should have humiliated and yelled at the owners. You don't get to the point the episode showed overnight. People in that kitchen have been picking up plates and watching roaches scurry for cover for years. All the show did was hit the reset button and give them a couple more years for their filthy ways to get the place back to the same point.

    This episode reminded me that if Robert Irvine EVER offers me a free meal, unless he's eating next to me, I'm running in the opposite direction!!

    PS – to save someone the effort, I know my opinion is meaningless because I'm an ugly 300 pound chick and the place has been jam packed since the renovation…

  5. guest says:

    Give these people a chance. They might make it work. Here, in Florida there are bugs all over the place all the time.

    • bingopokerslots says:

      NO excuse. The FILTH attracts bugs, you idiot! If the filth was not there, the bugs would also not be there! Are you that silly????

    • Flagirl says:

      I was born and raised in Florida, there are bugs yes, but there wasn't any in my kitchen…

      • guest says:

        It happens even in the best of restaurants. You don't have any in your kitchen because you aren't getting boxes and boxes of deliveries each week. This is what bugs love the most!

        • Ticia232 says:

          Maybe some bugs, but not an infestation that big. That comes over time and if it wasn't lack of cleaning than it was the owners ignoring the problem. Why was there a refrigerator that did not work not cleaned?

  6. Colorado chef says:

    I don't know what to make of this show.
    The owners seemed like nice people, likeable, hardworking and sincere. But you do not let your place go like they did. I know there are bugs galore in Fla. I worked there a few years. That does not excuse you from keeping your place clean, neat, and well maintained.

    And Gus, dress appropriately. It just doesn't cut it for the owner to look like that.

    But there were many good things. Gus did not make excuses or fight Robert and resist the change. He seemed to take responsibility and he manned up. He and Evi were honest and forthright. I admire that.

    I wish you luck!

  7. James O says:

    We are local and have been eating there for years, we recognize everybody shown, some waitresses were missing. This is not an expensive restaurant and that's what brings so many people in, the food was always good eating and never expensive. I have never seen the place dead empty; except during this renovation we tried to go there and found it closed and we panicked. I phoned my girlfriend and she informed the family, this was our spot so we were a bit bummed.

    Then this episode came out and the whole family tuned in. There's more to the story of this place, it's been around for YEARS and is situated right down the street from the 49th street Greybar hotel and Courthouse so a lot of cops were always in the area. It's not the only cop restaurant in the area, several others are also around. My girlfriend serves the District Attorney every week at her place.

    They're good people and that's all it takes, honestly. If you're a local you are no stranger to bugs, by any stretch of the imagination. I have lived in apts in my younger days that made this look heavenly. I'm not defending the cleanliness, but have worked in enough restaurants as a contractor to tell you that this is everywhere. Behind the deli counter at your local grocery store would likely make you heave in seconds, if you only knew.

    Like Chinese? Check out that kitchen because nobody uses grease like an Asian restaurant. You think upscale is going to be better? Not the case, a commercial kitchen is the king of grease and it tracks everywhere, the dining room is actually a grease pit too. Is there any defense against it?

    Robert may have done them a favor by remodeling and cleanup, but seriously nobody who watched this episode was left with a good impression of Smittys, much less Clearwater. If you're expecting to find upscale high class and expensive in Clearwater, you obviously don't understand FL at all. It's very Southern here, but our roads are better.

    • bingopokerslots says:

      They are not good people. They are filthy pigs. They were just inspected on May1 and guess what? Live roaches and rodent droppings!

      Not to mention —

      Raw meat or poultry held at greater than 41 degrees.
      Meat sauce on counter was 83 degrees.
      Raw animal food stored with ready to eat food.
      Stored food uncovered.

      You are making excuses for these people??? And trying to blame Chinese people in the process???

      Please, eat there while they are still open. You are a fool.

  8. Paul says:

    wonder how long till this place is sued by Smitty's Family Restaurant

  9. OptimisticElder says:

    Everyone else has pretty much said what I wanted to say about the restaurant itself, but my biggest gripe is the music they play during the show. Robert and everyone else are always YELLING so they'll be heard over that awful blaring music, which doesn't add a thing to the show. If the person isn't yelling, they are drowned out by the music.

    It seems as though almost all of The Food Network shows have gone to that driving guitar noise in the background. It's horrible and makes those shows unpleasant to watch and listen to.

    A show is either interesting or it isn't. Playing loud raucous music isn't going to make a dull show more exciting, but it DOES ruin a good show.

    • RI Fan says:

      I've seen you on these boards before with this same complaint. I'm middle aged and I don't even notice the background music. Unfortunately, I think the problem is with your own hearing. I don't know if a hearing aid would help – but I wish you all the best in resolving that issue for yourself.

      I like the show, and I don't notice the background music.

  10. guest says:

    I'm amused by all of the comments about the shirts worn by the people in the kitchen. Hey, I bet it's hot back there!

    • bingopokerslots says:

      So? They need to cover it up.

    • Dee says:

      yes but NO ONE wants armpit hair in their food!!!!! and It's a health code violation to not be covered up.

    • hayduke says:

      Sure it's hot. But it's against the Florida State Health Code to wear sleeveless shirt. I cook in a non-airconditioned kitchen with a chef's jacket and checks.

    • chefb says:

      Yes, it's hot. But you still have to cover up for hygiene purposes. Do you really want random hairs, dander, deodorant flakes, and armpit sweat falling into your food? 30 years in a kitchen and I wear a chef coat and long pants every day whether in -10 outside or 105.

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