Restaurant Revisited: Good Food, Bad Vices at Benner Street

by in Shows, July 28th, 2013

Benner StreetFaced with a mountain of debt, Dorothy and Thom Williams, husband-and-wife owners of Benner Street restaurant in Bethlehem, Pa., were unsure if they would see their retirement if the dire situation at their business didn’t improve. They looked to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to give their eatery the second chance it deserves, and when Robert arrived, he soon realized the root of Benner Street’s problems: its bickering owners, to start, plus its drab interior and poorly stocked bar. With just two days to work and a budget of $10,000, Robert helped Dorothy and Thom learn how to effectively manage a staff while he overhauled the restaurant’s design and revamped its menu. FN Dish checked in with Dorothy a few months after Benner Street’s reopening to find out how her business is doing today.

“Business is up 40 percent,” Dorothy says. “All the employees and family are excited about our new beginning and all are working toward our success.”

In terms of the transformed interior, Dorothy tells FN Dish, “People are enjoying the new decor.”

The Benner Street menu is now a mix of Robert’s offerings and “some of the old favorites” from before the remodeling, according to Dorothy. This update came as a result of longtime customers missing particular dishes.

Dorothy now says, “I do delegate a lot more, but I still expect perfection.” She admits she and Thom still argue. But, she insists, “Arguing is part of our life — that doesn’t mean we don’t love each other.” Thom’s health has not improved since the show, and Dorothy tells us “he has taken some time away from work,” like Robert suggested.

Looking back on her Restaurant: Impossible journey, Dorothy explains, “This experience was one of the hardest things we ever experienced as … business owner[s] and for our family.” But she advises fellow restaurateurs who may be facing similar struggles: “Don’t be afraid of change.”

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Hurley’s American Grille (July 21)
Kalico Kitchen (July 14)
Angelo’s (June 23)
Pier West Restaurant (June 16)
Pinehurst Country Lodge (June 9)
Bryan’s Smokehouse (May 26)
Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant (May 19)
Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant (May 12)
Smitty’s Restaurant (April 28)
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 (193)

  1. Mel says:

    I was impressed with kitchen, but would like to know how is the husband doing.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I liked this episode, I just hope Thom takes it easy and relaxes a little bit. It was nice to see Robert actually enjoying the food on the current menu and not getting so angry at his designers/owners. I know that is the show, but sometimes a change from the usual "gross food, giant menu, dirty kitchen" episode is nice.

  3. equus915 says:

    Love this program! Chef is amazing and tonight the first episode made me wonder why the health department did not close down the "Nuts" restaurant. Amazing the filth! But the thing that was the most shocking was the Boston restaurant…..Was it just me or did anyone notice the body language with Dorothy and Tom on the bench when Chef sat down to talk to them ??? She was as far away from him as she could get until he told them that they could have a 2 million dollar restaurant?? She was all loving and sweet…I am sure she is a fine lady but her body language spoke volumes when she heard 2 million….Tom looks so sick and I was very concerned at the end that he would be able to enjoy the new restaurant!

  4. JoJo says:

    Such a hideous design! They must be working through an excess supply of HGTV Home paint in Barf Green.

  5. PLC says:

    So from Edible to Hurl(y's) -not sure that is a name improvement….

  6. Karen says:

    Hey Great to hear of your success..

    Wish you all the best for your upcoming success.

  7. lorin says:

    It was nice to see Robert (whom I adore!) like the food and the service. I do feel badly for Cheryl though, I think she did her best. I didn't think it was that bad, but if she reads these reviews, I would imagine she regrets the shower curtain idea. But I think she is sweet and has some good ideas.

  8. Blanca says:

    I wish the Benner street restaurant well and the family.I thought the decor was a nice modern update with color & texture..I THOUGHT THE TAPESTRY was sweet and well placed with lovely contrasting and complementary colors. I hope they dont alienate the working or college crowd by reverting to the old menu during 5-7 happy hour who will end up being your long term returning customers.

  9. Flying bat says:

    Tom seems like my kind of guy. Will be heading there shortly to polish a bottle of Beefeaters with him! Hang in there brother.

  10. Curt says:

    They need to get a divorce, and they also need to give the restaurant up to someone else. He is too sick to have anything to do with it and she is too much to deal with it seems as well.

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