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. Julio says:

    How is the owner's health? He was hospitalized during the filming. I hope he's OK.

  2. Braega says:

    I hate to say this, because I always root for the underdog. I am not sure why Food Network is wasting their money on restaurants are so far gone. I could think of so many ways that $10,000 could be spent, per place in a year. That adds up to an obscene amount of money. I spent the part of the weekend past, looking for all of the hopeful, happy updates on these restaurant that should have turned around. Almost every single one was closed or sold. I will no longer watch RI, because of the money wasted on these people that just take this last chance for granted. I am truly so disappointed. The only bright light in all of this is the help you gave to the Boys & Girls Clubs, and any other charity you chose to help out. At least the money, time, energy, and emotion is well spent there. It is so sad that Mr. Irvine makes an emotional contribution to these people that just take without giving back, for the majority. I applaud the few that have taken this chance and made the most of it, but from what I have seen, it is very few. Maybe FN should either create better standards or contracts with these people they help, or to spend the money in more worthy ways.

  3. Victoria says:

    My friend took my there for my birthday. I had never been there before. Even with a buy one get one free dinner out of the Entertainment book, it was disappointing. It was a Monday night and there was only one other table of customers and a few people at the bar having drinks. Service was slow and the food was bland. I had the hanger steak. I found were Lisa is cutting food cost. Cold, instant mashed potatoes, 6 tiny, thin pieces of squash. Bland as can be. The steak was hot and cooked properly. My friend got the fish dinner. The coleslaw wasn't even stirred together and tasted like bland grocery store coleslaw. The fish was good, but the tartar sauce was practically straight mayo. I don't think they are doing Robert proud! I have had better food, better service, and better prices from a truck stop. As for the design, it still looks drab and dirty inside with many items that just look like they don't belong.

  4. charles says:

    Was at the Country Kitchen 13300 E Hwy 20 Clearlake Oaks, California 95423 where we at on the first week of September. The servicer was terrible and so was the coffee that we paid for two cups of coffee and charged me 6.47 for the drink and then the bank saw what I was talking about the extra $31 dollars for food we didn’t receive and I canceled. I’m a disabled vet and this is how they treat their locals and vets. I went in their today and when asked to speak to someone in charge and when I told the waitress what happened he chuckled at me in my face and said come back tomorrow the owner would be there and was going to do nothing about it. STAY AWAY FROM THE COUNTRY KITCHEN at 13300 E Hwy 20 Clearlake Oaks, California 95423 their service sucks and they COMMIT CREDIT CARD FRAUD!!!!

  5. Smellslikecookies says:

    I am surprised that the designers didn't incorporate a life-sized robotic Anthony Weiner mannequin in a zip-up banana suit to greet the customers. Could the rest of the design be not as silly? C'mon producers! WOW us again with Dangerous Designs! This generic foamy carp won't keep me watching at all.

  6. very nice and excellent work,i liked the quality of contents so much. thanks you once again.
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  7. debbie says:

    just ate tonight at benner street with my family. food was excellent. would go back again….décor was very nice,not fancy ,but very clean. waitress was very nice, the owner talked with us,and seemed nice and proud of her place. we expected to pay higher prices in a place like that,but It really wasn't to bad. I would go back again and tell others to also. hope they stay open.

  8. Frank Falk says:

    Just ate at this nicely appointed, clean, small restaurant on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. There were four of us and we all thoroughly enjoyed our selections. I had the steamed clam appetizer and it was wonderful. The broth was so good that we all shared in soaking it up with the bread (even those who don't like clams). Two of the group had the crab bisque and it was excellent. The entrees were excellent as well. I had the grouper and it was served with a mushroom sauce and several large shrimp. The grouper was excellently prepared and very tasty. We all enjoyed our dinner immensely! The only minor complaints was that there was only one server that seemed to be the bar tender, waitress, and bus person all in one. She worked very hard to satisfy all of the tables (maybe 5 full tables) and serve the patrons of the bar. We saw none of the difficulties referred to on the show, so the repairs have been lasting. We will be back and we will recommend to our friends!

  9. Arnost says:

    right good food is very important issue for health of every one and must have to share goo things to all.

  10. Arnost says:

    The restaurant owners have to check all cock cleaning and fresh thing then he have to allow them to surf it.

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