Restaurant Revisited: Kalico Kraziness at Kalico Kitchen

by in Shows, July 14th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleNot long after arriving at Kalico Kitchen in Douglas, Mich., Robert Irvine realized that the negative tension and long-standing animosity between owner Catherine Wilt and her employees was as much of a problem at the restaurant as its dusty dining room and greasy kitchen. This over-30-year-old eatery was once making nearly $1 million in sales, but it recently acquired a $400,000 debt, something that Catherine learned when she returned after a four-year leave of absence. Over the course of two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team attempted to mend the strained relationships at Kalico Kitchen; plus, they gave the space a much-needed deep cleaning, design overhaul and updated menu with fresh, quality ingredients. FN Dish checked in with Kalico Kitchen, and a server, Laura — on Catherine’s behalf — shared how the restaurant is doing today.

“Business went from $200-$300 per day to $2,000-$3,000 per day,” Laura explained. Not long after reopening, Catherine “had made enough money to pay the mortgages to keep her from foreclosure.”

Since the renovation, “the kitchen staff is keeping the kitchen clean and the wait staff has a much better attitude,” according to Laura. The restaurant has enjoyed a mix of returning and first-time diners, and Laura added that many customers have been impressed with the updated decor. In terms of the new menu, she told us that Kalico is “in the process of updating the old menu, and adding some of the specials on the paper menus.”

Despite Catherine’s hopes to improve her professional rapport with her staff, the situation has remained largely the same. “Catherine feels that her relationship with her employees has not changed. She doesn’t feel that she has changed at all. Her relationship with Donny hasn’t changed either,” Laura said.

“Financially, things are looking up, and we are very appreciative of Robert coming out and saving the restaurant,” Laura said. “Catherine believes that she would have lost the restaurant by now had he not come here …. She feels she owes her gratitude to Restaurant: Impossible and the local community for standing by her through these rough times and continuing to patronize the restaurant.”

More from Restaurant Revisited:

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 (489)

  1. Donny says:

    I need to say a few things, The show filmed on 4-20-13 and aired on 7-14-13. On July 27th. I quit. I refused and still refuse to be treated like I've allowed myself to be treated. July 28th. The police told Cody, Alex and I that we were no longer to be on the property. To this day I have not been back. Or talked to mom.
    And for all these people who know Kathy, her grandkids and myself so well. It's kind of funny I have no idea who you are. I've taken a lot of flax from all of this. Growing up in a small town like Saugatuck, after 35 years you know everyone. I really thought I was someone and had something. Then one day I realized I'm not and I don't.

    • no one says:

      you are right you grew up in a small toown wher ever one knows you they know your mother to they see how hard she worked you were a good cook but you are more then that to her i know your mother she has all ways wanted the best for you things all ways happen for the best you arenot looking at what has happen you need to stop and thank about what you have and give thanks it is thankgiven time

      • Harold Paratestes says:

        Either you are posting under several names or the Douglas school system also needs a good makeover. Cathy must have hired an illiterate as her PR rep.

    • Harold Paratestes says:

      You are more and have more now that you no longer have that anchor to drag around.

      • no one says:

        you need to shut up you donnt know catherine or don you are nothing just some ass runing his or her supid mouthno one

        • Douglas Native says:

          Donny, no one got it right on! You are much more to your mother than a cook. You are her son and regardless of the differences between the two of you, she loves you and needs your love and support more than ever. It is not only a time to be thankful, but also a time to forgive and make the best of that you can and I do believe that one can only really be happy in life when they can forgive.
          Best of luck to you and your family! Yes, Saugatuck and Douglas are small towns and they are quick to judge others when they themselves have there own issues as well. You are someone and do not ever forget that!!

    • Brian says:

      Donny!!! Can't believe I was surfing through the channels and saw you on tv. I saw everything between you and your mom. I heard a lot too after you would close for the night. Wish I had the chance to come see everything after the show, but Kansas is too far away. I know you are a great cook. Don't take that crap anymore. Been telling you that for years. Hope you know who this is man. Best of luck.

  2. MidwestChef says:

    No need to further bash the KK – it was shut down by the health inspector last week. The owner is also in debt to the tune of $10.000 just for her electric bill. The place is up for sale. (Read the story in the local news –

  3. Gretchen says:

    Kalico has now been shut down by the Michigan Health Dept for many health code violations

    • Kyle says:

      I really do not understand what went on other than the management must have gone back to their old operational bad habits that got them into trouble. I watch RI all the time and often wonder how many restaurants end up closing anyway. It is interesting that in the report on a local tv station December 18 the mayor stated RI as part of the restaurant's downfall.
      "It was devastating to them I'm afraid because after that show, we got letters at city hall and elsewhere about the cleanliness of the place and I'm afraid that just really gave them such bad publicity," says Mayor Wiley. In the end, the story goes on to say the health department held a final hearing to go over violations but nobody from the restaurant showed up. Looks like a simple case of someone not doing what was needed to take advantage of a second chance and reverting back to bad habits. Sad.

  4. Delores says:

    The "ole lady" seems to be a liar. She needs to close her mouth and go home to leave the kitchen to her son as she said she would do. Yes she opened the place 35 years ago and she has run it into the ground. I am so sorry Robert wasted all that money on a stubborn old lady who refuses to change. She has no one to blame but herself. Too bad she is taking her family down with her.

  5. Past customer says:

    Went by first week of September 2014, the restaurant was closed, "For Sale" sign posted. Parking lot was grown over with weeds. Looked like it had been closed for awhile. I remember when it was a booming business many years ago. Good food back then. What a shame.

  6. Melissa says:

    The restaurant has enjoyed a mix of returning and first-time diners, and Laura added that many customers have been impressed with the updated decor. In terms of the new menu, she told us that Kalico is “in the process of updating the old menu, and adding some of the specials on the paper menus. kitchenaid dishwasher

  7. ShadowGWM says:

    This was closed in 2013 for health code violations, not due to just filth, but simple things like having paper towels near sinks, and other required places. This place can be yours for $465,000. I would love to open a tea shop, teach classes about tea, have tea tasting and serve soups for lunch. Everyone who tries my soups loves them and my chili has won 25 chili cook offs. Douglas and Saugatuck are awesome cities. Very gay friendly and picture perfect views. All I need is $465k, a bulldozer and the money to rebuild.

  8. Karstin says:

    I live in Montana and love that our health inspection ratings must be posted near the entrance to all restaurants. A prior posting said that all restaurant kitchens are gross and that is so not true. I have worked in 6 restaurants and in one of them all the walls were scrubbed daily (just one example). I have never seen a kitchen like this before.

    This woman had the filthiest mouth, can you imagine having your child around this environment, OMG! At 19 I had an employer who spoke to me in a similar manner and I immediately turned around and walked out the door and never looked back. Two days later I had another job. In a small town, such employers are known to other employers so you do not have to worry about working a short length of time looking bad. NO ONE, not your boss, not your friends, not your family, nor your partner has the right to speak to you the way this woman speaks to people. IT IS ABUSE AND NO ONE DESERVES IT!!!!

    My last comment is more of an overall restaurant industry query: Why do so many more people in the restaurant industry smoke? It dulls the taste buds and that means you cannot taste your cooking and even if you wash your hands, the smell is on your clothes and worst of all, on your hands. It grosses me out when a server sets a salad in front of me and I am greeted with the pungent smell of cigarettes. I cut the tip in half automatically for this grossness! Can anyone explain why this is so prevalent in this industry where it matters more than most?

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