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)

Similar Posts

The Curse of the Deconstructed Dish — Alton’s After-Show

Watch the latest installment of Alton's After-Show to see the host dish with tonight's judge, Antonia Lofaso....

Comments (489)

  1. cathy says:

    There were many people from the community, who donated their time in the renovation, while many of Irvine’s crew sat back and ate and drank their Heineken Beer. He made my problems much worse! If I ever want counseling, it will be from someone who is sober! I am very sorry for the embarrassment this whole ordeal has caused our community.

  2. cathy says:

    Many people asked if I had to do it over again, would I? I said, “YES, because I thought it would save my restaurant. But, knowing what I know now, I say No, I wouldn’t do it again because of the additional problems it has caused. And because of the reactions and comments I’ve received from so many people. No, I wouldn’t do it again in a million years! I know some people can be cruel, but some of the comments have been beyond cruel. Most of you don’t know anything other than what you saw on the TV show. Some of you are just mean people. Most reality TV shows are stupid. We as a society need to stop believing everything we hear and see on TV. There’s am old saying, “Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.” It’s true. Everything you feel is the truth and sometimes the truth hurts.

    • Jeff says:

      Everything we are believing is exactly what came out of YOUR mouth. You had control over how you presented yourself to the nation… I'm sure Robert didn't force you to play the role of a complete nutcase and worst family member of the year.

    • Denise says:

      Wow….talk about someone that is ungrateful for help! These people tried to help you….and yes, they have a show to do as well. Instead of complaining, maybe say thank you!

  3. cathy says:

    The human side of this whole state of affairs is about someone who was trying to keep their home, their business, and their family together; Employees who were trying to keep their jobs; and a community pulling together during some hard times. The economy has been harder for some people and businesses than others. ‘Restaurant Impossible’ didn’t show the human side. I guess they thought giving a restaurant a face lift, and a new 1-page menu with 5-items, and getting rid of the old-woman was all they needed to focus on.

  4. cathy says:

    In retrospect, I wish I could go back 30-years, to Kalico where I just cooked all the meals. I loved every minute of every day. I loved the community, and the people who came to eat my ‘Home cooked southern food.’ I have been at Kalico for 36 years. I’ve been trying to retire for the past 6-years. If I weren’t getting too old, I would try for another 30 years. But that’s not an option for me.

  5. cathy says:

    I realized too late that the focus of Irvine’s show was on their ratings, creating drama for their viewers, and the money the show was going to make for them. I made a big mistake, and I am so sorry for the embarrassment that has come out of all this. I hope to give an update on the fate of the Kalico and myself in the near future.

    Thank You,
    Cathy Wilt
    “Big Mama”

  6. butch says:

    Wow Cathy, you seem to care,except for your family,hitting your grand daughter firing all the family and others,you need help real help..

  7. Douglas_Native says:

    Born and raised in Douglas, and having worked at the Kalico during its hay day in the 80's, I can say without a doubt that Cathy is every bit the sociopath that is presented in this episode of RI. She, Lynne, and Pat were nice in front to the locals, but absolute vicious and miserable trolls to anyone below them in the "back of the house". I've known Donny since grade school, and his downward spiral and "Demons" (as Cathy puts it) are a direct result of her and her group of cronies holding him (and the rest of us) under their thumbs. You see, Lynne and Pat would pay themselves whatever they thought that they deserved for the day by taking money out of the cash register. It was well known, and no secret. But then when it became common practice that Don's paycheck was a daily pull from the cash drawer, Lynne or Cathy would decide how much "allowance" he could have for the day. What he did with it was nobody's business. And depending on their moods, Don might work a 5am to 3pm shift for nothing. Hey Lynne, why was it ok for you to spend your "paycheck" at The Woodshed drinking yourself into a stupor, but Don was judged for the exact same thing?

    Yes, Cathy worked hard in the beginning, but she went on extravagant vacations LONG before her health issues sent her to Arizona. Problem is, you don't buy a brand new motorhome, and a brand new truck and spend your winters down South right when the economy is tanking post 9/11. Cathy, I read your long tearful post on Kalico's FB page, that was conveniently copied and pasted here, and I've never seen such blatant use of "I", "me", and "mine" in my life. If you had ever once given Don the full responsibility instead of giving him responsibility just for the sake of taking it away to give it to Cindy and Scott Burklow, you might still be rolling in the cash that the Kalico was sending you during better times. Your alligator tears don't work on me.

    So all you "Local Yokels", just keep on spouting your incoherent drivel. Because the people who really DO know the behind the scenes dysfunction that is the Kalico, know where the problem lies. And unless your name is RJ Peterson, who I doubt ever paid a dime for his meals, you know that the only reason you're standing up for the "Old Kalico", and the wonderful "Catherine Wilt" is because she must have given you a free meal at some time.

    Me, on the other hand will remember the Kalico as the only job I've ever been fired from. Ever! Ironically I was fired on a Sunday morning because my breath smelled of alcohol. Fired by the saint Cathy herself. The ironic part? I was out drinking with Lynne the night before, but she didn't get fired.

    • Local Yocal says:

      My God Honey, I just don't know where to start. You are right about alot of things, but you left out the River Queen Houseboat that she had delivered to Arkansas and put on a beautiful lake that she and some of her employees and grandchildren enjoyed tremendously. And over the course of her life bought 3 Motor Homes and a Honda Gold Wing, 2 Cadilacs and a Lincoln and a Brand new Ford Expedition which she bought & paid for with her own money from her own business! How she spent her money was her business and it was her life to do what made her happy! I know her very well, and she would never have put up with you in the 80"s.
      She would let RJ Peterson and any of her friends have a free meal and coffee if they wanted it. Not that she did, but they knew they were perfectly welcome if they wanted to. Again, that was her business and not YOURS! Now go lay down by your dish and wait for your mommy!

      • Douglas_Native says:

        You're right Local, how she spent her money was her business. Unfortunately it was careless, and at a time when the Kalico was beginning to fall into dis-repair. You made my point perfectly for me, by helping me to expose her extravagant and carefree lifestyle. All of which is fine and dandy as long as you don't kill the cash cow in the process, then blame everyone else for the problems.
        And nope, it's not my business. Never said it was. Point was, that the relatively small group of supporters on here, The Holland Sentinel, and on Facebook, are probably the very people who got the free meals. Seems to me that by the sound of it, you've been blinded by free Aigs wif Bacon.

        • Kalico Customer says:

          Sounds like you are just jealous of Catherine and what she has accomplished. Maybe you are even jealous that you didn't get any of those so-called free Aigs wif Bacon. Be sure to stop by sometime and they will fix you right up! Until then, shut up because nobody cares, least of all the people in Douglas.

  8. Tupac Shakur says:

    Can anyone address some follow up questions to the show, maybe a local resident might know:

    – How is business going since the RI episode?
    – Have there been any changes to the staff and have relations gotten any better?
    – What has become of the new menu?
    – Did the staff members take anything positive away from this experience?
    – Is Kalico Kitchen clean now? Recent customer posts on this blog and across the internet keep describing unclean and dirty conditions in the restaurant and terrible conditions in the bathrooms.
    – Has the food gotten better?
    – Has the service gotten better?

    I am hoping that all of the above have improved and the restaurant can be a success.

    Much love, Tupac Shakur, yo

  9. Belker says:

    My wife and I pulled into the parking lot at the Kitchen, entered the diner and were surprised by the new decor. We had been coming to Douglas in May and August for the past 15+ years as we drove to our vacation spot up North. We talked about what a "new make-over" had happened and it looked like RI had visited. We were floored when our server confirmed it and told us the story. They also ran out of bacon and ham by the time we were served. What a shame. It was always a great place to stop. Half the fun was the Kitchen itself, the staff was and today is friendly, charming, truthful, & kind. OK the washrooms were in need of a make-over but I don't eat in there – duh. We will continue to stop there and pray things change for the better for everyone. I also pray the town's people will overlook what TV shows and remember years gone by and the good times had by all. Forgive and move on. Day by day and learn from our mistakes. Good Luck KK – we still enjoy stopping by.

  10. LPL123 says:

    Okay, I was not going to post on here, because I feel like the drama just needs to stop & everyone needs to get off Catherine's back! I did NOT call the show for all this bashing to come out. I did it to try and help her, which it did. The show did not portray the reasons behind my phone call, unfortunately! They made Catherine out to be a monster, which she is not, and oh, her poor family, she is so mean to them. Some people need to put their big girl panties on & face the truth!!!So let me say this about that. She is 70 years old and built that business from the ground up, as a single mother. Kudos to her! Her grand daughter made a comment during taping telling me I had not been around long enough to know. Well, I know this. I wholeheartedly believe in calling a spade a spade. If someone you know ( even if you are related to them) is a piece of shit, and you call them a piece of shit, it doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you an honest person. How are you suppose to run a business when your own flesh & blood steals from you , walks out in the middle of a service, and doesn't show up? Certain family members came in to help, and I believe they did their best. Some of them are still there trying. As far as the servers/staff is concerned. Catherine is NOT a bad person to work for. Does she have a mouth on her? Yes. Could they all quit & go elsewhere? Yes. Do they? No. Why is it that at 27 years old, it's okay to swear and be vocal, but when a 70 year old does it, everyone is jumping on here posting how crazy she must be? Maybe, just maybe, some of them make her act that way. Her son told her that he had no desire to take over the restaurant, yet him and his children feel like they can take whatever they want, whenever they want. Here's a thought, go out & find a job that is NOT for your mother/ grandmother, and succeed on your own! She should be able to retire and go back to AZ and rest at this stage of the game! She has earned it ! The disrespectful mouths on some of them there should have been slapped long ago! When people have a drinking problem, and getting to the bar is their main concern, it's hard to be productive, or even sanitary, which again, causes a problem in any work environment! How someone could say it's 'their kitchen' and then they are too lazy to clean it, again, is an issue. How can you expect people who work with you to do the work, if you yourself don't? I know this is going to piss some people off, but I'm okay with that! Again, call a spade a spade! Maybe some of you should look in the mirror before pointing a finger at someone else, that you saw for an hour on TV, and don't know personally! Small towns and a lot of big gossip on here! Time to move on people

    • Hot Queef says:

      Wow, these are some very thoughtful and constructive ideas.

      Just slap everyone in the face, punch them, and call them pieces of shit.

      What a brilliant idea. That will make everything just fine and dandy.

      LPL, you are stupid.

      • LPL123 says:

        A) NOBODY got 'punched' so where ever you are getting your facts, don't believe everything you hear.
        B.) If you are a piece of shit, and someone calls you out on it, so be it, truth hurts ( sometimes)
        C.) Stupid is as stupid does…. Forest Gump

        • Kalico Friend says:

          Good for you LPL!! You took the words right out of my mouth!!

        • Alex says:

          I actually did get hit in the face, for asking for my paychecks, that I still haven't received. Maybe you should get your facts straight, Laura. And as far as I'm concerned, anybody who calls people "pieces of shit" should take a look in the mirror, because not only is that mean and untrue, but it takes a super spectacular person to say it. It's ironic that you're on here defending the woman that you threw under the bus to members of the community AND quit working for. Why would you end employment from her if she's such a stand up employer? Makes sense. Considering you're sticking with the sinking ship, waiting to buy it from the bank when they foreclose, I hope that there is no business there for you to profit from after my family is no longer with it. You simply don't deserve it. You are a lying and vindictive person, and I hope nothing but the worst for you.

          • Customer says:

            I really do think Laura tried to help Catherine. I think that she had her heart and soul in helping her to get her business back on track. Why is it wrong then for her to purchase it when and if your family loses it if that is the case? I doubt that that is her intentions, but if it is, so what. Someone will purchase it and believe me they will make money there in that location. With the right team of employees on board, they can't lose. The people you have working there now don't care. It shows by their actions. Not all, but the majority of them could care less what happens to you and your family. It may not even stay a restaurant. That remains to be seen!

    • abbii says:

      Lpl, name calling is common, small minded and does not build a productive work place. You talk about disrespect from some but its okay from others. Please pick a side. The person at the top is the one that sets the example and the tone of any team or business. You get what you dish. Even a sweet dog will bite the hand that feeds him if he is kicked enough. I hope you are not raising children with the attitude you have shown here.

    • LPL123 says:

      Alex, I am not getting into an argument w/ you or Donny on here. You got 'hit' in the face, not 'punched' there is a difference, I have my facts straight. The reason I left there was because you & your father were coming back, and I knew the drama that was about to ensue. I at least gave her notice that I would be leaving, unlike certain employees who walk out in the middle of service , because they feel like it. Kind of hard to run a business that way. You all may think it's okay to be disrespectful to Catherine. I however do not tolerate that . Me calling the show to come & help HER out had no bearing on my personal feelings towards you or your father. There is nothing I wouldn't do to try & help her, and keep her reliable employees employed. I have NEVER said an unflattering comment about Catherine to anyone, so your statement about members of the community is BS, but again, whatever. It's not worth a battle of words with you on a public site. I would go back there in a heartbeat & help her if she wanted me to. Your personal opinion of me, or what I choose to do in my life has no bearing to me whatsoever, nor will it. I wish you & your father well in finding employment at a place that you actually have to follow rules and be held accountable for your actions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>