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. Sarah says:

    I have been to Kalico Kithcen for breakfast several times. I thought breakfast was good but, I have noticed the quality of food has been declining. I have never thought about how disgusting and filthy the place was. Never crossed my mind. After watching the Restaurant impossible, I felt sick to my stomach. I have not had A chance to go back after the show but, I will go to just to see for myself how things are now.

  2. cathy says:

    The business does remain up for sale but we continue to operate regardless; our groceries are stocked, we are making progress on our financial condition having brought on board an excellent accounting firm and cooperation from our bank. This is all due to one thing; the support of our wonderfull customers and community.
    Thank you for giving us a kick in the pants, constructive criticism, positive suggestions and feed back; without you we would not be in business.
    We love you all.
    Catherine Wilt

    • Lynne says:

      Cathy you and Scott have worked endlessly to better the restaurant! I am proud of the job you and your team have done! The restrooms & floors look fabulous as does the kitchen and dining areas! The food is superb and you have many happy return customers. I wish Robert would come back and see all of the progress that you have made!! I know without a doubt he'd be happy!
      Love you Guys,

    • Harold Paratestes says:

      Sell it. You would be doing a public service.

    • Kerryrm says:

      The fact that Cathy is having to sell the place because it continues to fail does not surprise me at all. I knew from watching the show that change was not going to occur so that the restaurant would not be in the red anymore. It was quite obvious that her deep set denial was going to be her undoing as a restauranteur.

  3. cathy says:

    Since the airing of our episode there has been much said both positive and negative by so many well meaning people. We have listened, acknowledge and accept that there were many areas that needed serious attention and improvement. Change takes time when having many fronts to contend with but action has and continues to be taken every day to address these concerns.__We want to express our gratitude for the many ideas and suggestions Robert provided. Some work for us, and some didn't. Our many customers from far and wide have lobbied to manitain many of their favorites as well as expressed their desire to see some additional items. As a result we continue to use the "menu" format provided to feature our specials

  4. cathy says:

    and we pay closer attention to what our customers want.
    All of our attitudes needed improvement, and much has improved in that respect. Some of us were unable to continue and moved on, but remain very much part of the family.
    Many challenges inherent to this type of business aggrevated our situation at times making it seem an undaunting challenge; but we continued on and found capable and competent people. These folks were excited and happy to jump on board, but again training and consistency has taken longer to get back on track. As a result, we are working the business open to close to insure the best possible service, food and atmosphere that we can provide for our customers.

  5. cathy says:

    Personal touches have been brought in to compliment the wonderful job Tonya and Tom did on the dining room. We have brought in live entertainment on Sunday afternoons and have initiated many other customer requests. Our kitchen is continously cleaned, our dining room floors have been brought back to a shiny luster and everyone works to maintain a clean comfortable enviroment.

  6. Mr. & Mrs H. says:

    I live in town, this place is as disgusting as it appeared on tv; you can slap a dress on a pig but it's still a pig and this place is still disgusting! Glad some of you like "her" but she's never been anything but nasty and mean to everyone around her; including my own daughter. She can keep their cracked windows, dead fly decor and horrible food; we will NEVER step foot in the place again and the State inspector on record should be immediately fired!

  7. ruth r bray says:

    One thing I cannot understand, how can someone like Cathy be called a lady and how many murderer can be called a gentleman , don't you think there are other expressions in our English language?

  8. Shelby says:

    Wow, Donny, I watched the show on demand and just read through every one of these comments because I wanted to see how many people saw in your mother what I saw in your mother — and that is *my* mother. I live hundreds of miles away and have never even been north of Detroit, but I am extremely familiar with a mother who has mean diarrhea of the mouth and who can deny she said something just seconds after she says it. My mother also says "I was just joking" when called on some of her meanness. Both our moms are bullies who are in denial. A couple of commenters posted that she A.) has probably never healed from the death of her husband (like my mom) and B.) probably has a narcissistic personality disorder. You knew you couldn't trust her because you can't trust her to change. She'll never change. It breaks my heart to know my mother will be remembered by her grandchildren as a horrible, critical, mean woman, when 30 years ago she was one of the nicest people I knew. But she has chosen that for herself, and I can't try to change her. Donny, you might want to read about codependency too, because your mother's verbal abuse probably created all kinds of issues for you in regard to feeling responsible for things you can't control.
    The majority of the commenters see her in such different ways, but what I saw hit too close to home, and I saw in you, Donny, someone who held a glimmer of hope that the kindness were real, but the training to know it would be short-lived. I do hope you get a second chance, and I'm glad you're not perpetuating the cycle with your own children.

    • Guest says:

      Shelby hit it right on the head. I too live many miles away & this mother reminded me of both of my parents: verbally abusive, self-centered, in denial and utterly unable to accept criticism in a real and meaningful way – a way in which CHANGE could occur. The hurtful scars from this kind of verbal battery would never be accepted if it was physical – and even though words last *much* longer than bruises, people continue to somehow think this isn't as bad as the latter.
      I actually showed this episode to one of my siblings and the way she reminded us of our mother/father was shocking. It made them feel ill too.
      I hope that Donny & family get away from her – she will not change and she will never be able to have a mother/son (and granddaughter) relationship. She will be abusive for as long as they are around. To paraphrase the movie "Jaws" – she is a perfect abusing machine: all she does is eat, smoke and abuse people – and you are either going to cut off her supply of people, or she will keep on.
      I don't say any of this to be mean either – it's just the way things are. Calling out the truth isn't a bad thing – it's what can save someone that may need desperately to get away from such abuse.

  9. Lynn says:

    The place is gross.I went there after the show and found the food bad and yes there is still dirty places in the dining room that needs to be cleaned.God only knows what the kitchen looks like.

  10. Sandy says:

    We went to the Kalico Kitchen after the show was aired. When we stopped in, we did not know that Restaurant Impossible had been there. We waited 10 minutes for menus and finally went and got our own(there were only 4 other tables of customers in the whole restaurant) We ordered dessert and when we received the bill we were charged double for the dessert. We mentioned it to our waiter and he said "we are getting new menus soon and that is the price on the new menu" We will never go back.

    • j searver says:

      the old menus are back they have been thear 36years and they will stay j sorry about your visit i hope you will come back all the seavers are not like that he is no longer hear

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