Restaurant Revisited: Bring Mama Back at Mama Campisi’s Restaurant

by in Shows, October 23rd, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“My job here is intense, to say the least,” Robert Irvine said not long after arriving at Mama Campisi’s Restaurant in St. Louis. This nine-year-old Italian eatery was once profitable, making nearly $1 million in revenue, but after employee theft resulted in more than $70,000 in losses, the business faded, and now husband-and-wife owners Lance and Andrea Ervin face nearly $600,000 worth of debt. But beyond their financial struggles, Andrea was overwhelmed by her situation, so Robert’s mission was twofold: Give Mama Campisi’s the tools it needs to succeed again, and help Andrea and her family regain their trust in their restaurant. After just two days and with only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Campisi’s with an inspired menu, a transformed interior and the skills needed to ensure future profits. FN Dish checked in with Andrea and Lance to find how the business is doing today.

“Business seems to have picked up,” Andrea said. “We were able get a couple [people] paid in full, however, due to the repairs that had to be done, we have been at a standstill right now.”

The menu at Mama Campisi’s now incorporates several of Robert’s recommendations for improvement, including altered prices. We “added the rabbit, modified some of our dishes with ingredient suggestions [and] have made some dishes smaller,” Andrea told FN Dish. “We are getting new menus made with some nice wine pairings on them to possibly increase sales.” She also noted that the rabbit is “a huge hit” among customers. And as for the ravioli, Andrea explained, “We are still making the ravioli fresh daily but did tweak the recipe to a more-traditional style that suits our clientele.”

Since the show filmed, Lauren has continued to work at Mama Campisi’s, and Andrea noted that her daughter isn’t receiving any special treatment. “I treat her as an employee at work … I just try not to show any favoritism so the employees don’t dislike her.”

Despite her best intentions, Andrea hasn’t been able to spend more time at home. “The restaurant is needing more of our time,” Lance explained, “which is fine. We would rather take this time and make it right.” And Andrea readily agreed, explaining: “We are much, much, much happier than we have been in a long time. Early mornings and late nights are worth the sacrifice right now to make this place a success for my family.” Speaking of Lance and Lauren, Andrea said: “I am so thankful for the both of them more than you imagine. If it were not for their love and support, I would not be able to do this.”

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Aponte’s Pizzeria (August 25)
Benner Street (July 28)
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)

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Comments (56)

  1. Epic Fail says:

    “We are still making the ravioli fresh daily but did tweak the recipe to a more-traditional style that suits our clientele.”

    Anyone else think that really means, "We went back to using frozen ravioli"?

  2. Raider Duck says:

    So what was the deal with her "THEY STOLE FROM ME! I'LL NEVER TRUST AN EMPLOYEE AGAIN!" shtick? Was she screwing one of them on the side or something? I ask because her emotional reaction is far more like a betrayed lover than a betrayed boss.

    • CAPTAIN says:


    • Melanie says:

      I honestly don't know if she was having an affair, I really doubt it. What I do know is that Andrea and her old manager Rich "the thief" we're making a butt ton of money shorting the staffs checks and cheating the government out of payroll taxes. A few employees had garnishments taken out of their checks but the money was never disbursed to the court assigned recipients. They have stolen or cheated every chance they have had. Mamas puts on a charity golf tournament every year for children's hospital. They take from those donations what they wish, then donate the rest. Ask them if it's tax deductible?

  3. Leslie says:

    Poor lady, not! She has no time for her children and has no money. How much does she spend on her acrylic nails ,pedicure, hair color and teeth whitening? And how much time do those services take? Notice she didn't cry when her kids were talking about missing her. No sympathy here when she is glomming up instead of cutting back and using that time to take time with her kids.

    • Dale says:

      Also how does get time to go to the tanning salon. ????? And they are stupid to change the menu

    • Michelle says:

      I too noted, Leslie, that the owners were both sporting serious tans to sunburns. The woman had a fresh dye job, fresh manicure and yes, did not shed a tear over her children. I suspect in the family food chain these kids know where they stand with mom & dad, directly behind the money. Unfortunately, if they don't get this restaurant straight, that will be drying up. Cleaniless, great service and decent food are, at the bare minimum what anyone expects when dining out. Sounds like you won't be getting any of those things at Mama's. And note, I found the design teams idea of river rock wallpaper to be a cheap, classless fix. I've seen them do better, this was not it.

      • Leslie says:

        I think they wanted a makeover and will sell this location to focus on the other restaurant that they were hiding. Hopefully it is close to the salon!

  4. marcus falco says:

    The woman needs to see a doctor quickly….her fingernails have turned all BLACK! She couldn;t even properly wipe her eyes during her constant crying. Having worked for several Italian 'family' run restaurants in my youth I can certainly sympathize with the former employees watching the show. They are beyond demanding and their relatives working there treat the help like total crap….and enjoy doing it! Perhaps a broad generalization, but certainly my experience in such places!

    • Joyous says:

      As the former manager who was on the show, I can say that I have never witnessed ANY employee leave on good terms. Kim the server is Andreas little punching bag. Andrea treats her like crap! I feel sorry for her! Kim actually manages, if you want to call it that, she mostly stirs up trouble between Andrea and the employees. Kim's daughter Melanie is just like her, she her mom and Andrea love drama and secrets. When I began looking for another job, Andrea and Kim hacked into my google account and cancelled all of my interviews I had set up via email. She then held back my last check in addition to my vacation pay days before I was due to leave with my 4 kids and wife, completely wrecking our plans. That's what 60 plus hrs a week gives you from this horrible woman. I was the one that put all of my time in away from my family, she never put in weekends and was hardly ever. They love their vacations though. I dare them to call me a liar! They can't and they know it!

    • laurA says:

      OKay Greek2me this comment was not even about the woman in the show it was about Robert
      and his wife STOP with the She is nuts comment we get the picture

  5. Sandy says:

    Something very insincere about this woman. Her reaction to her kids was almost sarcastic. Ten years from now when they are gone and want nothing to do with her, she will feel a huge loss and there will be nothing she can do to get it back. Very sad.

  6. J sweeter says:

    I like chicken, do you like chicken?

  7. AceofTaste says:

    I was laughing so hard when Robert started placing those chains around Andrea's neck. She said she had surgery and had been out for a long time with back problems.

  8. Olive Oil says:

    It does not sound like much changed from the original! They're at a standstill. Doesn't sound promising. Hoping it does get better for them, especially the children. They need their parents in their life.

  9. Roger says:

    I really enjoy Robert and the show. We visited the restaurant right before they came and after they left, the service was not an improvement; the physical changes to the place were a little less impressive than we expected. Fresh paint, better separation between areas, but cant say I'm a fan of the wall paper stuff. it just felt like cheap upgrades. Not probably what they usually do, and probably not Roberts teams best effort. I'll have to go back and check on the rabbit.

    Sad to see the transformation didn't improve her relationship with her family or align her priorities any better… Perhaps Dr. Phil next? the toasted raviolis were great though!

    My guess is the teams heart might not have been totally in this one.

    • MattfromWA says:

      Yeesh, I actually felt some optimism about this place after the show was over, but if the reviews that Eric R. and others have posted are accurate then probably nothing anybody could do will save the restaurant. Hope that the family can turn things around though.
      I disagree with Roger about the renovation. I thought it was one of Cheryl's better efforts and a one hundred percent improvement.

  10. Buffalo Gal says:

    I think one thing that is being overlooked is that the mom clearly is suffering from clinical depression. The lack of interest in the restaurant, constant crying, wanting to go to bed as soon as she goes home, loss of interest in her kids, etc. are classic signs of depression. I have experienced depression firsthand in my family and know that this is a serious illness and not one that is going to be overcome with a two-day makeover to the restaurant. i feel so sorry for her beautiful kids, but the mom needs help! Hope her husband wakes up to this fact and helps her get the treatment she needs.

    • no one special says:

      they have pretty well ignored their kids since birthing them in the pursuit of $$$ …

      • Leslie says:

        I don't really see depression in her behavior. Depressed people usually don't spend so much time and money on their appearance. She was hesitant when Robert asked if she loved her husband. I'm thinking there may be some relationship issue there. But depressed? Not sure

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