Restaurant Revisited: Unfixable Family at Mike La Susa’s Italian Restaurant

by in Shows, December 4th, 2013

Restaurant: ImpossibleIt didn’t take long for Robert Irvine to realize he was facing two missions at Mike La Susa’s Italian Restaurant in Oak Creek, Wis. Not only was he to overhaul the decor and reinvent the menu, but he also had to contend with the family, owners Patrick and Mary, plus their son, Mike. This trio was barely able to communicate with each other when Robert arrived, and it was up to him to attempt to see to the root of their problems while working with his Restaurant: Impossible team to transform the failing eatery into a welcoming, comfortable space. With a budget of only $10,000 and just two days to institute changes, Robert ultimately reopened Mike La Susa’s to a crowd of customers. Read on below for an exclusive update on how the restaurant is doing today.

Mike is enjoying the updated menu, although business has struggled a bit since the transformation, as the changes in the list of offerings have been difficult for longtime customers to accept. He’s still the main cook, and he is planning to eventually add some of the original dishes back to the menu.

Mike’s working with an accountant in the hopes of eventually taking over the financials of the restaurant from Mary and Patrick, who’s decreased the amount of time he works at Mike La Susa’s. Mike is grateful that this experience allowed him to talk openly with his family.

Check out top-five video mash-ups from Restaurant: Impossible to see the most-unforgettable meltdowns, worst staff moments and dirtiest restaurants.

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Seven (November 27)
Georgia Boy Cafe (November 20)
Coach Lamp Restaurant & Pub (November 13)
The Windsor 75 (November 6)
Ducky’s Family Restaurant (October 30)
Mama Campisi’s Restaurant (October 23)
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 (801)

  1. Guest says:

    Mary is one of the most unlikeable, wretched people I have ever seen. She's a complete bully to her son, and probably to her husband as well. Heaven help anyone who has to deal with this miserable woman.

    • Rodger says:

      Seriously! Thank you for saying that. I just watched this episode and stood slack jawed watching that woman emotionally abuse her son. Wretched..what a great word.

  2. Frank Rizzo says:

    That old lady, Mary, is one of the coldest most heartless people I have ever seen. She seems like a miserable, terrible person. She clearly has no business in the restaurant business. Mike seems to have some passion and needs to put that into his food every day.

  3. DebInCali says:

    I agree that Mary is easily seen as a villain. Mothers are often overbearing when they see their children failing. Sometimes it's best to actually let them go off into the world and test than their own wings rather than to hold them firmly in an unhappy nest and promise them they'll never make it if they go. I agree with the family dynamic is really the issue. I have grown children, and understand how they can disappoint. I'd say get all the way in and let him run it, or quit threatening and let him go figure lif out on his own. It's an unhealthy situation all the way around. BTW, I have always enjoyed this show and NEVER saw such dysfunction to prompt me to actually say a word. I wish the best for this family. Each of them. The restaurant is really irrelevant. They have bigger issues.

  4. Ana717 says:

    I am an attorney and I know several very nasty stupid obnoxious attorneys (daily hazard) but Mary comes very close to being worse than all of them … This is her son! But I think everyone around her realizes that, but she seems to have never got the memo. As a parent, you should build up your children, not shut them down. Mike doesn't seem to have been so bad as to warrant the offensive and derogatory treatment Mary and Patrick so disgustingly bestowed upon him. He actually seems like the better parent to Mary & Patrick's childish and churlish antics. Mike, don't lose your passion and don't let your parents destroy you or your dreams. And thank you Mary and Patrick, for showing to the entire world how to recognize horrible parenting 101. Thank you (NOT!) Mary for making attorneys appear to be even bigger asses than we really are!! Leave Mike in peace and he will be sure to flourish. Stick around and he will surely fail. Mary you are so wrong … People don't like you, they are afraid of you! And your poor son suffers from your assinine personality!!

  5. Becky Johnson says:

    I would use this episode of RI as a perfect case study in psychology class of what appears to be Narcissistic Personality Disorder in a mother, and its affect on an adult son. I am sure there are plenty of sides to this story, but Mary showed zero real love for her son in any of the interviews, there was nothing but coldness and polishing her own image going on. Lawyers, actors, and pastors are some of the most common professions for people with NPD to aspire to, they are never wrong, they speak with contempt to those who they feel don't meet up to their standards, but they believe themselves to be admired and loved by others who don't know them very well. Oh, Mike. I would suggest you forget family therapy and just get a good professional therapist who understands narcissism and its affect on an adult child and how to heal, separate and move on from it. Sadly, I think this may mean that he has to disconnect from his parents to be emotionally healthy, and that likely means giving up the restaurant. But better than giving up your sanity and your personal power. No amount of money or success is worth that.

  6. DebInCali says:

    I agree that Mary is easily seen as a villain. Mothers are often overbearing when they see their children failing. Sometimes it's best to actually let them go off into the world and test than their own wings rather than to hold them firmly in an unhappy nest and promise them they'll never make it if they go. I agree with the family dynamic is really the issue. I have grown children, and understand how they can disappoint. I'd say get all the way in and let him run it, or quit threatening and let him go figure lif out on his own. It's an unhealthy situation all the way around. BTW, I have always enjoyed this show and NEVER saw such dysfunction to prompt me to actually say a word. I wish the best for this family. Each of them. The restaurant is really irrelevant. They have bigger issues.

  7. Hopeful says:

    Shame. An episode filled with shameful behavior perpetrated by parents to son. Their toxic shame-based family dynamics had spread from family to restaurant and from restaurant to viewers. The universality of shame is what draws so many comments about this episode. Everyone knows what it feels like to feel ashamed and to be shamed by another person. Its why we find ways to medicate. One medication can be overworking, and though the pressure and exhaustion is killing the person, they continue because their 'productivity' is glorified by those around them. But, the other side of that coin can be perceived laziness. A person can shut down and almost become paralyzed, a ghost of the person they once were or have dreamt of becoming.

    Toxic shame is typically multi-generational, with two shamed and hurting adults finding each other but passing on their unresolved hurt and family secrets on to their children. THeir children grow up with the responsibility to follow certain rules of behavior if they are to avoid receiving shame. Each child has a different way of coping and but the message is clear – this is a closed family, if you leave or expose the shame, the secrets, the failures, you are out. And if you won't leave, we'll leave you.

    The rules are:
    (1) Control – a way of protecting and hiding the feelings of shame, fear of shame, or actual shame
    (2) Perfectionism – the demand of high performance and the expectation that the whole family maintains the appearance of perfection.
    (3) Blame – when control fails, blaming others or circumstances takes over
    (4) Denial of Freedom – the demand that you not think, feel, perceive, choose or imagine on your own
    (5) No Talk – denied self-expression; nothing is ever talked about or resolved, family secrets are kept quite or else
    (6) No Mistakes – If you make mistakes, you are open to criticism and so you cover up your own and if someones else makes a mistake you shame them since they broke the rule
    (7) Unreliability – the parents did not get their needs met as children and so they will not be their for their children and so the dysfunction continues

    A two day show and a burst of "passion" for cooking will not sustain the inevitability of Mike making mistakes, because he is human. What will happen to him then? How is he prepared to counter his parents, or others who will step in when he breaks the family rules. I hope that Mike has found or is finding ways to break the cycle, for his own health and future. He is worth it.

    He showed real courage by stepping away from the control by his parents, exposing the secret of his parent's shame, even if it was on national television. That kind of toxicity can't be hidden, edited or blamed on the son. If he makes a break for health, he will lose a lot, maybe even the 'relationship' with his parents. And if they are his only perceived support network, it will feel like he is divorcing himself from them, or cutting out a piece of his heart – initially. But, with the support of others, he can have a life with his parents in it, if they choose to be in it and behave themselves by rising to where he is in terms of behavior, boundary setting and enforcing, loving and forgiving.

    I think this show reveals the high cost of toxic shame, shame-based family systems, abuse, fear-filled living and presumptuous, god-like control and subjugation of another human being. It hits home with viewers because its universal: either experienced in homes, at work, in communities, in and across nations. God help us learn a new and life-giving way.

  8. Tucker says:

    Mom………..see you next Tuesday

  9. @BOBONZE says:

    I've seen this episode too many times, and every time, the treatment the son got continues to sicken me.
    I'm sure nothing much has changed since the airing of this, in regards to how that mother treats his son. Yeah, she invested money into it, but I really think it wasn't out of generosity. She has no faith in the guy to run a business, and never let him. Grant it, I'm only basing this on watching a 1 hour episode, but she said what said, and her body language spoke volumes. Right up to the end. In so far as the father, he threw up his arms and just walked away. My guess is he was beat down by that woman just as much.
    I've seen episodes where there might be a son involved in the parents business, and they had a troubled history (arrests or prison) and the parents were more supportive. In this episode, the guy (Mike), was barely given a chance. Hell, even Chef Irvine saw that he was beating his own head against a brick wall with her.

    As I see it, the parents only invested money in him in the hopes of a monetary return (plus dividends by their attitude). I didn't see some kid that was running off with his parents money to get drugs or get drunk or anything like that. Yeah, it was only a 45 minutes of show, but if that's how the parents act knowing there are cameras on them…for the love of god, this mother pretty much said she expected Chef Irvine to come waltzing in there with a magic wand and make it all better! On camera!

  10. Sherry says:

    I have living proof that people like mikes mom do exist. my sons X and her mom have to be identical to mikes mom. these 2 women have just about put my son in a nut house, but I think they take the cake over mikes mom. I would sell tickets if the 3 of them could get into a I'm right you're wrong match!!!
    keep doing what you do mike and best of luck and God bless.

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