Restaurant Revisited: Mumbo Jumbo at Estrada’s Restaurant

by in Shows, February 5th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhen Robert Irvine arrived at Estrada’s Restaurant in Daly City, Calif., it wasn’t enough for his Restaurant: Impossible team that the owners, Bernadette Aggen and Julio Mercedes, were facing more than $400,000 of debt; they seemed downright disinterested in their 96-year-old restaurant, which they purchased nearly six years ago. After surveying the interior of Estrada’s, however, and tasting its food, Robert learned that the Mexican eatery’s problems went beyond its management. With just two days and $10,000 to work, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team successfully overhauled the menu and updated the design at Estrada’s, all while reinvigorating Bernadette and Julio. Read on below to hear from the owners in their first exclusive interview since the transformation, and find out how their restaurant is doing today.

Sales at Estrada’s have increased nearly 30 percent, according to Bernadette and Julio, who add that their business is now profitable and that they’ve begun to decrease their debt.

In terms of customer reaction to the updated restaurant, Bernadette and Julio say they’ve received “great feedback” about the design, and diners note that the food is “more bright, clean, new [and] modern,” according to the owners. They add that “coconut shrimp posole [and] mole enchiladas” are among the top items on the menu at Estrada’s, which has improved its efficiency in sending food out of the kitchen.

Bernadette and Julio say they’re improving in their partnered appearance to their employees and note that their staff is a “work in progress,” though responding “great” to the updates at Estrada’s. Bernadette admits that she’s spending “more time on [the] floor … [to] ensure great service” and “leading by example” to her employees, while Julio has a greater hand in the food costs of the restaurant.

Both owners say they’re “excited about the future” and that their relationship is “more united” than it was before Robert arrived.

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Hillbillies Restaurant (January 29)
Spunky Monkey Bar and Grill (January 15)
Heather’s Country Kitchen (January 1)
Goombazz Big City Eatzz (December 18)
LBI Pancake House (December 8)
Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Company (December 8)
Mike La Susa’s Italian Restaurant (December 4)
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)


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Comments (50)

  1. RIviewer says:

    I wanted to hear if he went and saw his mom. I hope so … life is short. Family should be priority. Hope they are doing well – sounds like it is better.

  2. Michael says:

    Nice people, hope they continue to do well.

  3. KEFFI says:


  4. June says:

    I june am happy all worked out for Julio and Bernadette and I would like a follow up if Julio went to see his mother. Wish the both of them love ,warmth ,and success!

  5. bamboodiaries says:

    Reread the article. It says they are profitable and have begun to decrease their debt. The 30% increase in sales doesn't represent actual profits, and doesn't take into account any changes they made to menu prices, to bring everything closer to the food costs x 3 formula that Robert suggested. If they were losing 5-10K before, and are now showing a positive balance at the end of the month, that would allow them to start chipping away at their debt.

  6. FNGossip says:

    30% sales increase makes the business profitable now? After a supposed $400,000 in debt after 6 years… Something doesn't add up. Either way, I hope they are successful

    • B. Thompson says:

      Thanks for taking the time to type a back handed comment. The doubt is not ok'd by the final wish.

      I know the restaurant and I am sure this is the beginning of a very much deserved success.

    • Leslie says:

      Your business is deemed profitable if you are taking in more than you have to spend. Most businesses have outstanding debt. Their business is profitable if they are paying bills with some left over to pay toward the debt. Profitable does not mean debt free.

    • ZZbrewhound says:

      The key takeaway about being profitable is that Robert showed them how to price and portion their dishes to make them profitable – which they weren't doing before.

    • Rick says:

      Yes, 30% can easily be more than it takes to go from losing money to making a profit. Why wouldn't it?

    • sibelius says:

      Remember, they also reduced food costs to increase margins. 30% more sales with greater profit per sale – sounds like a big change.

  7. Drew Martin says:

    Great episode, one of the more up-beat. Julio and Bernadette both are bright, motivated and from what I see, very capable, hopefully the nudge from Robert will send them in the direction they deserve. Good Luck!

  8. Andy says:

    One of the best shows. Cheryl and Tom did a great job on the transformation. I really liked that they kept the floor and only replaced the more outlandish tiles. The food looks terrific – my wife and I both got hungry for Mexican food while watching the show. Also, maybe it's just my imagination, but Robert seemed a bit more toned down than usual. I was glad to see it as lately he's seemed very stressed.

  9. Carmen says:

    I hope Julio go to see his mom because is the more important .the restaurant come out beautiful.good luck

  10. Donavin says:

    Went there the other day and it was horrible! There was no structure to the service and our server quit during his shift. Food took way to long for being not that great and our drinks took almost 30 min. Just for a beer and marg. Unacceptable. During all this the chef was at the bar sitting having a drink and you could tell the owner was drunk. This place has no chance.

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