Restaurant Revisited: Up in Smoke at Mill Creek BBQ Restaurant

by in Shows, March 5th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhile the name Mill Creek BBQ Restaurant would suggest an eatery proficient in preparing succulent, Southern-style ‘cue, the reality at this Redlands, Calif., spot was that owners Lisette and Steve Brown were dishing up bland food in a poorly run environment, according to Robert Irvine. In the first mission of Restaurant: Impossible, Season 8, the fearless and determined host worked on revamping Mill Creek’s menu in the hopes of offering more full-flavored favorites. He and his team had only two days and a limited budget to execute their plans, plus give Steve the tools to successfully run the restaurant and dissolve the strain on the Browns’ blended family. Read on below to hear from Steve a few months after Mill Creek’s Impossible transformation, and learn how his business and family are doing today.

“When we compared last year’s numbers to January 2014, we had a sales increase of exactly 28 percent,” Steve explains. He says that the update in design at his restaurant “is like night and day” and that he’s pleased with the changes that Robert and his team made. “We went from a totally Western style quick-service restaurant to a more modern, slightly upscale quick-service restaurant.”

Mill Creek is now serving a mix of Robert’s and the business’ dishes, according to Steve. “Overall we are very pleased with most of the new items, but we did integrate some of our old menu items, because contrary to what Robert thought of our food, we had a small but loyal group of customers that loved our food.” Steve is particularly wowed by the chili, explaining, “Robert came in and in five minutes, took my recipe, deleted 100 ingredients and with a few simple tweaks that only a pro like Robert could do, created the tastiest chili.” He adds that “the poutine with mushroom gravy, topped with pulled pork over crispy potatoes is redonkulously good” and “the new burgers are delicious.”

Steve adds that “food costs are still one of the most-difficult things to contain,” so he’s now working with an independent business as well as his brother in order to streamline some of the details.

As for his radio segment with Robert, Steve explains, “Our hope is the radio expanded our customer pool and once the show airs, our customer pool will expand even more.” He adds, however, that he and his team are committed to offering a pleasant experience to their customers. “We have been working overtime trying to maintain high standards for our quick-service restaurant. We have instituted new policies and procedures to help us accomplish our goals of great food, great service and friendly attitudes.”

Brooke and Lisette “still have their ups and downs like most families, but having that ‘therapy’ session with Chef Robert helped immensely,” according to Steve. “There is a definite change in the way they treat each other; there is a certain level of respect that they have afforded each other.”

In evaluating himself in light of his Restaurant: Impossible experience, Steve says, “I am definitely more positive about the direction of the restaurant. I knew we had problems … lots of them, but I just didn’t know where to start.” He adds of his skills to date: “I have put [Robert’s] advice into action. I’m a totally different owner/boss/manager. Gone are the days of accepting excuses from my employees; I expect only the best, and if they don’t bring it, they hear about it.”

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Estrada’s Restaurant (February 5)
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)

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Comments (89)

  1. FNGossip says:

    So far so good. It is also known as Mill Creek Cattle Company if you are looking for it.

    • Colorado Chef says:

      Hey Matt,

      What do you know about the production of the show? I imagine Robert has at least one chef or experienced cook who travels with him, maybe more. Do they use volunteers in the kitchen?
      The logistics of getting a new menu up and running are pretty daunting when you expect a full house seated all at once.
      What can you tell me about how they get it done?

  2. jennie says:

    i think they need to get rid of Brooke I was there a couple weeks ago and she was rude and getting drunk out front with her friends and calling more to come treating the employees bad and rude

  3. Reginald Anderson says:

    I live in South Carolina and know good bar-b-q. I am really hoping this restaurant succeeds. They seem like really humble people. How can you not root for people like that

  4. Howie says:

    All the best with the mill creek

  5. @blondcurls says:

    Have tried this place several times in the past and it was awful. The decor of the place really doesn't matter to me, but a nicer looking place is nice to have. We will try it again after tonights program. If it has not changed, if the food is still dry and overcooked and with no flavor it will be the last time we go in there. I love good BBQ and am hoping this place will get a lot of Roberts visit.

  6. Loyal RI audience says:

    My husband and I really don't like the designer's works. We agree with Robert that the electric lines of bulbs look unfinished, and the bamboo painting is the most weirdest thing in a barbecue restaurant. Cheryl, the designer, should have best used the high ceiling as well. We were very disappointed with the new look of the restaurant. Please give us more Lynn Kegan (another FN designer) instead of Cheryl and Tanya. Those restaurant owners invested money for the renovation of their restaurants, and they deserved better services.

    • guest says:

      i like tanya but totally agree cheryl is terrible. the lights didnot look good. thankfully robert had them paint above that weird paper thing. i didn't get that big wood thing either. the whole remodel was a huge miss

    • Kerrie says:

      Ha Ha, I was remembering a show from way back when Robert and Cheryl disagreed on a lighting fixture – she was wrapping bamboo strips or something, trying to make spheres. They did look awful. I agreed about the hanging wire fixtures at Mill Creek, too, they just looked unfinished. I guess sometimes the designer's vision is not what the masses like to see! I love Lynn, too, and was so surprised to see him on RI, as I'd watched him many a time on HGTV doing what Tom does… he is a great designer and I love it when he is on the show. I love Tanya, too, though. She was one of my faves from HGTV and she still is. Such a sweet person and I like her ideas most of the time. However, I agree that Lynn has surpassed them all. He and Tom together knock it out of the park every time.

    • Julie B says:

      Don't you find that all the designs look similar even thought it's 3 different designers? They all go for the clean, contemporary, industrial look. Don't get me wrong, I like it and it's always an improvement. They all have the same 3/4 things: vinyl flooring (a must have), green/red or blue paint or wallpaper, and some rectangular element posing as artwork on the walls.

    • AJI says:

      Cheryl constantly reminded me of the preschool projects that my girls went through. She always employed dirt cheap materials to make the deco look very cheap & no taste. Everybody loves Tanya, check with her background & resume, then you would not surprise why she is so good.

    • RI Fan says:

      Hi, I always watch RI and I do not agree with you!
      Lynn's designs are not good!
      He always has the ugly green look and it just does not fit!
      In this case I agree with the bamboo part but she is a much better designer and so is Tanya!

  7. Sabihondo says:

    Don't you have a bunker to go hide in my friend? How did you get cable TV and internet down there?

  8. Rene says:

    So true, many businesses are having issues due to the economy. Many people are saying another 3 years of this and its all over. And the way businesses are funded and the interest rate makes it impossible for most to run correctly. Our government makes more off a business than the owners.

  9. Colorado Chef says:

    Pretty good show. Steve seemed like such a nice guy. I hope he toughens up a little bit. Being affable and sentimental is fine, but when you are running a restaurant you need to be more firm. Steve, you're the captain of the ship, you're the go-to guy; you need to get an edge to show the crew you WILL be listened to and things will be done right. To be a restaurant owner or a chef you have to be part Mother Teresa and part Captain Bligh. Steve, you have the Mother Teresa part, now put on your Captain Bligh pants and you'll be fine.

    How in the world could you require a separate consulting business and your brother to figure out your food cost?
    Five things can jack your food cost:
    A sudden rise in prices.
    Portions too big for your menu price.
    Menu prices too low.
    Employee theft.
    If you figure your prices correctly and the cost of goods is pretty stable, the big ones to look at are theft and waste. If food is being thrown out because you are inefficient in your handling or because you prep too much and end up losing food to spoilage; that's bad but easily fixed. That's where cracking the whip comes in handy. Get your cooks' attention and show them proper technique and planning.
    The first thing that went through my mind when Robert talked about the hamburger cost was theft. I have a feeling food is walking out the back door.

    Good luck to Mill Creek.

    • SteveCampsOut says:

      I wish I could give you Two thumbs up!

    • Joanna says:

      well, I think there is a fine line between affable and daft. I think Steve should have stuck to the drudgery of machine work where he really didn't need to use his brain. That said, I wish them well.

      • Colorado Chef says:

        I agree, Steve probably should not have opened a restaurant. His father-in-law should have said," Not just no, but heck no!!" when Steve floated the idea of his own restaurant.
        However, that ship has sailed and now Steve must deal with the reality of a failing restaurant. And hopefully he has the tools to succeed.

        We only see about 40 minutes of the two days Robert spends with the restaurant. I'm thinking he must spend some time teaching the owners some of the nuts and bolts aspects of the biz.. Otherwise they would mostly all fail. There are lots of little things you need to know to be a success.

        Stevecampsout, thanks for the thumbs up!

    • Dano says:

      You always seam to say the words that are going through my mind. We would have made a hell of a biggest problem now is spending all that money I worked for the last 45 yrs. when I die I want my children too say two things about me. "Dad lived his life like he always wanted, & what did he do with all the MONEY.

    • Frank Biz says:

      I totally agree about the possibility of theft. There could not of been that much spoilage unless their cost numbers were inflated on purpose for tax purposes if you get my drift.

  10. Brett S says:

    Leave it to a ignorant, closed minded, teabagger puppet to try and turn this into another political scandal against our president and have absolutely nothing to actually say about the show and all the good Robert and FN has done for the people they visit and their families. Keep your negativity to people that would agree with you like faux news or rush limbigot. Robert keep up the good work and you have a fan for life here!

    • Julie B says:

      I agree, this should not be a political forum, but comments about an owner's lack of business skills. There's plenty to blame a business' failure on: filthy kitchens, staff who doesn't give a darn, and not having a clue about how to run a restaurant. Thousands upon thousands of places across the country are gold mines.

    • Epic Fail says:

      Brett S, the second you typed the vile "teabagger" slur and other moronic phrases like "faux news" and "rush limbigot", you showed the world just how ignorant, bigoted and closed minded YOU are. That's all your type knows how to do. When you can't dispute the facts and reality of the mess this country is in and the effect it's having on business, small business in particular, who caused and is prepetuating it, you spew a slur and say something stupid.

      Fortunately, you're a rapidly vanishing minority as the country finally wises up, the +14 Thumbs Ups to your drivel not withstanding..

      • Lorin says:

        Not true and how do you all turn a cooking show that is fun into a political arena??
        but fyi, it's the end of the women hating, selfish, big mouths that run your party sir. Good bye!
        and ps so true, faux news!!

    • Hannah Smith says:

      So true…these teabagging idiots say nothing about those in Congress that obstruct as a way of legislating…not to mention shutting down the government and creating an economic mess inside and outside the beltway. But let's blame Mill Creek's financial issues on Obama…yes, he went into this restaurant and screwed them up. Time and time again we see these people with little or no restaurant experience buy a restaurant and expect for it to run itself…they no nothing of how to do the financials or how to run a restaurant at all. Yet they aren't to blame for it's problems? Obama is to blame? Give me a break.

      • Epic Fail says:

        ^^^^ Another ignorant, bigoted and closed minded liberal.

        We say plenty about Harry Reid and the Democrat controlled Senate not introducing bills to the floor, especially the House bills that could have averted the shutdown. And yes, Obama is to blame and has proven it himself over and over again by pencil-whipping through (violating his own law) all the Obamacare delays, which just happened to be exactly what the House was trying to get past the obstructionists Reid and the Senate.

        As for how it relates to this restaurant, it's been negatively effected just like every small business has thanks to the current administration's policies.

    • Lorin says:

      I agree! What does that junk he wrote have to do with the show!!??? lol good one!

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