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. Diane says:

    I spent almost $11.00 for a brisket sandwich, cole slaw & drink. This was before the renovation. Food bland not worth the $$. My daughter tried the restraurant the friday after the show & got a COLD hamburger & ok fries. None of us will go again. People will flock to a place that has good food even if the location is not the best. The Mug & Alfredos in San Bernardino are good examples.

  2. worldexpolorer says:

    STOP HATING ON CHERYL!!! I think she does the BEST designs on the show. Lynn is nice but his designs are not that good. As previously stated, Taniya is hit or miss. Go Cheryl :D

  3. hopyksnb says:

    Improving and creating new dishes, which is great, but did steve family, they business, make money but respect is the most important quality, reputation for fresh food

  4. Sandy says:

    We visited before and after the episode and were not impressed either time. The barbecue sauce is good, but everything else is mediocre. One of our party was served a cold smoked sausage and although she complained about it twice, no one offered to do anything about it. I had the pulled pork and found it very fatty. The brisket was bloody raw. We took it home and cooked it in the microwave for the dog. The coleslaw and the corn cake were okay. The decor looked cheap, especially those bare light bulbs hanging from wires just above eye level. The painted license plates looked horrible, too, aside from the fact that they lost all value the moment they were painted. Maybe locals will continue to support this place for a while, but unless they seriously improve, I don't think they'll make it. It just wasn't worth the cost. We would rather have spent that much at Famous Dave's. We won't go back.

  5. It's Me says:

    The food was good but cold. All times I have been there the food was cold. :( Sad because I think if they got that part taken care of they may have better success. The staff were very friendly! Happy with everything but the temp of the food.

  6. Chris says:

    We stopped in recently after seeing the show. The menu was overwhelming so we ordered different burgers. The meat was bland and the bread was soggy. The fries were cold and the onion rings were cold greasy and limp. Very disappointed in entire experience. We felt like we were imposing on the staff by being there. Will not be going back.

  7. We stopped in at Mill Creek last week, and while the food has definitely improved, there are still a number of problems there. The poutine, which was unique, addictive and could have been a signature dish had they bothered to promote it, is no longer on the menu. The last time we ordered it, about a month ago, the cook told us (ten minutes after the order for four poutines was placed) that they weren't going to make it anymore because they didn't have ingredients for the gravy. Then somehow they *found* the ingredients and gave us our order. Now it's gone altogether. Some of the staff still don't seem to know what's on the menu and what isn't

  8. Val says:

    I feel bad for Robert and his crew wasting their time for going and trying to help this place out. My husband and I have been wanting to go since it was featured on the show. We ate there yesterday and it was sooooooo disgusting! tables and floor were filthy dirty so we ate outside in the 98degree weather. on the very uncomfortable benches. The food was gross and cold had to send my burger back two times. I didn't complain because my husband doesn't like me to. Called the next day to try to contact the owner and she wasn't there only her rude un professional daughter who has no customer service what's so ever! All she did was laugh at me and I asked for her name and she said "what for im the owners daughter what are they going to do to me??" Im very angry with this place I hope it goes out of business for the slap in the face they give Robert for not following his success tips

  9. aliceb says:

    Looks great, I love good barbecue.

  10. Patricia says:

    I am so glad I read the comments before visiting this restaurant. I live in Riverside and will NOT be wasting my time to drive 20 minutes to eat the food the way it's described in the comments. I wonder if Robert reads the comments after he leaves.

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