Restaurant Revisited: Culture Clash at Marie’s at Ummat Cafe

by in Shows, July 30th, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible“This is tasteless,” Robert Irvine said of the tableful of dishes he sampled at Marie’s at Ummat Cafe in Atlanta. It turns out that the restaurant’s bland food was just one in a series of problems he and his Restaurant: Impossible team discovered on their latest mission. The uninspired decor was appalling to Robert and guests alike, and the staff struggled to work well with owner Jaliwa Owuo. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert overhauled the menu at Marie’s and reopened the eatery with a design that would be welcoming for all. Read on below to hear from Jaliwa and find out how her restaurant is doing today.

“We have seen a 30 to 40 percent increase in revenue” since filming ended, Jaliwa explains, noting that “the tipping has increased by 90 percent.”

Jaliwa says that she “learned an awful lot from Chef Robert” and has taken the time since the transformation to start “adding new dishes, releasing old ones and pricing according to his formula.” She notes that she’s no longer micromanaging her back-of-the-house employees, and she explains, “I have allowed my kitchen staff to do what they can do.”

There have been some changes in staff at Marie’s, and several of Jaliwa’s children are no longer working at the restaurant. “Takuma did not stay. He is doing his own thing. … Majidah is back in Ohio. Ndola and Asha only come for lunch from time to time, and I am fine with that,” says Jaliwa. She adds, “My relationship with my children is great.”

The greater Atlanta community is “trickling in” to Marie’s, but Jaliwa adds, “We are working on a guerilla campaign to introduce the restaurant to the community.”

In terms of Jaliwa’s newfound outlook, she explains, “My spirit is up; I am appreciating my quality of life again.” She adds that she now “love[s] entering the restaurant” and explains, “I am thankful to Chef Robert and his support team for all they did.”

More from Restaurant Revisited:

The Fork Diner (July 23)
Portu-Greek Cafe (June 11)
Grace’s Place Bagels and Deli (June 4)
Bama Q (May 28)
Cave Inn BBQ (May 21)
Bumbinos Italian Ristorante (April 30)
Bryant’s Seafood World (April 23)
Urban Roots (April 9)
gratifi kitchen + bar (April 2)
Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria (March 26)
Pasión Latin Fusion (March 19)
Tootie’s Texas BBQ (March 12)
Mill Creek BBQ Restaurant (March 5)
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)

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Comments (70)

  1. Jeremy says:

    THANK YOU Robert and the Food Network for airing this show. I had the chance to view it last night and had to send this to you. I sure enjoy most of your episode, especially this one, where you showed respect, tolerance and what makes the beautiful fabric of our lovely country. Like Melissa said above "Thank you for being a positive image to America."

  2. norrma says:

    Sure wish someone would talk about the food. Everyone seems obsesses with religion & that's not why I would go there if I lived nearby.

  3. Junior says:

    I want to see this restaurant grow, as I am native Atlanta and have over the years seen Atlanta change in so many wrong ways. I do have to say this though, here in the south we will hug you if we care about you if you hold still long enough. It almost hurt my feelings that she told Robert that she couldn't touch him (due to her religion). I am a hugger myself for a friend. I would be more worried now to offend someone working there than I probably should. Not sure that helped for bringing in a Catholic like me, but still hope they do well! I love my Atlanta folk! (May still look them up though!) :)

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