Restaurant Revisited: Fork in the Road at The Fork Diner

by in Shows, July 23rd, 2014

Restaurant: ImpossibleEven from Robert Irvine‘s first steps inside The Fork Diner in Calhoun, Ga., it was clear that this mission was going to be like none other. Although Robert usually meets with owners before trying an eatery’s food, this time he sat down and immediately ordered from the menu, only talking to partners Gray Bridges and Michael and Diana Forster afterward. Michael revealed that The Fork Diner was losing nearly $12,000 every month, and soon Robert posed an important question to Gray, who’s been the lead funder of the restaurant: Would she continue working at the restaurant or walk away and turn over the business to the husband-and-wife team of Michael and Diana? Gray ultimately revealed that she’d be leaving once filming ended, explaining, “There’s things more important than money and more important than my passion for that restaurant.” Nevertheless, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team continued with their overhaul of The Fork’s disappointing menu and lackluster decor, and they reopened the restaurant to a packed house. Read on below to hear from Diana a few weeks after her business relaunched to learn about Gray’s involvement since taping and how the restaurant is faring today.

“Gray has finally decided to leave and turn things over to us after months of seesawing,” Diana notes. There have been a few other changes in staff, she notes, including a few servers who are no longer working at The Fork. “I did not know how bad they were till they were gone and I got customer feedback. When I was around they were pretty good.”

In terms of the menu at the restaurant, Diana explains that it’s now a mix of Robert’s list of offerings plus some of their original dishes. “People are happier with the additions,” she says, adding, “Shrimp and grits [are the] absolute favorite. Burger and pot roast come next.”

More from Restaurant Revisited:

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 (67)

  1. FNGossip says:

    The restaurant is trying to raise $25,000 to pay unpaid debts. And the fundraiser was started by Gray. More info if you click my name.

    • Joanna says:

      Could you do us a favor and link to the restaurants menus if they websites or FB pages that feature them? Thanks for all the digging you do!

      • FNGossip says:

        I usually do, but this restaurant didnt have a website and they didnt have a copy of a menu on their FB page.

        • Kathy says:

          There's a menu posted on the Facebook page now, but look for 'The Fork Restaurant casual fine dining' to find the 'new' restaurant page. The old page will be taken down soon.

  2. Joanna says:

    They aren't going to succeed. Gray was obviously the only reason customers and staff showed up. While I think this reno was one of the better ones by that designer, I don't think it is enough. Diana hasn't learned how to manage money by the experience and that, I am sure, was a BIG issue with the restaurant failure. I found it interesting that Robert didn't tackle food costs, etc with her on this show like he does with others. I also watched Michael and Diana's faces while Robert was demonstrating the beef dish in the kitchen and they were totally overwhelmed. Michael can't cook. I am just so sorry that Gray didn't have a better attorney when they all signed up for that gig in the first place. I mean..she puts in 300K and the Forster's only put up 75K but they went 50/50 on ownership??? What kind of people/friends are the Forsters to have allowed that? Oh, wait…it was all very clear what kind of people they are by watching the show.

    • Kathy S says:

      I could not agree with you more. If I were Gray I would do what I could to get her money. In the comment from Diana above, I could NOT BELIEVE that she had the nerve to say, “Gray has finally decided to leave and turn things over to us after months of seesawing,” She should be seesawing!!!! Her money is the reason Diana and Michael are still there. They are not trustworthy at all! Get another lawyer Gray!!!! You deserve better!!!!

      • Lynn Lawson says:

        Absolutely agree with you and Joanna. Gray was the pushover and got reamed. Now her husband is losing his building and lot and has to move his store again. WTF? Diana get off your fat ego and Mike, get off your high horse and give that woman her money back. You have destroyed her. I wish she'd drop you both in a pit to wallow in. Sorry asses.

      • Billie Jo says:

        Could Not believe when I heard that she was getting 50% of profits..
        I would have NEVER agreed with that crap..
        From day one she was getting ran over….
        When she said she was leaving, I swear I could read their minds.
        There goes our money train……
        Then Gray was paying employees money from her personally accounts.
        Diana & Michael should have taken a step back, taken a good look at what was going on.

    • Aaron says:

      I don't know about you but I would be happy to be a 50% owner if the restaurant was never profitable!

    • gary says:

      They should have walked away. Their $75K was long gone. Gray should have taking control to try to get her $$$ back.

  3. Kathy S says:

    I hope that the "new owners" pay Gray back. I could not stand Diana's attitude throughout the show. I guarantee you that her handling of the money is why they are in the red. How bout show Gray some of the $300,000 she put into it. To me it seemed as though there was NO sincerity when Gray said she was leaving and they were "upset" she was leaving. Do the right thing and pay her back!

    • Lynn Lawson says:

      YES! But they won't. They took advantage of her generosity and naive ways. I love Gray and
      wish her the best.

  4. Reiena says:

    I just watched the episode as I missed its premier, but I have to say that if you feel in your heart that you're just not into the idea, then you have to follow your heart. I live in NW GA and am heading through Calhoun on a trip in October. Hopefully my itenerary will allow time to stop in and see a resturant that looks good and has good food on the menu. I have to be careful what I eat, and seeing Robert make the pot roast on TV, I know I can have it, and should I stop in; I can't wait to try it for myself.

    • I have a feeling that The Fork probably won't be cooking much – if anything at all – by October. And sadly, I think the only way you'll be able to try Robert's pot roast is if he's there himself to cook it for you.

  5. viv says:

    Is the back pay that wasn't paid their employees going to be paid? I'm from the area and have met the owners. They are nice, but they need to fulfill all their past obligations to their employees.

    • Lynn says:

      Gray is taking the initiative to have the fundme page and paying them out of that. A bad way
      out, but what can I say? I think Mike and his rude wife need to pay back as well. Come on you two, get your heads out of your egos and pay Gray back as well as the incompetent servers you hired.

  6. fabuloso says:

    What trash. They got themselves into huge debt, then start a gofundme to raise funds to pay off their debt. Shameful losers

  7. Blue Desert says:

    This was a sad episode. Gray literally buys her friends a restaurant, altho they do throw in less than 20% of their own money.Then the couple runs the place into the ground and can't pay the employees ,taxes or monthly bills. How arrogant and ruthless can you get ? You could see that Diana was filled with inner rage thruout the episode and knew none of the employees would get their back wages.Then Gray goes on GoFundMe and asks strangers to donate 25k to help them out of debt. This was one crazy episode. My guess is they will close in the coming weeks if they aren't shuttered already. I feel sorry for Gray and all the employees who lost so much.

    • anony says:

      Correct. She threw Gray under the bus and has been for years. Gray was a fool for being the
      main source of funding. Diana and Mike need to pay HER back out of their own money.

  8. thomas f sutherland says:

    As usual an amazing show. I have been in construction most my adult life. What you guys do in such a short period of time is a miracle…As to spending 10K? With labor and materials and other exspenses i would say no way..lol. To really help a business a week would be better. I also watch, Tabatha…tough,talented..another amazing person like Robert.

  9. thomas f sutherland says:

    As usual an amazing show. I have been in construction most my adult life. What you guys do in such a short period of time is a miracle…As to spending 10K? With labor and materials and other exspenses i would say no way..lol. To really help a business a week would be better. I also watch, Tabatha…tough,talented..another amazing person like Robert. Robert tone down on the muscle thing. Its a little much.

  10. Foodie says:

    They should sell the restaurant right now for whatever they can get out of it and pay off their debt. Unfortunately, Gray will receive only 50% of any remaining proceeds. Although, locals know it is in a terrible location and they may not get much for it, they could at least sell the equipment for enough to pay their past due bills.

    I ate at The Fork on Tuesday night before the show aired on Wednesday night. There were only 3 other occupied tables in the entire establishment. None of the staff that served me were on the show last night. They stated there had been a big turnover about 3 weeks prior. The server was terrible. She asked us 5 times if we were having a good day, and that was before we even got our drinks. Which told me she didn't pay attention to what we were saying. And sure enough, she and the kitchen got most things wrong. The entire staff bothered us way too much with their idle chit chat. I suppose they were bored because they had no customers. One hour after being seated we were served our room temperature, greasy, tasteless, fried mushrooms! Finally our meal arrived…..it was wrong! Some of the food was good, some was terrible. Robert's meatloaf was fabulous, but it was 5 tiny little meatballs, served with excellent mashed potatoes, tasteless cole slaw, and 2 weird little muffins that tasted and appeared as if they had been baked 2 days earlier. It was overpriced at $14. Most items were overpriced for this area, except for the $3 desserts which were proclaimed to be the best "homemade" desserts ever. We were told the strawberry cake was made from scratch and had pureed strawberries. Lie! It was from a boxed mix. I walked out of there shaking my head and expecting them to be closed within a month.

    • anony says:

      And they are.. sold out to a real chef, new staff and good looking menu.

    • anthony says:

      Robert did not have meatloaf on the menu when he redid it. They must have added it later.

      • Foodie says:

        The menu said the meatloaf was Robert's. If it was or wasn't it doesn't matter….it was GREAT!

      • Jenni says:

        I know on some episodes it was mentioned that they didn't do the full new menu at the reveal because it would be too much. It could be it was Robert's recipe, but wasn't in the reveal.

        • Anthony says:

          It was not an item on the menu that Robert added. I know this first hand because I was an employee at the time of filming. I left when I found out they weren't paying employees and the day after Robert left they wanted to go back to the old menu even going back to buying stuff from Piggly Wiggly. Rena Clark added the meatloaf later from the Food network site using one of Roberts recipes she found.

    • friend says:

      I ate with foodie and she has credentials to comment. She knows the food business. Me? I just love food, people and my community. I was not offended by the sweet local people. I felt they went out of their way to make us enjoy our experience and want us to come back. They explained they had new staff and were trying to make it work. My pot roast and potatoes were so good. Enjoyed the evening with friends and liked it being close to home. Hope they put back more local art and make a success of the beautifully decorated restaurant!

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