Restaurant Revisited: Take It or Leave It at El Bistro

by in Shows, September 3rd, 2014

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleWhat was supposed to be a welcome challenge quickly turned into a nightmare when Renae Bowens, the owner of El Bistro restaurant in Titusville, Pa., found herself facing significant financial losses. With nowhere left to turn, the single mother looked to Robert Irvine to reinvigorate her eatery, but it was ultimately up to him to reignite Renae’s hunger for the business as well. After two days of renovations on a $10,000 budget, Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened El Bistro as Renae’s Corner to a packed house. Read on below to hear from Renae and find out how her restaurant is doing today.

“After the team left, our profit went up about 50 percent,” Renae explains. ” I have been at the restaurant much more, and I have implemented many of the changes suggested to me.”

Renae admits that the updated design at Renae’s Corner has been successful, as “everyone loves it, staff and customers.” She adds, “The community has been very receptive, coming to try the food and bringing friends and family.”

As for sanitation at Renae’s Corner, Renae notes that “the kitchen staff is doing a wonderful job keeping up, and the kitchen is being cleaned every day.” They’ve even begun keeping “a cleaning log” to ensure future maintenance.

“I have maintained my boss status instead of friend status,” says Renae, who adds that she’s “not tolerating people being late or taking too many breaks.” As for her kids, Renae says that they “are proud to be at the restaurant.”

Looking back on her Restaurant: Impossible experience, Renae notes, “I would do it over again any day. I feel like the show gave me a confidence that I was lacking, and I will be forever grateful.”

More from Restaurant Revisited:

Uncle Andy’s Diner (August 27)
Country Cow Restaurant and Bar (August 20)
Pomona Golf and Country Club (August 13)
Paul’s Bar & Bowling (August 6)
Marie’s at Ummat Cafe (July 30)
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)

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Comments (154)

  1. Rachel says:

    This restaurant is now for sale.

  2. Rachel says:

    This restaurant is now for sale.

  3. Rose says:

    I can see why. Renae really was not into being the "Boss" at all, it all was just show so Robert would feel sorry for her n her kids. I feel for the kids cause they lose out on alot if only she would of had it opened 24 hrs. It would of been the only 24 hour restaurant in Titusville.

    • Rose says:

      plenty of truck drivers and old folks would of loved it being opened 24 hrs a day. Plus give more people jobs and more income comming in .

  4. @ib2bzy4u says:

    Is it just me, or did anyone else think she did not deserve the help?

    • Margaret says:

      She clearly was exploiting the show to get a free remodel and get on TV. She claims in a post BEFORE Restaurant Impossible on her restaurant's "El Bistro" Facebook page that she'd already turned the business around and everything was great. Now she's selling the restaurant. She never actually said why she was in the restaurant business instead of some other trade, and I'd bet Robert Irvine's $30,000 figure that if she manages to sell the remodeled business despite the massive grease splodges all over the kitchen and its walls in the realtor's photos, she won't buy another restaurant — not unless she thinks she can be an absentee owner again.

      Why on earth was she paying everyone (perhaps with the exception of herself) minimum wage? A skilled head cook even at a dive breakfast joint ought to make more than that.

      How on earth did she get accepted into Penn State's MBA program immediately after her undergrad degree, as her LinkedIn page claims? Accredited MBA programs usually require prior work experience, and it looks like her first job was as "President" (it's a bit silly to call oneself "president" of a business with a dozen or fewer employees who are all minimum-wage) and owner of El Bistro.

      How did a poverty-stricken single mother manage to get the money and/or credit to buy the business in the first place — or to put herself through the Penn State MBA? I suspect the vaguely described "savings" that she had wasn't from her own labor. Rich and indulgent parents, perhaps?

      I just hope her next career move isn't into acting, as her kids would definitely starve (unless, that is, whatever gave her enough money to BUY a business before she'd had any serious work experience in any field). She clearly had a hard time keeping a straight face on Restaurant Impossible as she talked about how "no way" would she give up on the restaurant for any amount of money.

      I think in the end Robert Irvine and crew were right to follow through for the sake of her four children in hopes that she'd actually start working. Being a mother of four involves tons of work at home, of course. God help her kids, though. This woman doesn't seem to understand that owning a business — especially your first business — means you work MORE hours and put MORE sweat into it than everybody else. You don't hire a bunch of people at minimum wage and expect them to make you rich.

    • Patti says:

      I wish he would've walk away from her!!! Something was definitely wrong with her character. It was so obvious she was giggling behind that insincere face. She lacks passion for the industry but forget that (!!!) she lacks respect to the public to even think of inviting someone in that rancid, filthy…nasty place. She's a pig!!!

  5. Russ says:

    She needs to sell on a positive note! had it in her mind the whole time. And she should she cant even manage her own life- let alone a restaurant. One of the nicest remodels- should make it easier to sell! WHere are the State restaurant inspectors- I have been doing it for years and that would never had gotten by???!!!

    • Virginia Reeves says:

      I always wonder where the local food inspectors are. Why haven't these filthy restaurants been inspected???? These filthy restaurants make a Micky of the public faith that local govts should be inspecting!

  6. Dwight says:

    Pam from the office??

  7. Kathy says:

    Renae's corner as FILTHY. I would never eat there no matter what was done to fix it. How could they ever serve food out of that pig sty. I would never trust those people. Just disgusting! Lucky they didn't kill someone. Made me sick watching the show.

    • ronda says:

      i agree i never been there and after seein this show i would never ever go in there no matter how clean or what not i seen pigs eat in better pens then what this place was just nasty :(
      where is the borad of health and why is it not check every year or 6 months just gross sad they had a man come and help her and for what to make a fool out of him now she trying to sale this place really made this town look bad hope the new owners if they ever get new one does alot better then what it was and what it is today

      • rose says:

        You wouldnt want to go in there because there is a huge gas leak in the kitchen, im surprised it hasnt blown someone up by now. they need to get the oven fixed so it no longer leaks gas into the building.
        And I do agree , where the heck are the state health inspectors?? This place shoulda been shut down way before Robert Irvine got there just for the fact there is a gas leak in the kitchen an unsanitaryness.

    • Debbie says:

      Totally agree with you

  8. big guy says:

    yes it is for sale and hardly ever open.

    • Drake Well says:

      I agree, the hours are horrible. It is pot luck to find it open. Though, not surprised it didn't last ttoo long, that has been like what, 4 or 5 different restaurants since the early 2000s? I am also embarrassed that she used Robert Irvine like that. I mean, there was talk of her selling the restaurant a day or two after the "grand re-opening". I believe she was waiting for some sort of contract to run out.

    • faye says:

      Does this really surprise any body???

    • Jepchamp says:

      She sure wouldn't have gotten anything for the place the way it was. Now Robert gave her a clean, nice restaurant that will get a nice price. RI should ask for their $10K back.

  9. geo1113 says:

    Have scientists yet located the gene that makes people say "hey…I have never been in the restaurant business…I think I'll buy one"????????????

  10. Erin says:

    They want the free fix up so they can turn a easy profit….there really should be a clause in the contract of the show stating they cannot sell it within two years of it being refurbished or the 10,000 will have to be paid back

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