by Maria Russo in Food Network Chef, Shows, October 13th, 2015
by Maria Russo in Shows, May 13th, 2015
For the past 11 seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine has given seemingly hopeless restaurateurs second chances at success, completing dream transformations, both within the four walls of the eateries and beyond, as he’s worked with owners to evolve their business savvy. On the brand-new season of Restaurant: Impossible Ambush, he’ll do all of that again — but this time, the owners don’t know he’s coming.
Premiering Thursday, Oct. 22 at 9|8c, Restaurant: Impossible Ambush will show what happens when Robert and his team drop by unannounced, all set to take over an unsuspecting owner’s business, and what results simply cannot be anticipated. From pure elation to downright dissatisfaction, the reactions to Robert’s impromptu renovations are as variable as the issues plaguing the failing eateries. If you thought that owners were shocked — and perhaps a bit annoyed — by Robert’s advice even when they requested it, imagine what might ensue when he shows up without an invitation.
Just in time for this month’s premiere, Robert gave FN Dish an insider’s look at what’s ahead on Ambush. Read on below for an exclusive interview with the host and find out what he wants to say to the stubborn owners he’s met along the way.
What can fans expect from the Ambush renovations? How are these episodes different than past Restaurant: Impossible shows?
Robert Irvine: Crazy! For 11 seasons [of] Restaurant: Impossible, the viewers knew that the guests, or the people I was going to help, knew I was coming. I was the only one that didn’t know where I was going. Season 12 Ambush, let me tell you, they have no idea I’m coming, and I have no idea where I’m going. And what happens when I walk in the door truly is up to them: how they react, how I speak to them, how they lose their cool. And do they want me there? That’s the big question. … I’ve got to tell you, it’s not like any other Restaurant: Impossible we have ever, ever done. It’s exciting. It is gripping. It’s chilling. It’s nail-biting. And you’ll never know what’s going to happen, ’cause every turn is something different.
by Maria Russo in Shows, May 6th, 2015
It was a perfect storm of sorts at The JuJu Bag in New Orleans when Robert Irvine first arrived at this part cafe, part barber salon: inferior food coming out of an ill-equipped kitchen, wall-to-wall oddball decor not fit for a restaurant, and an owner who was resistant to change. With limited time to work, it was up to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to not only convince owners Tommye Myrick and Phyllis Johnson that their business was in need of a serious overhaul, but also to transform a dining space and a working salon. Read on below to hear from Tommye, aka the Director of the business, to find out how The JuJu Bag is doing today.
“We have taken Robert’s suggestions,” Tommye says, adding that they’ve downsized their staff and changed their hours “to fit the needs of the community.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 29th, 2015
It’s no secret that Robert Irvine does the impossible every weekend when he rescues another struggling eatery from the brink of failure. But on tonight’s brand-new episode, he also did the unprecedented: For the first time in 11 seasons, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team ambushed a business owner who wasn’t expecting or prepared for their arrival — or the mission.
Within moments of Robert running through the doors of Tornatore’s Pizzeria, owner Denny Tornatore struggled to hold back tears, and while he was indeed surprised to learn what was about to go down at his Orlando, Fla., eatery over the next several days, he welcomed Robert and team, optimistic about what they could do to help him and his wife, Gina. While the ambush indeed provided shock-and-awe value, it also forced the Restaurant: Impossible crew to work within all-new time constraints, as they didn’t have the luxury of a prep day before filming; every minute counted as they hauled in equipment and set up materials. No matter the hectic schedule, Robert, in true Irvine fashion, successfully completed his mission, and with wow-worthy results. Read on below to hear from Denny and find out how Tornatore’s is doing today.
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 22nd, 2015
When Robert Irvine arrived at Gigi’s Music Cafe in Sunrise, Fla., he found a restaurant suffering from not just one culinary or staff issue, but a host of problems that had come to plague this three-year-old eatery. Owner Gigi Brown was struggling to recognize the dire situation her business was in, while her daughter Semone Brown-Mobley, who manages the restaurant, was forced to contend with the consequences of her mother’s decisions. They looked to Robert to streamline their financials and improve the scope of service, but perhaps most important was their need for an overhauled menu, as Gigi’s had relied heavily on the microwave. In true Irvine fashion, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team accepted this mission with gusto, working with Gigi and Semone both on land and at sea to give them the second chance they deserved. Read on below to hear from Semone to find out how Gigi’s is faring today.
“Sales have went up 40 percent in this last month,” Semone says, adding that in terms of her and her mother’s responsibilities at Gigi’s, “Me and my mother still have the same roles. She is helping more with the books and payroll. I still maintain the staff.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 8th, 2015
When Marybeth Sniadowski-Cole’s father passed away last year, Marybeth wasn’t sure in which direction to take Lyon’s Pharmacy of Elkton, which he’d purchased more than five decades ago. Part old-school luncheonette and part functioning pharmacy, this double-duty business needed direction if it was to have any hope of lasting success, and for that Marybeth looked to Robert Irvine. Together with his Restaurant: Impossible team and the community in which the pharmacy has been a longtime fixture, Robert gave Lyon’s the second chance it deserved. Read on below to hear from Marybeth to find out how her business is doing today.
Since Robert reopened Lyon’s Pharmacy, the luncheonette has seen a 15 percent increase in gross sales, according to Marybeth, who adds that “the cash register from downstairs, and the brick walls are by far the favorites” in terms of the updated decor.
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 1st, 2015
Just when fans — and Robert Irvine himself — thought they’d seen it all on Restaurant: Impossible, an unprecedented mission presented itself in Illinois: Not only was Robert tasked with overhauling a restaurant, but he also had to focus on the expansive grocery store that houses the eatery. Just outside of Chicago, Zest Bistro is a four-and-a-half-year-old business located within Lemon Tree Grocer, which was founded by best friends Shaun Black and Tim Canning. While the guys thought they’d have the chops to make their double-duty business work on account of their respective pasts as a produce broker and a chef, they soon began spending far more money than they earned and were forced to look to Jessica, Tim’s wife, to help Lemon Tree. Ultimately, however, when they realized that her support wasn’t enough, it was Robert who could give them one final opportunity. In true Irvine fashion, this monstrous challenge only served to inspire Robert more, and sure enough, he relaunched both Zest Bistro and Lemon Tree with wild success. Read on below to hear from Shaun, Tim and Jessica to find out how the businesses are doing today.
According to Shaun, “Sales in Zest are up approximately 30 percent from last year during the same time period,” and Tim adds that there are “45-minute waits at times.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 25th, 2015
While some restaurant owners welcome Robert Irvine with open arms and recognize their need for his expertise, others are perhaps too set in their ways to realize the gravity of the state of their restaurant. That’s what happened on tonight’s all-new episode of Restaurant: Impossible when a mission took Robert to Cocoamoda in Calvert, Texas. A French bistro boasting both an event space and a chocolate boutique, Cocoamoda is owned by Ken Wilkinson, but it was Ken’s daughter, Courtney, who first reached out to Robert and asked if he — Brit to Brit — could convince her father to update his approach. Now, a few months after reopening a newly renovated Cocoamoda, Ken is speaking out about Robert’s changes to the restaurant and how his business is faring today.
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 18th, 2015
Though Robert Irvine can’t anticipate the exact state a restaurant will be in when he arrives for a Restaurant: Impossible mission, there are a couple of things he’s come to expect at every overhaul: one failing restaurant and one last chance to save it from the brink of closure. His latest mission, in Summerville, S.C., caught him by surprise, though: Upon meeting Robert, Frankie Valentino asked him to transform not just one of his family’s Italian-focused eateries, but both of them. The Valentino family owns both Valentino’s and Italian Bistro, and both businesses were in dire need of support if they were to have any hope of a future. Sure enough, in true Irvine fashion, Robert completed this double-duty mission with roaring success. Read on below to hear from Frankie and find out how both restaurants are faring today.
According to Frankie, business at “Valentino’s is currently up by 30 percent and the Bistro by 20 percent.” He adds that “the new design is working great” and “it looks brighter [and] modern.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, February 18th, 2015
It’s not every day on Restaurant: Impossible that Robert Irvine visits a 4,000-square-foot restaurant — let alone one that used to enjoy profits of more than $1 million. On tonight’s all-new Season 11 premiere, Robert and his team traveled to Bowling Green, Ky., to take on their most-massive mission to date at WhaBah Steakhouse, a part-restaurant, part-music venue that, despite its early success, was facing serious losses. With limited time to work, Robert and the Restaurant: Impossible crew had to not only re-inspire Donnie “Perky” Perruquet but also transform his enormous establishment. Read on below to hear from Perky’s daughter, Nicole Schwarzkopf, and find out how WhaBah Steakhouse is faring today.
Although WhaBah Steakhouse was packed immediately after filming, business has since slowed, though Schwarzkopf notes of the updated decor, “We love, love, love the clean, fresh new look, and the bar and tables.”
It’s brother versus brother at Bene Pizza and Pasta, a 13-year-old business in Omaha, Neb., run by Jon and Bobby Lanphier and their mother, Ginger Lanphier. It was up to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team not only to overhaul the interior of the eatery and improve upon the dreary arcade, but also to mend the siblings’ relationship, which had weakened over the years as a result of increasing financial strain on the company. Read on below to hear from Ginger and find out how she and her sons are doing at Bene Pizza and Pasta a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible transformation.
Comparing this December to last December, “business was up 20 percent,” Ginger reveals. “The arcade does well when we are busy. We have talked to customers and are convinced that it brings customers in because it differentiates us from other pizza restaurants.”