by Maria Russo in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 4th, 2014
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 30th, 2014
The nature of Restaurant: Impossible is such that Robert Irvine doesn’t know what he’s going to walk into when he begins his missions at eateries across the country. This week marks the show’s 100th episode, and while he’s found filthy kitchens and ruthless employees at some business, he’s stumbled upon disjointed menus and disjointed decor at others. But no matter the condition of the business when he arrives, he and his team have always used their two days and $10,000 budget to give restaurants the best second chance at success possible.
Just in time for Wednesday’s special episode, airing May 7 at 10|9c, to celebrate the 100th show, Robert looked back on the nearly eight seasons of renovations and reflected on some of his most-memorable missions to date. Read on below to hear from Robert in an exclusive interview and find out what he’s learned along the way, as well as his top tips for business owners.
What’s been the single most-rewarding moment from 7+ seasons of Restaurant: Impossible?
It’s impossible to just choose one moment. The restaurants that we visit on the show are not just “missions,” they are like children to me. Each has its own challenges, personalities and outcomes. Each family will always be special and hold an important place in my heart — even the really difficult ones.
What’s one thing you have learned from or experienced on this show that you didn’t expect to when you first began it?
I began the show focused on fixing businesses but quickly realized that, more important than food cost and menu changes, the families and relationships involved need to be fixed first if anything we do is going to remain a success. That’s why you may have noticed the change in dynamic from the first season to now, where I evolved too, from business consultant to being more of a counselor.
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 23rd, 2014
This week, at Bumbinos Italian Ristorante, the problems with which Robert Irvine had to contend went beyond the usual bland decor and kitchen filth this week. The negative interpersonal relationships at this Orange City, Fla., eatery were causing so much screaming among employees and owner Terry Gardner that it was driving away customers. With just two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team addressed the staff’s issues and overhauled the interior and menu at Bumbinos to ultimately give the business a second chance at success. Read on below to get an exclusive update from Terry.
“The first two weeks after the show, we increased approximately 35 percent,” Terry said. She added that both she and the diners have been wowed by the updates in design. “They are loving the lights and the tile. Favorite elements would be the closing of the pizza area, the chandelier and the tile wall.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 22nd, 2014
“On a scale of one to 10 of disgusting, this is a 12,” Robert Irvine said not long after arriving at Bryant’s Seafood World in Hueytown, Ala. The decades-old fish house is known for its deliciously authentic hushpuppies, but what Robert found was underseasoned food, a grimy interior and a kitchen with off-the-chart levels of bacteria — not to mention Gail Cox, the owner who had little will to continue in the business. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible staff overhauled the menu and design at Bryant’s, and taught both Gail and her employees the importance of dedication to the eatery. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Gail to find out how her restaurant is doing today.
“Comparing January 2014 versus February 2014, business increased 32.3 percent,” Gail said, adding that she and diners have been wowed by the updated interior at Bryant’s. “The top-three things working well for us include cutting down the cashier counter to give additional access to that area (which really helps the flow of the servers), adding a hostess stand (which gives us order to the customers waiting to be seated on those weekend busy dinner hours) and removing the carpet.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 9th, 2014
Week after week, fans watch as Robert Irvine and his no-fail team of designers, construction managers and volunteers take over a struggling eatery on Restaurant: Impossible in the hopes of giving the business the second chance at success it deserves. But beyond demolition, recipe testing, painting and, of course, the reveal, what else goes on behind the scenes, and who’s there facilitating the transformation? It turns out that an entire crew is on hand to make Restaurant: Impossible what it is, and for the first time ever, the team will come together next month to celebrate the 100th episode of the show.
In the upcoming special Meet the Impossible, airing Wednesday, May 7 at 10|9c, Robert, Tom Bury and three designers will look back at some of the most-wow-worthy moments of the series and reflect on the most-unforgettable overhauls, as well as on some stubborn owners and dirty kitchens that have left their marks on the group. Hear from the team as they share their thoughts on the nearly eight seasons of the show, and see an insider interview with Marc Summers, the executive producer of Restaurant: Impossible.
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 9th, 2014
Part eatery and part entertainment space, Urban Roots in Oklahoma City, Okla., offered little in the way of quality food when Robert Irvine arrived. He found jumbled dishes and a weak staff, plus owner Chaya Fletcher, who was struggling to maintain her interest in her job. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team transformed the interior of Urban Roots and updated the menu, ultimately reopening the business to a packed house. Read on below to hear from Chaya and find out how Urban Roots is doing today.
“Since the taping, revenue is up 15 percent,” Chaya says. “Customers are really happy with the design and love the new menu changes.” She adds that both food and entertainment are now proving to attract customers.
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 2nd, 2014
With more than seven seasons’ worth of Restaurant: Impossible renovations behind him, Robert Irvine has seen all manner of filth in eatery kitchens, encountered interior decor ranging from the plain and simple to the cluttered and confused, and met owners who have welcomed him wholeheartedly and those who have fought to accept his expertise. He sticks to his goal of transforming businesses and improving lives no matter how difficult the mission, but surely some updates have proved more shocking, some owners more demanding and some reveals more emotional.
Browse insider photos to look back on some of the most-unforgettable challenges Robert has faced on Restaurant: Impossible, then hear from the owners of those eateries to find out how their businesses are faring today.
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 26th, 2014
In Houston, the dangerously dirty kitchen at gratifi kitchen + bar was just one of the major issues with which Robert Irvine was to contend during his latest Restaurant: Impossible mission. The eatery’s owner, Kevin Strickland, was notably arrogant and struggled to work well with his employees — and Robert. It took the Restaurant: Impossible team two days and $10,000 to overhaul gratifi kitchen + bar and transform Kevin’s brashness before they would ultimate relaunch the business. FN Dish has the first exclusive interview with Kevin since filming wrapped; read on below to hear from him and find out how gratifi is doing today.
“Most customers, whether new or old, think it is fantastic,” Kevin says of the interior overhaul on gratifi. He and his employees are pleased with the update as well, he says, adding of staff, “They see that it is a much nicer restaurant and they dress appropriately for it.” He adds, “The bar is 10 times better. It’s not only beautiful but now functions like a real bar.“
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 19th, 2014
Change — or a lack thereof — was at the foundation of Robert Irvine‘s mission at Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria in Baton Rouge, La., a Big Apple-style parlor specializing in family recipes. While Robert indeed identified several issues with the menu at Mama Della’s and noted that its interior decor was “very nondescript,” perhaps the most-critical problem plaguing the business was owner Barry Kalt, who Robert deemed “one of the most-cantankerous owners I have ever come across.” Given his long-standing beliefs in how true dishes and ingredients should be prepared and served, Barry was hesitant to make any meaningful updates to his business practices, which ultimately resulted in his son Andrew, a former cook at Mama Della’s, leaving the restaurant. It took a serious lesson from Robert for Barry to fully realize the error of his ways, and he soon committed to improvements in the future. After two days of renovations on a $10,000 budget, the Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Della’s, and FN Dish has the exclusive update from Barry on how his business is faring today.
“Mama Della’s saw a significant increase in customer traffic for the one-month period after the shoot,” Barry said. “Sales have increased by 30 percent over the same period in 2013.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 12th, 2014
Inferior food was just one of the problems Robert Irvine was forced to contend with when he arrived at Pasión Latin Fusion in Albuquerque, N.M. Owners Monica and Elvis Bencomo were faced with financial struggles and family conflict, and they needed Restaurant: Impossible to improve their issues if Pasión was to have any chance at future success. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert transformed the interior of the Latin-inspired eatery, overhauled the menu and eased strained personal relationships to ultimately relaunch the business. Read on below to hear from Monica in an exclusive interview and find out how Pasión is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible reopening.
Since Robert left, Monica says, “Sales are definitely up by about 40 percent compared to January 2013 and 30 percent from December 2013.” She adds that “according to our servers, about one in five customers are new.”
“There’s nothing that says, ‘Welcome to a barbecue place,’” Robert Irvine said after surveying Tootie’s Texas BBQ, but it turned out that what he deemed the “very, very bland” decor was just one of several problems plaguing owner Eileen Smith’s Cathedral City, Calif., restaurant. With unexceptional ‘cue coming out of the kitchen and mediocre management at the helm of the business, Tootie’s was losing nearly $3,000 every week, so Eileen looked to Robert to reinvigorate the eatery as well as herself, after she’d endured a string of personal losses and devastating struggles. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert indeed fulfilled his Restaurant: Impossible mission, reopening Tootie’s with an updated menu and a comfortable, lively interior. Read on below to hear from Eileen in an exclusive interview, and find out how she and her business are doing today.
“Our sales are up 30 percent,” Eileen says, adding, “I know I have a ways to go before I am making a profit, but the gap is closing. I am working my tail off to ensure success.”