Joe and Dena White, owners of Joe Willy’s Seafood House in Fishkill, N.Y., looked to Robert Irvine to save not only their restaurant but their family too, as the stress of their declining business had put a load of frustration and tension between them. It was up to Robert to hone in on the most-critical issues plaguing Joe Willy’s and work with his Restaurant: Impossible team to attempt to fix them in only two days and with just $10,000. He quickly learned that many of the restaurant’s problems stemmed from its poor-quality food, made by Joe, the head chef, so he focused his efforts on implementing an improved menu that Joe could execute with ease. After 48 hours of renovations, Joe Willy’s reopened to a dining room full of guests with Joe and Dena at the helm, now working harmoniously. We checked in with Dena a few months after the transformation to find out how Joe Willy’s is doing.
Since its Restaurant: Impossible experience, the restaurant has enjoyed a significant boost in business, Dena says, explaining that “sales have tripled to quadrupled at times.” Since they’re now making a profit, Dena notes that it’s “much easier to pay bills, rent and staff, and make improvements,” and says that they’ve begun to catch up on their debt.
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At Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering in Pineville, N.C., problems started almost as soon as they opened for business. After just six months in operation, owners Dana and David Cohen were facing losses of nearly $8,000-$10,000 per month at their Southern-style restaurant, and if drastic changes weren’t made, they’d be forced to shut down in a matter of weeks. Lucky for them, those much-needed updates were made, thanks to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team.
Even before arriving at Sweet Tea’s, Robert knew one crucial reason the restaurant was struggling: its extreme out-of-the-way location and absence of street-side advertising. It was his mission to brand the eatery as a comfortable, welcoming restaurant with Southern food to match, and to accomplish that, Robert would have to remake the menu of what he deemed to be D-rated food. With just two days to work and a $10,000 budget, he reopened the doors of Sweet Tea’s and gave the restaurant — and the Cohen family — a second chance at success. We checked in with Dana a few months after the renovation to find out how the business is doing.
Since Robert left, Dana and David have noticed an increase in revenue at Sweet Tea’s, and they are now “trying so hard to catch up” on bills, Dana tells us. “We need to catch up on rent, and that is the only thing holding us back.”
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Soup to Nuts Diner in Tavares, Fla., was in such poor condition when Robert Irvine arrived that he promptly deemed the restaurant “dangerously dirty” and refused to let anyone eat the food coming out of the kitchen. Littered with bugs and coated in dust, this 1950s-style eatery featured a cluttered dining room with tattered seating, but unfortunately for owner Sharon Whitmore, even more serious problems were in the kitchen. There, Robert found tools and equipment caked with grease, raw meat being kept at unsafe temperatures and a complete lack of management among the cooks.
For the last four years, Soup to Nuts has struggled with decreasing business, and Sharon admits that prior to Robert’s visit she was losing nearly $1,000 per month, which resulted in the foreclosure of her home. With a $10,000 budget and only two days to work, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reworked all aspects of her restaurant, deep cleaning every surface in the front and back of the house, demonstrating the how-tos of making a fresh menu and restructuring Sharon’s schedule so that she’d be able to abandon her 100-hour workweeks. At the end of what Robert called “one of the most-ambitious projects we’ve ever tackled,” Soup to Nuts reopened to hundreds of customers with in-control management at the helm. We checked in with Sharon a few months after the renovation to find out how her business is doing.
She tells us that in the weeks immediately following filming, Soup to Nuts was “overwhelmed with” a 40 percent increase in business, and now the restaurant is “up consistently about 20 percent over last year.”
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Although mother-daughter duo Diane Emery and Robin Gordon had no previous experience in the restaurant industry, together they purchased Caseyville Cafe in Caseyville, Ill., more than three years ago. At one point their eatery was making enough money to simply break even with its costs, but it soon turned into a failing venture, with more than $6,000 being lost every month. Just months away from shutting down their business entirely, the ladies looked to Robert Irvine for a complete Restaurant: Impossible overhaul. It soon became clear to Robert that this “dirty, dysfunctional” space was in need of not simply an aesthetic transformation, but also vast changes to its menu and management. In two days and with only $10,000, he worked with Diane and Robin to revamp all aspects of Caseyville Cafe, which ultimately reopened with crowd-pleasing food and a roomful of satisfied customers. We checked in with Robin a few months after Robert left to find out how her business is doing today.
Since its Restaurant: Impossible debut, Caseyville Cafe has had an increase in business. Although they’re still working to manage supply costs, Robin and Diane are slowly minimizing their debt.
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After their mother passed away five years ago, brothers Geoff, John and Tim Maniaci have struggled with dwindling business at their family’s 18-year-old restaurant, Maniaci’s Italian Bistro, in Mohnton, Pa. Before its Restaurant: Impossible overhaul, the eatery was losing more than $2,000 per month, and for those whose livelihoods depend on profits, the damages were almost too much to bear. Robert Irvine and his team worked with the brothers to revamp the interior of Maniaci’s and rework its menu, as well as to fix the tattered management in the hopes of giving the business a second chance at success. After only two days of renovations, Maniaci’s opened its doors again, this time to a packed dining room and with a menu focused on quality food. We checked in with Geoff, John and Tim a few months after Maniaci’s transformation to find out how the eatery is doing today.
Since Robert left, business at Maniaci’s has indeed increased, and, according to Geoff, the restaurant saw “almost $15,000 in dining room sales for the month of December.” Bar sales are up, as well, nearly $6,000 for the same month.
In terms of management, Geoff is now wholly in charge of the restaurant, and he says that “employees like that we are more structured.”
Not long after Robert Irvine arrived at Dinner Bell Restaurant in Madison, Tenn., it was clear to him that this mission would be unlike any he had done in the past. “This has got to be the most desperate restaurant I’ve ever been to,” he reflected after meeting owner Tommy Kirkpatrick. Before its Restaurant: Impossible experience, Dinner Bell was just two days away from closing its doors, so it was up to Robert and his team to rescue the eatery from the brink of financial ruin. Despite initial tension between Robert and Tommy, who was frustrated with the acknowledgment of his failures, Dinner Bell ultimately reopened to a full house after a much-needed deep clean, a revamping of the menu and an interior overhaul. We checked in with Tommy a few months after the renovation to find out how his business is doing today.
Dinner Bell remains “very clean,” according to Tommy, who, since the renovation, has held his employees accountable to excellence in both the front and back of the house. “Kitchen staff are expected to taste the food before each shift to ensure quality and expected to keep the kitchen in clean, working order,” he tells us. The servers “definitely look more professional than they did before the show, and Tommy is “ensuring [they] are consistently wiping the tables and table bases down, and guests are greeted with personality and friendliness.”
In one of his most dramatic missions to date, Robert Irvine arrived in Kilgore, Texas, to help Nancy Dupre, then owner of Nanny Goat’s Cafe & Feed Bin, transform her failing restaurant. But on day one of renovations she stormed out, vowing to end her Restaurant: Impossible experience before it even started. She became frustrated and simply overwhelmed when it was revealed that her daughter, Jessica, then cook at Nanny Goat’s, was the root of her business’s problems. Despite Nancy’s refusal, her mother, Sissy, and Jessica agreed that Robert and his team should continue their project, and the next day, a calmer, more composed Nancy returned to the site more committed to this mission than ever.
Although Robert and his team helped launch Nanny Goat’s into a new season of success with a crowd-pleasing menu and clean yet comfortable decor, Nancy decided to sell the restaurant for a profit, and has since entered retirement. Jessica no longer works at Nanny Goat’s Cafe, but much of the eatery’s other staff remains.
We checked in with Sharon Henley and Glenda Reid, the new owners of Nanny Goat’s, who took control of the restaurant in the new year, and they’re proud to say that their restaurant is “full of customers every day.” They’re pleased with its fresh, welcoming look and admit that they “work together like a well-oiled machine” with their employees.
In addition to his expected mission of renovating the interior and designing a crowd-pleasing menu at Sapori D’Italia in Fountain Hills, Ariz., Robert Irvine faced the challenge of mending a broken family. Together with their sons David and Jonathan, owners Gasper and Maria Manno used to spend much of their time at the restaurant arguing, something that was downright disruptive to customers trying to enjoy a meal. After working with the family to discuss their issues with the restaurant and each other and spending $10,000 on renovations, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened the doors to Sapori in only two days. Today, the restaurant is a comfortable eatery with a made-over menu of full-flavored Italian classics to match. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Gasper to find out how Sapori is doing today.
Immediately following filming, Sapori’s revenue shot up nearly $8,000 per week for the first three weeks. Things have settled down a bit since then, with the weekly increase averaging a respectable “$2,000 more than the same time last year,” according to Gasper.
For Windseeker Restaurant in The Dalles, Ore., the problems went beyond a tired dining room and lackluster food. They had been battling negative press for years, and owner Veta Bingman and general manager Patty Taylor faced a constant struggle to attract customers to their out-of-the-way location, despite the breathtaking river views that surround them. In just two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team transformed the eatery into a sophisticated space complete with a high-quality menu that would improve Windseeker’s local reputation. We checked in with Patty a few months after Robert left to find out how the restaurant is doing today.
Comparing year-over-year numbers, Patty says that “Business is up by $30,000″ following the renovation, and she adds that the cost of food and wages has increased as well. Since their Restaurant: Impossible experience, the staff has not borrowed money from the restaurant.
At Whiskey Creek Steakhouse in Keyport, Wash., Robert Irvine found not just poor food and a dark, drab interior, but also untrustworthy staff members. After just two days, Robert had established systems that would help the owners, Pat and Karan Ziarnik, regain control of their restaurant and slowly pay off debt, and the eatery reopened as a welcoming, sophisticated steakhouse with crowd-pleasing food. We checked in with Pat and Karan a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible renovation to find out how the restaurant is doing today.
Pat and Karan tell us that October was a “very busy” month at Whiskey Creek Steakhouse. Since Robert left, they’ve begun to pay back some of their debt, and their overall financial situation is now “better than before.”
Thanks to the new, effective systems in place, Pat and Karan perform “a lot more double checks” to deter costly staff actions. Recently two staff members were let go, “mostly because they were caught doing other wrongs,” they tell us.