When it comes to transforming America’s failing restaurants on Restaurant: Impossible and giving them a second chance at future success, fans know that Robert Irvine is all business, dedicated to teaching owners how to turn their eateries into profitable productions. And each week on Restaurant Express, you see him challenging restaurant hopefuls to survive the ultimate seven-week culinary road trip. But just recently, Robert invited fans to get to know him beyond television and divulged insider details about seemingly all aspects of his life. In an #AskIrvine Twitter chat, Robert revealed his favorite meal, deserted island must-have, packing preferences when traveling, secret to achieving bulging biceps and more. Read on below to get caught up on the highlights and learn 10 little-known facts about this longtime chef and professional restaurateur.
1. Even though he’s in tiptop shape, Robert admits, “I believe every meal should end with something sweet.”
2. When asked what single food he would bring with him on a deserted island, he answered: “Water. You can’t live without it.”
3. “I love Stella and Heineken,” Robert admits of his favorite beers.
4. For more than 10 years, Robert was a member of the British Navy.
5. Robert has been cooking since he was 11 years old.
“This might be a lost cause,” Robert Irvine said while working with the Calos family at their seven-year-old restaurant, The Windsor 75. Owners Therese and George and their two sons needed Robert’s help to not only update what he deemed “blah” decor and improve their menu but also ease the tensions and end the bickering between them. With just two days to work and a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team accomplished their mission to relaunch The Windsor 75 and set up the Caloses with the tools they need for future success. FN Dish checked in with Therese a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery is doing today.
Since The Windsor 75 reopened, Therese says, business has increased nearly 10 percent, and they tweaked their hours and offerings, now closing on Monday and serving breakfast only on the weekends. To her, perhaps the most-impressive aspect of the transformation is the updated design. “It is open, airy, and filled with life and hope for the future,” Therese tells FN Dish. “Truly words cannot express how we feel about the decor. Our hearts are bursting! There are too many wonderful elements.”
When Robert Irvine visits a business on Restaurant: Impossible, he has but one goal: Fix the failure. Despite his no-nonsense attitude and often harsh critiques of eateries’ menus and decor, he wants to see the restaurants thrive, and with the help of his team, he will use his years of experience and expertise to give each establishment a second chance at success. While owners accept Robert’s matter-of-fact assessments of their business, no matter how bleak and seemingly unforgiving they may be, others are quick to question his authority and proficiency, believing their ways of running a restaurant to be effective.
These persistent — if, perhaps, naïve — owners stand by their business practices, plus the quality of their food and menu offerings, and they see no fault in their management styles, often despite looming financial disaster or unhappy employees. While Robert’s almost always able to convince these dogged owners of their mistakes and give them opportunities to improve, the most tenacious among them will fight with Robert until the very end to attempt to support their theories.
You’ve seen every episode of Restaurant: Impossible and have even ventured to try for yourself some of the overhauled eateries featured on the show. You’re eagerly tuning in to the latest premieres of Robert’s all-new show, Restaurant Express, and you’ve already cast your Fan Vote for the contestant you think should win the final prize. But when it comes to the host of these game-changing series, how much do you know about Robert Irvine? This British-born chef and restaurateur has been cooking since he was a boy, and he is perhaps as famous for his signature muscled physique as he is his no-nonsense attitude and fearless approach to any mission on television. Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of all things Chef Robert, and find out if you’re the ultimate fan.
Are You the Ultimate Robert Irvine Fan?
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Robert has deemed what classic comfort food his all-time favorite food?
Spaghetti and meatballs
Cheeseburger and french fries
Roast chicken and mashed potatoes
Chocolate cake and ice cream
On which of the following shows has Robert not appeared?
The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs
In 2012 Robert married Gail Kim, a professional wrestler. Which of the below Food Network stars was Robert's best man at his wedding?
Robert and Gail vacationed in which country on their honeymoon?
Which common construction tool is Robert famous for wielding on Restaurant: Impossible?
How many days a year does Robert spend traveling away from home?
On Restaurant: Impossible, Robert and his construction and design teams have how much money to spend on renovations?
Robert typically wears jeans and what color shirts while filming his shows, Restaurant: Impossible and Restaurant Express?
Black or white
Gray or red
Blue or black
Black or gray
How old was Robert when he became a member of the British Royal Navy?
Which famous public figure did Robert welcome to an episode of Holiday: Impossible?
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Facing nearly $230,000 of debt, 33-year-old Ducky’s Family Restaurant in Kokomo, Ind., desperately needed Robert Irvine‘s help if the business was to have any chance at future success. Not long after Robert arrived, he realized that poor-quality canned food was among the largest issues plaguing Ducky’s, as was its drab interior decor akin, which Robert’s designer, Taniya Nayak, deemed “a cafeteria nightmare.” Together with Taniya and the rest of his Restaurant: Impossibleteam, Robert re-launched Ducky’s after two days of work on a $10,000 budget, and he helped owner Bill Duncan and Bill’s family learn essential skills for managing their family-run eatery. FN Dish caught up with Bill to find out how his business is doing a few months since the show filmed.
“Since the shooting of our episode, we have doubled our weekly sales,” Bill said. “Everyone loves the remodel.”
“My job here is intense, to say the least,” Robert Irvine said not long after arriving at Mama Campisi’s Restaurant in St. Louis. This nine-year-old Italian eatery was once profitable, making nearly $1 million in revenue, but after employee theft resulted in more than $70,000 in losses, the business faded, and now husband-and-wife owners Lance and Andrea Ervin face nearly $600,000 worth of debt. But beyond their financial struggles, Andrea was overwhelmed by her situation, so Robert’s mission was twofold: Give Mama Campisi’s the tools it needs to succeed again, and help Andrea and her family regain their trust in their restaurant. After just two days and with only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Campisi’s with an inspired menu, a transformed interior and the skills needed to ensure future profits. FN Dish checked in with Andrea and Lance to find how the business is doing today.
“Business seems to have picked up,” Andrea said. “We were able get a couple [people] paid in full, however, due to the repairs that had to be done, we have been at a standstill right now.”
No matter their reasons for emotional collapses — financial stress, relationship conflicts, personal pressures, employee anxiety — countless restaurant owners and staff members featured on Restaurant: Impossible have experienced meltdowns on the show. They’ve ranged from minor disagreements and temper tantrum-like behavior to full-blown screaming, door slamming and people ultimately walking out during filming. Robert Irvine and his team of designers and contractors have been there to witness each disastrous falling apart, and together with the help of staff members’ friends and family, they’re almost always able to remedy the situation. But before peace is restored on set, cameras capture each calamitous moment.
Click the play button the video above to watch a video mash-up of the five most unforgettable meltdowns ever featured on the series. Then tune in to the Season 7 premiere of Restaurant: Impossible tonight at 10pm/9cto see the owner of Mama Campisi’s Restaurant struggle to contain her emotions on set. Watch more top-five video mashups from Restaurant: Impossible, including emotional reveals, dirtiest restaurants and stubborn owners.
Facing nearly a quarter of a million dollars in debt, Tony Aponte looked to Robert Irvine and the Restaurant: Impossible team to give his Mason, Ohio, business, Aponte’s Pizzeria, a second chance at success. Tony had been working in pizzerias since he was 11 years old and purchased Aponte’s just eight years ago. But during that time, he hadn’t made a single change to the menu. “I grew up on it, and I stick by it,” Tony said of his food. Ultimately, it was this menu that Robert deemed to be the root of Aponte’s downfall. “There’s just no taste to anything,” Robert said simply, noting that the dingy decor and difficult-to-navigate entrance didn’t improve the overall dining experience. With only two days and a $10,000 budget, Robert got to work on breaking down the self-described “bull-headed” Tony and transforming Aponte’s into a thriving pizzeria once again. FN Dish caught up with Tony a few months after his business reopened to find out how it’s doing today.
After a rocky start, Tony is adjusting to the changes at Aponte’s. Robert’s improvements have boosted the restaurant’s bottom line, with a 60 percent increase in sales at the end of June.
Faced with a mountain of debt, Dorothy and Thom Williams, husband-and-wife owners of Benner Street restaurant in Bethlehem, Pa., were unsure if they would see their retirement if the dire situation at their business didn’t improve. They looked to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to give their eatery the second chance it deserves, and when Robert arrived, he soon realized the root of Benner Street’s problems: its bickering owners, to start, plus its drab interior and poorly stocked bar. With just two days to work and a budget of $10,000, Robert helped Dorothy and Thom learn how to effectively manage a staff while he overhauled the restaurant’s design and revamped its menu. FN Dish checked in with Dorothy a few months after Benner Street’s reopening to find out how her business is doing today.
“Business is up 40 percent,” Dorothy says. “All the employees and family are excited about our new beginning and all are working toward our success.”
When Robert Irvine arrived at Edibles Restaurant & Pub in Horsham, Pa., it didn’t take long for him to realize the “misguided family” that owned the business was as much of a contributing factor to its failure as was the eatery’s filthy interior, “blah” decor and unappealing food. Husband and wife John Sr. and Butzy Hurley have been at the helm of their business for nearly 30 years, but despite their presence in the kitchen and at the front of the house, their staff, including their children, John Jr., Heather and Jennifer, and their nephew Steve, noted a significant lack of leadership. This, coupled with John Sr.’s strained relationship with his son, had contributed to Edibles’ $4,000-per-month losses, which Robert had only two days and $10,000 to attempt to rectify.
For the first time in six seasons of filming Restaurant: Impossible, Robert believed the best and most important means of improving a restaurant would be to change the business’ name and rebrand it with a descriptive, engaging and enticing identity, which is how Edibles became Hurley’s American Grille on opening day. Read on below to hear from John Sr., Heather and Steve, and find out how Hurley’s is doing a few months after its relaunch.
“The first couple weeks were great,” Steve explains of the time immediately after filming. “I feel like we’re busier, but our bills are higher because of the expenses of new staff.”