“It’s our biggest mission ever: two locations, three days, $50,000,” Robert Irvine said of what he was about to take on in Ship Bottom, Long Island Beach, N.J. Just one year ago, that community was devastated — along with so many others along the Eastern Seaboard — when Hurricane Sandy smashed on shore with powerful winds and rain, plus multiple-feet-high storm surges. In the spirit of the season and true to Robert’s selflessness, the Restaurant: Impossible host teamed up with Lexus for Holiday: Impossible 2 to give two Ship Bottom businesses that were nearly decimated by the storm a second chance to thrive. With the help of Lexus’ generous donation of extra time and an increased budget, plus the commitment of his design and construction teams from Restaurant: Impossible, Robert transformed LBI Pancake House and Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Company, both once waterlogged from the storm and in dire need of updates if they were to have any chance at lasting futures.
While it’s rare for Robert to undertake a project of this magnitude, it’s no surprise that he didn’t let the feat stop him from completing it on time and with the very best results. After just a few days of work, he reopened LBI Pancake House for owners Bill and Carole Waldron as a vibrant, welcoming eatery worthy of the neighborhood, and he introduced a revitalized kitchen and lounge area at Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Company President Dan English and Fire Chief Wade Bradley, as well as the company’s 30 members. Read on below to hear from Carole and Dan, find out how their locations are doing today and see behind-the-scenes photos.
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Each business Robert Irvine visits on Restaurant: Impossible is worthy of his time and resources in the hopes of giving it a second chance at lasting profitability. But every once in a while he’s met with a mission that’s of particular importance — a challenge with especially high stakes and a meaningful cause on the line.
These special missions require not only Robert’s signature focus and commitment to success, but often additional support and an expanded team as well. While this often comes in the form of an increased budget and more time to work, it also includes the contribution of countless volunteers, including celebrity chefs and local neighbors alike. In the past on these special episodes, Robert’s received his list of tasks from none other than the First Lady of the United States, and he’s welcomed back his Dinner: Impossible crew, plus friend Chef Michael Chiarello, to help him complete the tests on time.
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It didn’t take long for Robert Irvine to realize he was facing two missions at Mike La Susa’s Italian Restaurant in Oak Creek, Wis. Not only was he to overhaul the decor and reinvent the menu, but he also had to contend with the family, owners Patrick and Mary, plus their son, Mike. This trio was barely able to communicate with each other when Robert arrived, and it was up to him to attempt to see to the root of their problems while working with his Restaurant: Impossible team to transform the failing eatery into a welcoming, comfortable space. With a budget of only $10,000 and just two days to institute changes, Robert ultimately reopened Mike La Susa’s to a crowd of customers. Read on below for an exclusive update on how the restaurant is doing today.
Mike is enjoying the updated menu, although business has struggled a bit since the transformation, as the changes in the list of offerings have been difficult for longtime customers to accept. He’s still the main cook, and he is planning to eventually add some of the original dishes back to the menu.
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Much of the work Robert Irvine
does on Restaurant: Impossible
focuses on showing business owners and their employees where they’ve made mistakes in the past and how they can best fix them going forward. To teach those lessons, however, so that the staff will learn once and for all how to avoid similar struggles in the future, Robert is forced to be brutally honest in his assessment of the restaurant’s design, its food and the management skills of its leaders. It’s ultimately for the betterment of the business that Robert shares his tough love in the form of constructive criticism and unhindered remarks about what he’s seeing and tasting at the restaurant.
In the more than six seasons Restaurant: Impossible has aired, Robert’s gone to great lengths in words and actions to prove his point to businesses owners and their staff, holding no bars in his assessment of the good, bad and just plain awful scenes he finds in kitchens and dining rooms. Click the play button on the video above to watch the top-five tough love moments, then tune in to an all-new episode Wednesday at 10pm/9c to watch Robert tackle his latest restaurant mission.
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When Robert Irvine arrived at Seven restaurant in La Porte, Ind., he found that the restaurant was suffering from the trifecta of issues: poor food, drab decor and weak management. Owners Tonya and Chad, who are engaged, named the business after their blended family of seven children, including Tonya’s son Jake, who’s a cook at the eatery. It was up to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team to use their $10,000 budget and two-day timeline to overhaul both the menu and interior design at Seven, and work with the family to give the business the second chance at success it deserves. FN Dish checked in with Tonya a few weeks after the restaurant reopened to find out how it’s faring since Robert left.
“The first week we tripled our sales and have nearly doubled our sales every week since the show,” Tonya explains. “While everything is amazing, our favorite part of the renovation is the sevens in the foyer and the lights above the hostess station that all seven kids got to paint.”
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No matter how efficient and accommodating its owners may be, if an eatery’s kitchen and front of the house staff members aren’t all committed to their jobs, their negative attitudes could ultimately put the business at risk of failure. After all, it’s the waiters who most often interact with diners and the kitchen employees who prepare their food, so much of what guests experience is the result of these workers. That’s why when Robert Irvine
and his Restaurant: Impossible
team visit struggling establishments,
they need each and every staff member — not just the owners or core management — to accept the transformation and be willing to make changes toward improvement. For some, these revisions are easy to assume, but others don’t agree with Robert’s recommendations as readily, and what results is often temper tantrums, pointed fingers and, in some cases, downright mayhem.
In the more than six seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, the show has seen employees quit unexpectedly, get fired on the spot and storm out of the eatery, all while being filmed. Click the play button on the video above to relive the top-five worst staff moments ever recorded, then tune in to an all-new episode of Restaurant: Impossible tomorrow, Wednesday, at 10pm/9c to watch Robert tackle his latest mission.
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Overrun with filth in the front of house and back, Georgia Boy Cafe in Hagerstown, Md., was in desperate need of rescuing when Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team arrived. Perhaps more than the restaurant, however, the relationship between the owners, partners Chuck Holman and Montez Dorsey, was on the brink of ruin, as their lack of communication and stress about the business were tearing them apart — and ultimately having a damaging effect on their eatery. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert relaunched Georgia Boy Cafe with a contemporary interior design and overhauled menu to match. FN Dish caught up with Chuck and Montez a few weeks after Robert left to find out how their business is doing today.
“The business is doing much better than before the show,” Chuck and Montez tell FN Dish. “We are … being more creative on ways to get customers in the door, and not only having new customers but repeat customers.”
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While some businesses on Restaurant: Impossible
struggle with problems that are in full view of the customers, like a feuding wait staff or dingy carpeting and chipped paint in the dining room, others’ issues are trapped behind closed doors in the kitchen. It’s only when Robert Irvine
and his Restaurant: Impossible team arrive and shine a light on the back of the house that the horrible truths of some eateries’ kitchens are revealed.
Over the years on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert has discovered a range of uncleanliness in restaurant kitchens — some simply untidy and many in need of a solid scrubbing. But then there are those that are infested with insects, have surfaces caked in several years’ worth of grease and are outfitted with refrigerators full of spoiling food. The cleaning of these establishments often requires not only time and money from Robert’s budget, but also a serious lesson from the host himself on how to maintain proper food standards in the restaurant.
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“The place is clean, a little dark but nothing [like] what I’m used to. So I’m confused why I’m here,” Robert Irvine told Bill and Gail Darling, the owners of Coach Lamp Restaurant & Pub in Louisville, Ky. In addition to a tidy space, Robert also found good-tasting food, but it turns out that is where many of the business’ problems laid. The high-priced offerings on the menu — coupled with the too-formal ambiance that comes with white linen tablecloths — weren’t attracting locals, despite their tendency to visit a neighborhood restaurant nearby. Thanks to Robert’s tough-love approach, as well as his Restaurant: Impossible team’s work in transforming the outdoor patio into a welcoming space, however, Coach Lamp relaunched as an inviting, comfortable restaurant. Read on below to hear from Bill and find out how his eatery is doing a few weeks after Robert left.
Since Coach Lamp has reopened, business has jumped nearly 30 percent, according to Bill. “The liquor, beer [and] wine sales are 40 percent of the food sales …. The money is in the bar goods,” he says. “We are seeing more locals visiting.”
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When Robert Irvine
visits a business on Restaurant: Impossible
, he’s not merely knocking down walls, cleaning kitchens and revamping menus; he’s giving restaurant owners as well as their management and employees the tools they need to improve their business practices and ultimately providing them with the opportunity to guarantee future success. For some owners, Robert’s visit is a last-ditch effort to rescue their restaurants from certain failure. The idea that he has the power to improve all aspects of their business in just two quick days fully comes to life when they first lay eyes on their new restaurants, and it soon becomes too much for them to bear, forcing them to break down and become emotional at the reveal.
While nearly all of the owners are pleased with the refreshed look of their new establishment, many are brought to tears by it — not just because of the changes in decor but because of the positive and necessary opportunities these updates will bring as well. Click the play button on the video above to relive the top-five most emotional reveals ever featured on Restaurant: Impossible, then tune in tonight at 10pm/9c to watch an all-new episode.
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