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.
Tag: Robert Irvine
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.”
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.”
At Dog & Pony Ale House in Renton, Wash., the issue wasn’t that the food was poor — Robert Irvine, in fact, was surprisingly pleased with it — but rather that owner Kristen Fisher was mismanaging her business. This too-nice owner had all but given herself and the control of her eatery over to a select group of customers who were adamant that she make changes to the equipment and menu at Dog & Pony, and ultimately her willingness to concede and her struggles with trusting her staff led her to become buried in debt. With the help of Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team, however, Kristen learned top tips for running her restaurant, and within only two days reopened the doors at Dog & Pony, a business worthy of a second chance at success.
“For December there has been a 45 percent increase in sales,” Kristen says of the finances at her business, adding that most diners’ reviews of the updates at Dog & Pony are largely “very positive.” She explains, “We are definitely listening to all the feedback and making changes that will make all our customers happy. We have brought back some of the things that the customers loved but are keeping the menu to one page, streamlined and running specials.”
It’s no secret that Robert Irvine has visited his share of far-gone restaurants in the nearly 10 seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, but on tonight’s new episode, he was quick to admit that Zoog’s Caveman Cookin may surely be among the worst he’s ever encountered. From the too-dark interior and the filthy kitchen that Robert was forced to shut down to owner Zoog’s lack of commitment to the business, Robert and his team faced two days of daunting challenges before they could reopen the Port Hadlock, Wash., restaurant to a packed house. Read on below to hear from Zoog and find out how he and his restaurant are faring today.
Business has increased nearly 20 percent since Robert left, Zoog explains, though he adds that his personal health went downhill. “I’m sorry to say that about four weeks after [the Restaurant: Impossible experience], I had a heart attack,” he says, before adding, “I am taking my medicine now and am feeling better.”
“I have no idea what ‘Mystic Treats’ means,” Robert Irvine told husband-and-wife owners Michael and Erika Lowe of the name of their Ashland, Ore., eatery. Though the couple has a shared background in the IT field, the two opened Mystic Treats three years ago and recently relocated it to a space with history as both Mexican and Korean eateries, which only furthered Mystic Treats’ oddball identity. After hearing feedback from the community, Robert managed to find his vision for the updated interior, and he tasked his Restaurant: Impossible design and construction teams to bring several themes to life, including “earthy,” “vibrant,” “quirky — a little bit” and “homey.”
No matter how dire the scene may be when Robert Irvine arrives at a business, he’s not one to back away from his mission. Over the course of nearly nine seasons, Robert’s surely been tested with fiery owners, filthy kitchens and family feuds, but through it all, he and his Restaurant: Impossible team have given even the seemingly farthest-gone eateries a second chance at success, all with only $10,000 and 48 hours to work. On tonight’s special episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert looked back at some of the most-unforgettable transformations, reliving the process it took to shift owners’ perspectives, as well as their kitchens’ cleanliness and dining rooms’ design, and ultimately revealing the impressive finished updates.
Intrigued after arriving at Shade Tree Customs & Cafe — a dual motorcycle-repair shop and restaurant — in Albuquerque, N.M., Robert Irvine told owners Ryan Green and Rich Rael, “We’re going to see a service so I can understand what you do, because I’m not sure what you do right now.” Though the food there wasn’t outlandishly poor, Robert wasn’t impressed, and designer Taniya Nayak admitted that the decor was “college dorm-ish.” Together Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team had just two days to overhaul the interior of Shade Tree, foster a connection between the restaurant and the shop downstairs, and improve the relationship among Ryan, Rich and their fellow owners and investors. Read on below to hear from the guys to find out how their business is faring today.
The guys are wowed by what they’ve deemed the “stunning” look of the “motorcycle chic” decor now at Shade Tree Cafe. They plan to put the signs and relics that one lined the restaurant’s walls into the bike shop, and they add that they hope to begin refreshing the current wall space with artwork from locals.
It’s no secret that Robert Irvine, Food Network’s own restaurant renovator and the host of the upcoming special Fitness: Impossible (airing Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 11|10c), has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to prioritizing his workouts. “I make the time, no excuses,” he recently told FN Dish of his exercise regime. But his determination in the gym doesn’t necessarily mean he goes fitness alone. “When Gail and I work out together, we will do the same circuit,” Robert says of his partnered fitness sessions with his wife, Gail Kim. “We motivate and push each other.”
For fans looking to take a similar better-together approach to working out with a partner or spouse, Robert says that when it comes to exercising in pairs, “it depends on your fitness goals,” but he offers his top-five ideas for ways to exercise as a twosome.