by Maria Russo in Events, February 24th, 2013
by Maria Russo in Shows, February 20th, 2013
What do you get when you gather tables full of amateur cooks and ask them to prepare their own dinners with no advance notice of the menu? If you answered chaos, scorched ingredients and plenty of laughs, then you are correct.
That’s precisely what happened last night at the Barilla Interactive Dinner during the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. 200 party-goers at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., turned into honorary chefs as they attempted to prepare multi-course meals for one another with little more than a saute pan and wooden spoon. Lucky for them, however, soon they received a wanted dose of culinary guidance in the form of Robert Irvine, who, together with Chef Lorenzo Boni of Barilla, guided guests through each step of the cooking process in the hopes of eliminating major flare-ups and meltdowns.
Chef Boni shared step-by-step tips for making an indulgent pasta with prosecco and caviar, while Robert — in true Restaurant: Impossible form — arrived just when guests needed him most: the tricky entree course. He balanced his no-nonsense commitment to top-quality food with lighthearted how-tos and willing patience to help each table tackle seared swordfish with apple-horseradish sauce and creamy parsnip potatoes.
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 23rd, 2013
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.
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 16th, 2013
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.
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 2nd, 2013
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.
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 19th, 2012
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.
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 9th, 2012
When Robert Irvine arrived at Rising Sun Bistro in Kalispell, Mont., he learned that this French food-focused eatery was nearly $500,000 in debt. On top of that, it was being run by three owners, Jennifer Griffith, Peggy Kirby and Sally Racine Truscheit, who couldn’t put their strained relationship aside to effectively run the business. In just two days and with only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team put new life into Rising Sun, adding fresh, authentic French offerings to their menu, revamping the interior design and working with Jennifer, Peggy and Sally to mend their partnership and begin to ease their debt. We checked in with Jennifer a few months after the renovation to find out how the restaurant is doing today.
Since the transformation, she tells us, sales at Rising Sun have increased nearly 27 percent and diners have been pleased with the updated French-inspired decor and communal table that Robert and his team created.
While Rising Sun is no longer serving breakfast, its dinner menu has stayed largely the same since Robert left. Jennifer says that they’ve added “a cod dish, pasta [and] boeuf bourguignon” to their list of offerings, but she notes that Robert’s “brie and caramel is a big seller.”
by Joseph Erdos in Shows, December 6th, 2012
On Holiday: Impossible, Robert Irvine shifted his focus away from restaurants and onto a deserving organization just in time for the holiday season. He traveled to Joplin, Mo., to transform a local Boys & Girls Club that has given so much to its storm-ravaged community after a deadly tornado struck the region in 2011. Unlike any renovation he’d done before, this was Robert’s largest and most difficult mission to date. Robert’s challenge in Joplin was twofold: give a second life to the expansive, multi-purpose space at the Boys & Girls Club facility and cater a special holiday party for a whopping 1,000 people.
In celebration of the season, Robert completed the mission with a bit of holiday cheer, thanks in large part to the generosity of his Restaurant: Impossible team, fellow chef friends and the Lexus Culinary Masters, who increased his time and spending limits from the usual two days and $10,000 to three days and $30,000. After just 72 hours, the Boys & Girls Club in Joplin reopened with secure entrance, bright, colorful walls, a fully equipped kitchen, increased storage and other functional elements that will help the club carry out their kids-first mission.
by Maria Russo in Shows, December 5th, 2012
In a special holiday episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine takes on one of his biggest missions to date. In the spirit of giving back, Robert travels to Joplin, Mo., to revitalize a Boys & Girls Club that served as a safe house after one of the deadliest tornadoes ever hit the town.
Robert’s challenge has two parts. First, he must transform the club into a space that’s inviting for kids and adults alike — all in only three days. Second, Robert must cook a thank-you dinner for 1,000 volunteers in just five hours — luckily he has help from Chef Michael Chiarello and the Dinner: Impossible crew. With a $30,000 budget, this mission will transform not only the club, but the lives of the people who were affected by the natural disaster.
Tune in: Sunday, December 9 at 10pm/9c
Click here to make a donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, then read how you can help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
by Maria Russo in Shows, November 28th, 2012
Facing the imminent closure of their 11-year-old restaurant, Bronk’s Bar and Grill, husband and wife owners, Erik and Tracy Brunkow, turned to Robert Irvine for help in saving their business. This Lake City, Minn., eatery had been serving dishes made mostly from frozen food in an out-of-date, unadorned space, but thanks to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team, it reopened with a fresh menu and vibrant decor to match. We checked in with Erik a few months after the transformation to see how Bronk’s is doing now.
Immediately after the renovation, sales at Bronk’s grew significantly, doubling during weekdays and tripling on weekends. Erik says that customers have come from near and far to see and taste the changes, and everyone is wowed by the updated decor. “They say it’s brighter, fresher and more open,” he explains. “People are noticing our tin ceiling all of a sudden, which was there originally.”
Bronk’s is still serving the updated menu exclusively, and Erik notes that they’re using only fresh, never-frozen ingredients. He adds that the specialty sauces that Robert created have been extremely well-received by diners. “People want us to bottle them and sell them at the store.”
At Rohrer’s Tavern in North Bend, Ohio, Robert Irvine found an outdated eatery with an unadorned dining space and basic-at-best food to match. Lisa Kendall is the owner of this decades-old restaurant, and she needed Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team to help Rohrer’s avoid a looming closure. We checked in with Lisa a few months after the transformation to see how her restaurant is doing now.
After the renovation, Rohrer’s saw year-over-year growth of $20,000 for the month of September. Lisa explains that while the restaurant used to attract only local customers, it is now “pulling people from other neighborhoods” as well.
“Everyone loves the new look and for the most part loves the menu,” she says. Rohrer’s is still serving most of the menu items that Robert created for them, and they’ve added a few of their previously popular dishes to their list of offerings.
Since Robert left, the kitchen staff has been held “accountable for everything,” Lisa explains. She now challenges them when they tell her that something cannot be done, and says she has “made it clear that I am not just the owner. I am the boss and manager.” She adds, “Criticism is still something that no one in the kitchen likes, but I do it as constructively as possible.”