by Maria Russo in Shows, August 20th, 2014
by Maria Russo in Shows, August 13th, 2014
The situation at Country Cow Restaurant and Bar wasn’t what it seemed when Robert Irvine first arrived there. Co-owner Jenny Leonzi admitted that the calm demeanor shown by her business partner — and former husband — Kerry Benton wasn’t usual; yelling and swearing were more commonplace, and because of that, Robert was forced to investigate never-before-seen footage of Kerry’s behavior at the eatery. In the nearly nine seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, this is the first time that Robert has revealed the behind-the-scenes clips his producers collect ahead of his visit, and after watching those tapes, Robert saw the restaurant’s reality.
Before Robert could finish the two days of renovations at Country Cow, Kerry made the decision to leave the 12-year-old Campton, N.H., eatery once and for all, signing over all aspects of the business to Jenny. Read on below to hear from Jenny and learn how her restaurant is doing several months after its transformation.
Since Robert left, “sales were up $22,000 compared to June 2013,” says Jenny, who adds that “guests are loving the new decor.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, August 6th, 2014
At Pomona Golf and Country Club in Egg Harbor City, N.J., Robert Irvine had to contend not only with a 45-year-old joint golf course and clubhouse but also family friction amongst the owners, sisters Andy Truitt and Pam Grenda, and their cousin, Bruce Ritchie. The trio was facing losses after having failed to attract a fresher audience, and it was up to Robert to reimagine the establishment’s futures. Read on below to hear from Andy and find out how Pomona Golf and Country Club is doing today, a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible transformation.
“Business is slowly picking up,” says Andy. “We’ve had three dinners averaging 25 people.” She adds that they “using the patio” and customers have taken well to the golf carts.
by Maria Russo in Shows, July 30th, 2014
As time passes and new restaurant trends join the market, it’s often not enough for long-established eateries to continue doing business the same way year after year and decade after decade. Paul Awramko, the owner of Paul’s Bar & Bowling, learned this lesson the hard way when the 85-year-old establishment found profits rapidly declining in the last eight years. “Nothing has really changed” of the dark, old-fashioned interior at Paul’s, says Ed Arzoomanian, an investor in the business. The joint bar and bowling alley in Paterson, N.J., was in dire need of an update, and the menu called for a complete overhaul, both of which Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team successfully managed to complete in only two days and with a $10,000 budget. Read on below to hear from Paul to find out how his business is doing today.
“For the first three weeks, business was up 20 percent,” says Paul. He adds, “It looks so much brighter, more comfortable, intriguing, cleaner, more current [and] totally, totally not old school anymore.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, July 23rd, 2014
“This is tasteless,” Robert Irvine said of the tableful of dishes he sampled at Marie’s at Ummat Cafe in Atlanta. It turns out that the restaurant’s bland food was just one in a series of problems he and his Restaurant: Impossible team discovered on their latest mission. The uninspired decor was appalling to Robert and guests alike, and the staff struggled to work well with owner Jaliwa Owuo. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert overhauled the menu at Marie’s and reopened the eatery with a design that would be welcoming for all. Read on below to hear from Jaliwa and find out how her restaurant is doing today.
“We have seen a 30 to 40 percent increase in revenue” since filming ended, Jaliwa explains, noting that “the tipping has increased by 90 percent.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, June 11th, 2014
Even from Robert Irvine‘s first steps inside The Fork Diner in Calhoun, Ga., it was clear that this mission was going to be like none other. Although Robert usually meets with owners before trying an eatery’s food, this time he sat down and immediately ordered from the menu, only talking to partners Gray Bridges and Michael and Diana Forster afterward. Michael revealed that The Fork Diner was losing nearly $12,000 every month, and soon Robert posed an important question to Gray, who’s been the lead funder of the restaurant: Would she continue working at the restaurant or walk away and turn over the business to the husband-and-wife team of Michael and Diana? Gray ultimately revealed that she’d be leaving once filming ended, explaining, “There’s things more important than money and more important than my passion for that restaurant.” Nevertheless, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team continued with their overhaul of The Fork’s disappointing menu and lackluster decor, and they reopened the restaurant to a packed house. Read on below to hear from Diana a few weeks after her business relaunched to learn about Gray’s involvement since taping and how the restaurant is faring today.
“Gray has finally decided to leave and turn things over to us after months of seesawing,” Diana notes. There have been a few other changes in staff, she notes, including a few servers who are no longer working at The Fork. “I did not know how bad they were till they were gone and I got customer feedback. When I was around they were pretty good.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, June 4th, 2014
After running Portu-Greek Cafe in Hudson, Fla., for eight years, husband-and-wife owners Jordan and Anne Lindiakos were losing at least $4,000 every month, so they looked to Robert Irvine for help in a last-ditch effort to save their combination Portuguese and Greek eatery. While what Robert deemed the restaurant’s “very plain” decor and the largely microwaved menu were surely in need of an overhaul, the business’ management style was largely to blame for its failure. “We don’t make long-term decisions,” Jordan admitted, speaking of himself, his wife and his children, who work at Portu-Greek Cafe. It was up to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team to not only transform the cuisine and decor at the restaurant, but also to improve Jordan’s leadership ability and help the family work better together. Read on below to hear from Anne and Jordan, and find out how their business is faring today.
“At this time, we have at least doubled sales,” Anne says, noting that Portu-Greek is “very busy.” Jordan admits, “The decor is beyond everyone’s wildest dreams, including ours.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, May 28th, 2014
“We just got ourselves in way over our heads,” Grace Tutak said of her and her husband, Eddie, both owners of Grace’s Place Bagels and Deli. The financial ambiguity of the restaurant and the significant debt they’re facing had put a strain on their marriage, and they were in dire need of Robert Irvine‘s help. “Ed and Grace are both responsible for the failure of the restaurant,” Robert admitted, and together with his Restaurant: Impossible team, he overhauled Grace’s Place and attempted to repair Grace and Eddie’s relationship in order to give their business a second chance at success. Read on below to hear from Grace and find out how her eatery is doing today.
Sales at Grace’s Place have remained steady since the show, and Grace says that “the customers love the new decor.”
Customers were sorry to see some of their beloved dishes had been taken off the menu, so the list of offerings now features some of its original items, plus plates that Robert created. Still being featured are the French Dip, Muffalatta Sub, Fresh-Cut Fries, Cinnamon Bun Sundae and the Minestrone Chicken Matzo Ball Soup, according to Grace.
by Maria Russo in Shows, May 21st, 2014
Before Robert Irvine got to work on the failing Big Jim’s Bama Q in Hammondville, Ala., he talked with Big Jim himself, who, while no longer the owner of the restaurant, was able to tell Robert stories of a once-successful venture at the barbecue-focused eatery, ultimately proving that the business could be profitable. The new owner of Big Jim’s, Daniel Millican, had failed to make the business his own, leaving nearly all of the original leader’s menu, decor and practices in place. With time, Daniel had become disconnected from the restaurant after spending much of his time away at his other business, a sawmill, and Robert questioned whether Daniel wanted to be involved going forward. It took Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team two days and $10,000 to inspire Daniel, overhaul the mismatched design, establish new processes for tuning out authentic barbecue and, in perhaps the most-dramatic update, change the name of the business to simply Bama Q. Read on below to hear from Daniel and his sister-in-law, Carolyn, the former assistant manager of the restaurant, in an exclusive interview and find out how his business is faring today.
Bama Q is earning almost $1,000 more per week than before its Impossible transformation, and Carolyn notes: “Everyone loves the inside of the restaurant. A lot of people are responding to the floors, the tables, the chicken wire. … It feels much more open and welcoming.”
by Maria Russo in Food Network Chef, Shows, May 4th, 2014
Just when fans likely thought that Robert Irvine had seen it all after nearly eight seasons of Restaurant: Impossible, this week he opened the doors to a themed restaurant for the first time. Cave Inn BBQ, located in Winter Garden, Fla., offered a prehistoric ambiance, complete with pictures of dinosaurs and fake rocks in the dining room and a menu of hearty, meaty plates. While Robert was taken aback by Cave Inn’s display, he couldn’t convince owner Buzz Klavans to abandon his business’ theme, and ultimately Robert and the Restaurant: Impossible crew continued the theme during the transformation. After just two days and with a $10,000 budget, the Stone Age-inspired restaurant reopened, reinvigorated with a second chance at success. Read on below to hear from Buzz to find out how this business is doing today.
“Revenue has risen about 10 to 18 percent,” Buzz says. “I’m doing my best to follow all of Robert’s advice — some things are easier said than done, especially regarding [the] back of house — but we’re trying.”
The nature of Restaurant: Impossible is such that Robert Irvine doesn’t know what he’s going to walk into when he begins his missions at eateries across the country. This week marks the show’s 100th episode, and while he’s found filthy kitchens and ruthless employees at some business, he’s stumbled upon disjointed menus and disjointed decor at others. But no matter the condition of the business when he arrives, he and his team have always used their two days and $10,000 budget to give restaurants the best second chance at success possible.
Just in time for Wednesday’s special episode, airing May 7 at 10|9c, to celebrate the 100th show, Robert looked back on the nearly eight seasons of renovations and reflected on some of his most-memorable missions to date. Read on below to hear from Robert in an exclusive interview and find out what he’s learned along the way, as well as his top tips for business owners.
What’s been the single most-rewarding moment from 7+ seasons of Restaurant: Impossible?
It’s impossible to just choose one moment. The restaurants that we visit on the show are not just “missions,” they are like children to me. Each has its own challenges, personalities and outcomes. Each family will always be special and hold an important place in my heart — even the really difficult ones.
What’s one thing you have learned from or experienced on this show that you didn’t expect to when you first began it?
I began the show focused on fixing businesses but quickly realized that, more important than food cost and menu changes, the families and relationships involved need to be fixed first if anything we do is going to remain a success. That’s why you may have noticed the change in dynamic from the first season to now, where I evolved too, from business consultant to being more of a counselor.