by Maria Russo in Shows, April 9th, 2014
by Maria Russo in Shows, April 2nd, 2014
With more than seven seasons’ worth of Restaurant: Impossible renovations behind him, Robert Irvine has seen all manner of filth in eatery kitchens, encountered interior decor ranging from the plain and simple to the cluttered and confused, and met owners who have welcomed him wholeheartedly and those who have fought to accept his expertise. He sticks to his goal of transforming businesses and improving lives no matter how difficult the mission, but surely some updates have proved more shocking, some owners more demanding and some reveals more emotional.
Browse insider photos to look back on some of the most-unforgettable challenges Robert has faced on Restaurant: Impossible, then hear from the owners of those eateries to find out how their businesses are faring today.
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 26th, 2014
In Houston, the dangerously dirty kitchen at gratifi kitchen + bar was just one of the major issues with which Robert Irvine was to contend during his latest Restaurant: Impossible mission. The eatery’s owner, Kevin Strickland, was notably arrogant and struggled to work well with his employees — and Robert. It took the Restaurant: Impossible team two days and $10,000 to overhaul gratifi kitchen + bar and transform Kevin’s brashness before they would ultimate relaunch the business. FN Dish has the first exclusive interview with Kevin since filming wrapped; read on below to hear from him and find out how gratifi is doing today.
“Most customers, whether new or old, think it is fantastic,” Kevin says of the interior overhaul on gratifi. He and his employees are pleased with the update as well, he says, adding of staff, “They see that it is a much nicer restaurant and they dress appropriately for it.” He adds, “The bar is 10 times better. It’s not only beautiful but now functions like a real bar.“
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 19th, 2014
Change — or a lack thereof — was at the foundation of Robert Irvine‘s mission at Mama Della’s N.Y. City Pizzeria in Baton Rouge, La., a Big Apple-style parlor specializing in family recipes. While Robert indeed identified several issues with the menu at Mama Della’s and noted that its interior decor was “very nondescript,” perhaps the most-critical problem plaguing the business was owner Barry Kalt, who Robert deemed “one of the most-cantankerous owners I have ever come across.” Given his long-standing beliefs in how true dishes and ingredients should be prepared and served, Barry was hesitant to make any meaningful updates to his business practices, which ultimately resulted in his son Andrew, a former cook at Mama Della’s, leaving the restaurant. It took a serious lesson from Robert for Barry to fully realize the error of his ways, and he soon committed to improvements in the future. After two days of renovations on a $10,000 budget, the Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Della’s, and FN Dish has the exclusive update from Barry on how his business is faring today.
“Mama Della’s saw a significant increase in customer traffic for the one-month period after the shoot,” Barry said. “Sales have increased by 30 percent over the same period in 2013.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 12th, 2014
Inferior food was just one of the problems Robert Irvine was forced to contend with when he arrived at Pasión Latin Fusion in Albuquerque, N.M. Owners Monica and Elvis Bencomo were faced with financial struggles and family conflict, and they needed Restaurant: Impossible to improve their issues if Pasión was to have any chance at future success. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert transformed the interior of the Latin-inspired eatery, overhauled the menu and eased strained personal relationships to ultimately relaunch the business. Read on below to hear from Monica in an exclusive interview and find out how Pasión is doing a few months after its Restaurant: Impossible reopening.
Since Robert left, Monica says, “Sales are definitely up by about 40 percent compared to January 2013 and 30 percent from December 2013.” She adds that “according to our servers, about one in five customers are new.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, March 5th, 2014
“There’s nothing that says, ‘Welcome to a barbecue place,'” Robert Irvine said after surveying Tootie’s Texas BBQ, but it turned out that what he deemed the “very, very bland” decor was just one of several problems plaguing owner Eileen Smith’s Cathedral City, Calif., restaurant. With unexceptional ‘cue coming out of the kitchen and mediocre management at the helm of the business, Tootie’s was losing nearly $3,000 every week, so Eileen looked to Robert to reinvigorate the eatery as well as herself, after she’d endured a string of personal losses and devastating struggles. With only two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, Robert indeed fulfilled his Restaurant: Impossible mission, reopening Tootie’s with an updated menu and a comfortable, lively interior. Read on below to hear from Eileen in an exclusive interview, and find out how she and her business are doing today.
“Our sales are up 30 percent,” Eileen says, adding, “I know I have a ways to go before I am making a profit, but the gap is closing. I am working my tail off to ensure success.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, February 5th, 2014
While the name Mill Creek BBQ Restaurant would suggest an eatery proficient in preparing succulent, Southern-style ‘cue, the reality at this Redlands, Calif., spot was that owners Lisette and Steve Brown were dishing up bland food in a poorly run environment, according to Robert Irvine. In the first mission of Restaurant: Impossible, Season 8, the fearless and determined host worked on revamping Mill Creek’s menu in the hopes of offering more full-flavored favorites. He and his team had only two days and a limited budget to execute their plans, plus give Steve the tools to successfully run the restaurant and dissolve the strain on the Browns’ blended family. Read on below to hear from Steve a few months after Mill Creek’s Impossible transformation, and learn how his business and family are doing today.
“When we compared last year’s numbers to January 2014, we had a sales increase of exactly 28 percent,” Steve explains. He says that the update in design at his restaurant “is like night and day” and that he’s pleased with the changes that Robert and his team made. “We went from a totally Western style quick-service restaurant to a more modern, slightly upscale quick-service restaurant.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 29th, 2014
When Robert Irvine arrived at Estrada’s Restaurant in Daly City, Calif., it wasn’t enough for his Restaurant: Impossible team that the owners, Bernadette Aggen and Julio Mercedes, were facing more than $400,000 of debt; they seemed downright disinterested in their 96-year-old restaurant, which they purchased nearly six years ago. After surveying the interior of Estrada’s, however, and tasting its food, Robert learned that the Mexican eatery’s problems went beyond its management. With just two days and $10,000 to work, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team successfully overhauled the menu and updated the design at Estrada’s, all while reinvigorating Bernadette and Julio. Read on below to hear from the owners in their first exclusive interview since the transformation, and find out how their restaurant is doing today.
Sales at Estrada’s have increased nearly 30 percent, according to Bernadette and Julio, who add that their business is now profitable and that they’ve begun to decrease their debt.
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 15th, 2014
When Robert Irvine arrived in Murphys, Calif., to rescue Hillbillies Restaurant, he was forced to contend with not only a dingy dining space overrun with tchotchkes, but with struggling owner Jami Saul as well. Unconfident and unable to assert herself to her staff, she would often be talked down to by her employees, so it was up to Robert to teach her how to voice her opinion and stand up for herself. He and his Restaurant: Impossible team had just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, but in true Irvine fashion, he delivered, reopening Hillbillies to a crowded house of eager customers. Read on below for the first exclusive interview with Jami to find out how her business is doing today.
“I do love the simplicity and clean feeling the new design brings to the restaurant,” Jami says of the transformed Hillbillies. “My favorite is the front entrance and the back wall of pallets. I think Lynn nailed the design for me.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, January 1st, 2014
From a filthy interior to seemingly indifferent management, the problems at Spunky Monkey Bar and Grill in Auburn, Wash., were many, and it was up to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to decipher and ultimately fix them one by one if the business was to have any chance at future success. Over the course of two days and with a budget of only $10,000, Robert overhauled the interior of the eatery, redesigned the menu and worked with owner Donel Brinkman to implement positive changes that ultimately allowed her to reopen Spunky Monkey to a packed crowd. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Donel and find out how her business is faring a few months later.
“Customers are thrilled with the design (as are we),” Donel says of the diners’ reactions to Spunky Monkey’s transformation, “and we are receiving great commentary on the transition.”
While the inferior food and uninspired decor were in desperate need of Robert Irvine‘s attention when he arrived at Heather’s Country Kitchen in Plains, Mont., owner Heather Worrall’s lack of leadership was of far more concern to Robert, given how little Heather seemed to know about running her business. With just two days to work and a budget of just $10,000, it was up to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team to overhaul all aspects of Heather’s Country Kitchen and to give Heather the tools she needed to manage her business alongside her family so they could ultimately reopen Heather’s as a welcoming business with a confident leader at the helm. Read on below to hear from Heather and find out how her restaurant is doing today.
“Business was really steady” immediately after filming, according to Heather, who says that the updated design “makes you smile when you walk in the door.” She adds, “People just love the new flooring. Everyone wants to know where it was purchased so they can put it in their homes.”