by Maria Russo in Events, October 19th, 2013
by Maria Russo in Shows, September 26th, 2013
Guests could smell the sweet, smoky scent of barbecue well before they could see it as they made their way into the depths of New York City’s Hudson Hotel on Friday night. More than 15 chefs and restaurateurs from the Big Apple and beyond gathered on day two of the 2013 New York City Wine & Food Festival, all to celebrate Thrillist’s Barbecue & The Blues, hosted by Food Network’s own restaurant reviver, Robert Irvine.
Robert led his fellow masters of meat with an offering that was anything but common to true ‘cue enthusiasts. He presented BBQ Cannelloni (pictured right): rolled sheets of pasta that were filled with ricotta cheese and a combination of beef cheek, brisket and oxtail, then topped with tomato chutney and finished with barbecue powder. “That’s sexy food,” Robert told FN Dish at the event, the fourth of its kind since the festival’s inception six years ago. “Everybody else is doing brisket …. We took that and took it in a different direction.”
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by Maria Russo in Shows, August 25th, 2013
Robert Irvine may be known for rescuing America’s most dire eateries from the brink of failure on Restaurant: Impossible, but this fall he’s on a new mission: to find the most promising budding entrepreneur among a crop of restaurant hopefuls.
On his all-new series, Restaurant Express, Robert will challenge nine finalists to survive a culinary road trip across the West by proving not only their fearless culinary chops, but their business-savvy mindset, as well, if they want to keep their seat on the Restaurant Express bus. Week after week, it’s up to the contestants to demonstrate their staying power and impress Robert — a notoriously no-nonsense chef and experienced entrepreneur — by excelling in the host’s demanding challenges, both in the kitchen and out.
At the end of the journey, only one contestant will still be on the bus, and that person will have earned the title of executive chef and a leadership position on the team at the flagship restaurant The M Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas.
by Maria Russo in Shows, July 28th, 2013
Facing nearly a quarter of a million dollars in debt, Tony Aponte looked to Robert Irvine and the Restaurant: Impossible team to give his Mason, Ohio, business, Aponte’s Pizzeria, a second chance at success. Tony had been working in pizzerias since he was 11 years old and purchased Aponte’s just eight years ago. But during that time, he hadn’t made a single change to the menu. “I grew up on it, and I stick by it,” Tony said of his food. Ultimately, it was this menu that Robert deemed to be the root of Aponte’s downfall. “There’s just no taste to anything,” Robert said simply, noting that the dingy decor and difficult-to-navigate entrance didn’t improve the overall dining experience. With only two days and a $10,000 budget, Robert got to work on breaking down the self-described “bull-headed” Tony and transforming Aponte’s into a thriving pizzeria once again. FN Dish caught up with Tony a few months after his business reopened to find out how it’s doing today.
After a rocky start, Tony is adjusting to the changes at Aponte’s. Robert’s improvements have boosted the restaurant’s bottom line, with a 60 percent increase in sales at the end of June.
by Maria Russo in Shows, July 21st, 2013
Faced with a mountain of debt, Dorothy and Thom Williams, husband-and-wife owners of Benner Street restaurant in Bethlehem, Pa., were unsure if they would see their retirement if the dire situation at their business didn’t improve. They looked to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to give their eatery the second chance it deserves, and when Robert arrived, he soon realized the root of Benner Street’s problems: its bickering owners, to start, plus its drab interior and poorly stocked bar. With just two days to work and a budget of $10,000, Robert helped Dorothy and Thom learn how to effectively manage a staff while he overhauled the restaurant’s design and revamped its menu. FN Dish checked in with Dorothy a few months after Benner Street’s reopening to find out how her business is doing today.
“Business is up 40 percent,” Dorothy says. “All the employees and family are excited about our new beginning and all are working toward our success.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, July 14th, 2013
When Robert Irvine arrived at Edibles Restaurant & Pub in Horsham, Pa., it didn’t take long for him to realize the “misguided family” that owned the business was as much of a contributing factor to its failure as was the eatery’s filthy interior, “blah” decor and unappealing food. Husband and wife John Sr. and Butzy Hurley have been at the helm of their business for nearly 30 years, but despite their presence in the kitchen and at the front of the house, their staff, including their children, John Jr., Heather and Jennifer, and their nephew Steve, noted a significant lack of leadership. This, coupled with John Sr.’s strained relationship with his son, had contributed to Edibles’ $4,000-per-month losses, which Robert had only two days and $10,000 to attempt to rectify.
For the first time in six seasons of filming Restaurant: Impossible, Robert believed the best and most important means of improving a restaurant would be to change the business’ name and rebrand it with a descriptive, engaging and enticing identity, which is how Edibles became Hurley’s American Grille on opening day. Read on below to hear from John Sr., Heather and Steve, and find out how Hurley’s is doing a few months after its relaunch.
“The first couple weeks were great,” Steve explains of the time immediately after filming. “I feel like we’re busier, but our bills are higher because of the expenses of new staff.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, June 23rd, 2013
Not long after arriving at Kalico Kitchen in Douglas, Mich., Robert Irvine realized that the negative tension and long-standing animosity between owner Catherine Wilt and her employees was as much of a problem at the restaurant as its dusty dining room and greasy kitchen. This over-30-year-old eatery was once making nearly $1 million in sales, but it recently acquired a $400,000 debt, something that Catherine learned when she returned after a four-year leave of absence. Over the course of two days and with a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team attempted to mend the strained relationships at Kalico Kitchen; plus, they gave the space a much-needed deep cleaning, design overhaul and updated menu with fresh, quality ingredients. FN Dish checked in with Kalico Kitchen, and a server, Laura — on Catherine’s behalf — shared how the restaurant is doing today.
“Business went from $200-$300 per day to $2,000-$3,000 per day,” Laura explained. Not long after reopening, Catherine “had made enough money to pay the mortgages to keep her from foreclosure.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, June 16th, 2013
In Woodstock, Ill., two cousins — Angelo Paloumbis and Angelo Mourelatos — have come together to run Angelo’s, their Greek-style restaurant founded by their fathers. Although this family business is now decades old, not much has changed since it opened 40 years ago; the unexciting menu, standard diner decor and family tension remain, and all are contributing to the business’ failure. Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team had just two days and a $10,000 budget to offer Angelo and Angelo a new outlook on their professional relationship, plus give their eatery an updated design and the tools to create fresh, flavorful food. FN Dish checked in with Angelo Paloumbis a few months after the transformation of Angelo’s to find out how the business is doing today. “Business is up 20 percent and is holding steady,” Angelo tells us, adding that the restaurant is now making at least a 10-percent profit. “We’re paying down debt with it,” he explains.
In terms of the decor, Angelo’s has taken advantage of the open floor plan Robert’s team created, even hosting large private parties in the redesigned space. Angelo adds that “the younger crowd loves” the updated style, and many of the servers have adapted well to their new station. The menu at Angelo’s is a mix of items from the original menu and the offerings Robert created. “We kept some things (sandwiches, salads, half the entrees, the appetizers) [and] added some of our prior entrees that people were requesting,” Angelo says. “The fried chicken, the roast turkey, the new hamburgers, the Greek lamb burger” are some of the most popular dishes. Many guests have been wowed with the fare at Angelo’s, and they’re especially pleased that they can pay with credit cards for the first time.
More From Restaurant Revisited:
Pier West Restaurant (June 16)
Pinehurst Country Lodge (June 9)
Bryan’s Smokehouse (May 26)
Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant (May 19)
Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant (May 12)
Smitty’s Restaurant (April 28)
Old World Italian Restaurant (April 21)
Joe Willy’s Seafood House (April 14)
Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering (March 24)
Soup to Nuts Diner (March 17)
Caseyville Cafe (March 13)
Maniaci’s Italian Restaurant (March 10)
Dinner Bell Restaurant (February 27)
Nanny Goat’s Cafe & Feed Bin (February 20)
Sapori D’Italia (January 23)
Windseeker Restaurant (January 16)
Whiskey Creek Steakhouse (January 2)
by Maria Russo in Shows, June 9th, 2013
Despite the picturesque view from its waterfront location, Pier West Restaurant in Twin Lakes, Wis., couldn’t escape serious issues indoors, among them considerable debt and drab decor. With just $10,000 and two days to work, Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team relaunched owner Chip Walmsley’s business with a new menu and an updated design, plus gave Chip the support he needed to manage the restaurant and the foundation to mend his relationship with his family. FN Dish checked in with Chip a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery is doing today.
“Business has been great since the filming [of the show]. We have definitely seen about a 25-percent increase in food sales,” Chip tells us. “We are taking things one week at a time … [and] following the standards Robert set up for us.”
Chip says “not one single customer misses the old look” of Pier West, and in terms of the new space’s features, his favorites are “the lighting and the floor.”
by Maria Russo in Shows, June 1st, 2013
Roger Murray, the owner of Pinehurst Country Lodge in Greeley, Pa., had no experience in either working at or owning a restaurant before he purchased the business just six months ago. Although he was once prosperous in the corporate world, Roger’s venture into the culinary industry proved less successful, and he was facing a $350,000 debt when Robert Irvine arrived to rescue him from despair. Strung with unattractive holiday lights and offering a menu of unpalatable food, Pinehurst Country Lodge was in desperate need of the design and menu revamps that Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible team was ready to provide. After just two days and with only $10,000, Pinehurst reopened to a bustling crowd and offered guests a menu of freshly prepared meals. FN Dish checked in with Roger a few months after Robert left to find out how his eatery is doing today.
“Business has picked up since the filming,” Roger tells us. “Overall I’d give it a 10 percent bump revenue-wise but consider my bottom line to be expanding more than that.” Pinehurst is indeed making more money than it was before its transformation, and Roger adds that he’s now seeing income from the bar.
After more than six seasons of budgeted, on-the-clock renovations on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine has seen seemingly everything — the good, the bad and the ugly — in eateries across the country. From unpalatable food and unsafe cooking conditions to creepy-crawlies covering the furniture and floor, the scenes at some of these restaurants are simply shocking, to Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible team and at-home viewers alike. No matter how dirty or downright disheartening a situation may be, however, Robert has never walked away from a challenge, successfully transforming nearly 70 eateries to date.
Over the years, Robert has proved his trademark to be his ability to breathe new life into once-failing establishments and give them the second chance they deserve. In the form of revamped menus and updated designs, plus tried-and-true techniques for food buying, handling front-of-house management and overseeing day-to-day operations, he outfits businesses with everything they need to not just survive but thrive. And ultimately his commitment has led to awe-inspiring transformations, especially given that his updates must be started and completed in just two days and can cost no more than $10,000.
See before-and-after photos