Overrun with filth in the front of house and back, Georgia Boy Cafe in Hagerstown, Md., was in desperate need of rescuing when Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team arrived. Perhaps more than the restaurant, however, the relationship between the owners, partners Chuck Holman and Montez Dorsey, was on the brink of ruin, as their lack of communication and stress about the business were tearing them apart — and ultimately having a damaging effect on their eatery. With just two days to work and a budget of only $10,000, Robert relaunched Georgia Boy Cafe with a contemporary interior design and overhauled menu to match. FN Dish caught up with Chuck and Montez a few weeks after Robert left to find out how their business is doing today.
“The business is doing much better than before the show,” Chuck and Montez tell FN Dish. “We are … being more creative on ways to get customers in the door, and not only having new customers but repeat customers.”
While some businesses on Restaurant: Impossible struggle with problems that are in full view of the customers, like a feuding wait staff or dingy carpeting and chipped paint in the dining room, others’ issues are trapped behind closed doors in the kitchen. It’s only when Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team arrive and shine a light on the back of the house that the horrible truths of some eateries’ kitchens are revealed.
Over the years on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert has discovered a range of uncleanliness in restaurant kitchens — some simply untidy and many in need of a solid scrubbing. But then there are those that are infested with insects, have surfaces caked in several years’ worth of grease and are outfitted with refrigerators full of spoiling food. The cleaning of these establishments often requires not only time and money from Robert’s budget, but also a serious lesson from the host himself on how to maintain proper food standards in the restaurant.
“The place is clean, a little dark but nothing [like] what I’m used to. So I’m confused why I’m here,” Robert Irvine told Bill and Gail Darling, the owners of Coach Lamp Restaurant & Pub in Louisville, Ky. In addition to a tidy space, Robert also found good-tasting food, but it turns out that is where many of the business’ problems laid. The high-priced offerings on the menu — coupled with the too-formal ambiance that comes with white linen tablecloths — weren’t attracting locals, despite their tendency to visit a neighborhood restaurant nearby. Thanks to Robert’s tough-love approach, as well as his Restaurant: Impossible team’s work in transforming the outdoor patio into a welcoming space, however, Coach Lamp relaunched as an inviting, comfortable restaurant. Read on below to hear from Bill and find out how his eatery is doing a few weeks after Robert left.
Since Coach Lamp has reopened, business has jumped nearly 30 percent, according to Bill. “The liquor, beer [and] wine sales are 40 percent of the food sales …. The money is in the bar goods,” he says. “We are seeing more locals visiting.”
When Robert Irvine visits a business on Restaurant: Impossible, he’s not merely knocking down walls, cleaning kitchens and revamping menus; he’s giving restaurant owners as well as their management and employees the tools they need to improve their business practices and ultimately providing them with the opportunity to guarantee future success. For some owners, Robert’s visit is a last-ditch effort to rescue their restaurants from certain failure. The idea that he has the power to improve all aspects of their business in just two quick days fully comes to life when they first lay eyes on their new restaurants, and it soon becomes too much for them to bear, forcing them to break down and become emotional at the reveal.
While nearly all of the owners are pleased with the refreshed look of their new establishment, many are brought to tears by it — not just because of the changes in decor but because of the positive and necessary opportunities these updates will bring as well. Click the play button on the video above to relive the top-five most emotional reveals ever featured on Restaurant: Impossible, then tune in tonight at 10pm/9c to watch an all-new episode.
When it comes to transforming America’s failing restaurants on Restaurant: Impossible and giving them a second chance at future success, fans know that Robert Irvine is all business, dedicated to teaching owners how to turn their eateries into profitable productions. And each week on Restaurant Express, you see him challenging restaurant hopefuls to survive the ultimate seven-week culinary road trip. But just recently, Robert invited fans to get to know him beyond television and divulged insider details about seemingly all aspects of his life. In an #AskIrvine Twitter chat, Robert revealed his favorite meal, deserted island must-have, packing preferences when traveling, secret to achieving bulging biceps and more. Read on below to get caught up on the highlights and learn 10 little-known facts about this longtime chef and professional restaurateur.
1. Even though he’s in tiptop shape, Robert admits, “I believe every meal should end with something sweet.”
2. When asked what single food he would bring with him on a deserted island, he answered: “Water. You can’t live without it.”
3. “I love Stella and Heineken,” Robert admits of his favorite beers.
4. For more than 10 years, Robert was a member of the British Navy.
5. Robert has been cooking since he was 11 years old.
“This might be a lost cause,” Robert Irvine said while working with the Calos family at their seven-year-old restaurant, The Windsor 75. Owners Therese and George and their two sons needed Robert’s help to not only update what he deemed “blah” decor and improve their menu but also ease the tensions and end the bickering between them. With just two days to work and a $10,000 budget, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team accomplished their mission to relaunch The Windsor 75 and set up the Caloses with the tools they need for future success. FN Dish checked in with Therese a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery is doing today.
Since The Windsor 75 reopened, Therese says, business has increased nearly 10 percent, and they tweaked their hours and offerings, now closing on Monday and serving breakfast only on the weekends. To her, perhaps the most-impressive aspect of the transformation is the updated design. “It is open, airy, and filled with life and hope for the future,” Therese tells FN Dish. “Truly words cannot express how we feel about the decor. Our hearts are bursting! There are too many wonderful elements.”
When Robert Irvine visits a business on Restaurant: Impossible, he has but one goal: Fix the failure. Despite his no-nonsense attitude and often harsh critiques of eateries’ menus and decor, he wants to see the restaurants thrive, and with the help of his team, he will use his years of experience and expertise to give each establishment a second chance at success. While owners accept Robert’s matter-of-fact assessments of their business, no matter how bleak and seemingly unforgiving they may be, others are quick to question his authority and proficiency, believing their ways of running a restaurant to be effective.
These persistent — if, perhaps, naïve — owners stand by their business practices, plus the quality of their food and menu offerings, and they see no fault in their management styles, often despite looming financial disaster or unhappy employees. While Robert’s almost always able to convince these dogged owners of their mistakes and give them opportunities to improve, the most tenacious among them will fight with Robert until the very end to attempt to support their theories.
You’ve seen every episode of Restaurant: Impossible and have even ventured to try for yourself some of the overhauled eateries featured on the show. You’re eagerly tuning in to the latest premieres of Robert’s all-new show, Restaurant Express, and you’ve already cast your Fan Vote for the contestant you think should win the final prize. But when it comes to the host of these game-changing series, how much do you know about Robert Irvine? This British-born chef and restaurateur has been cooking since he was a boy, and he is perhaps as famous for his signature muscled physique as he is his no-nonsense attitude and fearless approach to any mission on television. Take the quiz below to test your knowledge of all things Chef Robert, and find out if you’re the ultimate fan.
Are You the Ultimate Robert Irvine Fan?
Are you worthy of the title Robert Irvine Superfan? Answer these questions to find out.
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Robert has deemed what classic comfort food his all-time favorite food?
Spaghetti and meatballs
Cheeseburger and french fries
Roast chicken and mashed potatoes
Chocolate cake and ice cream
On which of the following shows has Robert not appeared?
The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs
In 2012 Robert married Gail Kim, a professional wrestler. Which of the below Food Network stars was Robert's best man at his wedding?
Robert and Gail vacationed in which country on their honeymoon?
Which common construction tool is Robert famous for wielding on Restaurant: Impossible?
How many days a year does Robert spend traveling away from home?
On Restaurant: Impossible, Robert and his construction and design teams have how much money to spend on renovations?
Robert typically wears jeans and what color shirts while filming his shows, Restaurant: Impossible and Restaurant Express?
Black or white
Gray or red
Blue or black
Black or gray
How old was Robert when he became a member of the British Royal Navy?
Which famous public figure did Robert welcome to an episode of Holiday: Impossible?
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Facing nearly $230,000 of debt, 33-year-old Ducky’s Family Restaurant in Kokomo, Ind., desperately needed Robert Irvine‘s help if the business was to have any chance at future success. Not long after Robert arrived, he realized that poor-quality canned food was among the largest issues plaguing Ducky’s, as was its drab interior decor akin, which Robert’s designer, Taniya Nayak, deemed “a cafeteria nightmare.” Together with Taniya and the rest of his Restaurant: Impossibleteam, Robert re-launched Ducky’s after two days of work on a $10,000 budget, and he helped owner Bill Duncan and Bill’s family learn essential skills for managing their family-run eatery. FN Dish caught up with Bill to find out how his business is doing a few months since the show filmed.
“Since the shooting of our episode, we have doubled our weekly sales,” Bill said. “Everyone loves the remodel.”
“My job here is intense, to say the least,” Robert Irvine said not long after arriving at Mama Campisi’s Restaurant in St. Louis. This nine-year-old Italian eatery was once profitable, making nearly $1 million in revenue, but after employee theft resulted in more than $70,000 in losses, the business faded, and now husband-and-wife owners Lance and Andrea Ervin face nearly $600,000 worth of debt. But beyond their financial struggles, Andrea was overwhelmed by her situation, so Robert’s mission was twofold: Give Mama Campisi’s the tools it needs to succeed again, and help Andrea and her family regain their trust in their restaurant. After just two days and with only $10,000, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team reopened Mama Campisi’s with an inspired menu, a transformed interior and the skills needed to ensure future profits. FN Dish checked in with Andrea and Lance to find how the business is doing today.
“Business seems to have picked up,” Andrea said. “We were able get a couple [people] paid in full, however, due to the repairs that had to be done, we have been at a standstill right now.”