In a special episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine faced his toughest challenge yet when First Lady Michelle Obama assigned him the task of rebuilding Horton’s Kids, a children’s community center that provides many services such as serving after-school meals in one of Washington, D.C.’s neediest neighborhoods. Mrs. Obama gave Robert three missions: Give Horton’s Kids a dining room, update their kitchen and create a community garden for them.
A few months after Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible-style transformation of Horton’s Kids, we checked in with Executive Director Brenda Chamberlain to see how the organization is doing. “Everyone loves and is impressed with the new, transformed Horton’s Kids!” says Brenda. “The vibrant space establishes a sense of community for the children.”
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On the latest episode of Restaurant: Impossible, Robert headed to Memphis to help Pollard’s, a barbecue restaurant that was at risk of going up in smoke. The eatery was experiencing growing pains after upgrading from a takeout operation to a giant dine-in establishment. We checked in with owners Tarrance and Torria Pollard to see how business is going after their Restaurant: Impossible intervention.
A few months after Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible makeover, sales at Pollard’s Bar-B-Que have grown an impressive 20 percent.
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At the University Grill in Burlington, N.C., Robert Irvine faced three co-owners who refused to get along. Siblings Eleni, George and Manny opened the restaurant five years ago to help provide for their retired parents, but they were facing failure when Restaurant: Impossible came along to help. We checked in with the siblings after their restaurant’s makeover to see how business is going.
A few months after Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team arrived on the scene, sales at the University Grill are up 15 percent. “Everyone loves the new decor,” says Eleni.
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In Aptos, Calif., Robert and the Restaurant: Impossible team faced the daunting task of turning things around at Ristorante Barolo. Owners Giovanni Guerisoli and Cristina Locke struggled with the changing economy as well as family health problems, and could barely keep their 10-year-old business afloat. We checked in with the couple to see how things were going after Restaurant: Impossible.
Three months later, sales at Ristorante Barolo have increased by 37%. “The new decor and also all the publicity because of the show have brought new customers,” says Cristina. “People watch and really like Restaurant: Impossible.” Read more »
Robert’s latest mission brought him to Pappas, a family-owned Greek restaurant in Benicia, Calif. Feuding brothers, a drab interior and lackluster food were leading this business toward extinction. We checked in with the owners to see how things are going a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover.
Pappas Restaurant has seen an increase in sales of more than 50 percent versus the same time last year. The added revenue is helping Michael, aka Pappa, pay off his tax debts: “I see a great future ahead,” he says.
Pappas is seeing an increase in new customers and some old customers from the early days are finding their way back to the restaurant. They love the blue and white decor and are curious to try the new and improved Greek-inspired menu.
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When Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team visited Mama Lee’s soul food restaurant in San Antonio, it had never turned a profit and was just weeks away from closing down. A few months after Robert’s major revamp — he even called in reinforcements from HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins — we caught up with Ken, the owner, to see how business is going.
Four months later, Mama Lee’s is closer to turning a profit. Sales are up 15 percent and Ken is seeing many new customers in addition to his old regulars. With the increase in sales, he is slowly catching up on overdue bills.
Ken still feels reinvigorated as a leader. “We’re holding staff meetings every other Sunday,” he told us, in order to address service issues and discuss customer feedback. “I’m re-energized.” Read more »
Robert Irvine swooped into Seabrook, Texas, to help owners John and Laura Walker save their breakfast and lunch spot, the Pelican Grill. The Walkers filled us in on how business is going a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover.
Three months later, the Pelican Grill is thriving with a 40 percent increase in business and expanded hours that include dinner service.
The success comes on the heels of a bizarre setback. One month after the renovation, a car crashed through the front door of the restaurant in the middle of the night, causing $6,000 in damages. Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, repairs were made quickly and the Pelican Grill remained closed for only eight days.
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As of February 2012:
Three months later, new General Manager Kelly says the freshness of the new dining room has not waned for her.
Kelly now holds employee meetings to train staff on food safety and proper customer service. She and Kim also meet weekly with their newly hired chef, Matt, to go over any kitchen issues.
Chef Matt has become Kim’s right-hand man. He’s helping to bring in more fresh ideas, and today there are very few frozen items on the menu. Kelly is excited for Chef Matt’s new menu to roll out — she can’t wait to see customers’ reactions.
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Next Iron Chef judge Simon Majumdar joins us on the FN Dish each week to share his insider’s take on what went down Sunday night.
I have only been to a handful of ballgames during my short time living in the U.S. So, I was pretty certain, as we strolled into Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, that I would be the person present who knew the least about ballpark food.
I was wrong.
The Chairman’s Challenge for the nine remaining super chefs was one of transformation. He asked each of them to take classic ballpark dishes and re-create them in a Kitchen Stadium-worthy manner. It was no easy task, and the fact that each chef approached the challenge in very different ways showed that some of them, thankfully, knew even less about ballpark food than their British judge.
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The fourth season of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs is in full swing with 10 new chefs fighting it out for a grand prize that so many would-be chefs covet: joining the ranks of Iron Chefs Marc Forgione, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces and Michael Symon. Each chef will try to pull out all their tricks to stay in the competition but, ultimately, one chef must go home each week. Every Monday, FN Dish brings you exclusive exit interviews with the latest Super Chef to get the boot.
Find out who was sent home »