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Restaurant Makeover Food

In the discussion about Phil's Original BBQ, and the fact they did not add any of the items that were suggested on the show (and really, they admitted later they did the show for the free advertising more than the makeover) - I started wondering if any of the restaurants on the show ever took the advice of the chef's and added suggested items to their menu.

Have any chowhounds been to any of the restaurants who received a makeover (both before and after) and found they added the items shown on the program?

Just curious.

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  1. I had a chat with the owner of Omonia a while back, before their reno. She told me she'd been talking to the RM people, who said they couldn't care less what the restaurant did after the show was shot. She was pretty clear on the fact that she had no interest in the show's opinion about her food. I bet a lot of the restaurants that actually appear on the show take the same approach.

    On the other hand, there's is (or was - I haven't been up there in a while) an Asian place on Yonge just south of St. Clair that was advertising certain menu items as "Recommended by Restaurant Makeover."

    2 Replies
    1. re: estragon

      Was Omonia done by RM? I hadn't seen any RM signs, so I had originally thought it was something they'd done on their own.

      That said, they've definitely made over their menu as well, whether it was on their own or as per RM's suggestions. The homemade kefta are gone from the hot pikilia platter (which is half the size it used to be), and the rice has been "enhanced" by the addition of the dreaded frozen veggies. UGH. My first trip post-reno was so horrendous that I wrote them off after nearly 20 years of regular visits.

      1. re: tartiflette

        I don't think they ultimately went on the show -- but they were considering it at the time, and they may have used one of the show's designers.

    2. I think Silk Road on the Danforth kept some of the menu items suggested by RM. I have been to Karma's in Peterborough and they didn't need to add the suggested items..the original items were might tasy and didn't need any of Lynn's help. I tried Cafe Vert but I don't think they kept any of the suggestions either.

      So far, that is all the RM clients I have tried. I would like to try the Cafe Asia...isn't that the one at Yonge and St. Clair.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Livingtoeat

        No, I think that's Citron (used to be called Forte).

        1. re: Livingtoeat

          I believe Cafe Asia is the small Asian resto near the St. Lawrence Market, on the north-east corner of Jarvis and Front. My wife and I used to eat lunch there quite often "before makeover" and it was okay; a little homely, but with cheap and decent food. Then quality steadily declined up until the makeover last year, during which the owner pulled out a bag of horrifically moldy carrots to cook with, to the horror of the chef, and worst of all didn't even seem to realize why that was wrong! That set off some alarm bells, for sure.

          After the makeover the place looked way better, and they brought in a real cook and the food is okay, but the prices also went up accordingly. Now for about the same price you can go next door to the Jason George pub and get good food and an excellent pint; or you can go two doors down to the Ninth Gate and get pseudo Korean in a very trendy atmosphere, or a little bit further down Front to Spring Rolls or Itzakaya for equivalently average food.

          1. re: Gary

            Of all the makeovers I have seen, I have only been to Phil's and Reliable Fish and Chips (and I still prefer Chippys).

            I never saw that one with the moldy carrots - yikes!

            I was always curious about which restaurant ended up suing the show....

            1. re: LovelyAsia

              It was Grapefruit Moon, from the first season. RM really did a number on them. The show was pulled and will not be shown again.

              1. re: estragon

                Did you see the show? Have you been to Grapefruit Moon?

                What exactly happened?

                1. re: LovelyAsia

                  Grapefruit Moon used to be my local before I moved to a different neighbourhood. I didn't see the show, but I talked to people who know what happened. RM made it look like the place was filthy and unsanitary (it wasn't). They brought in furniture that was completely inappropriate for the space -- eg. barstools that were too big for the narrow space and upholstered in cloth that very quickly became worn and dirty. And worst of all, after the owner specifically asked them not to paint over the exposed-brick walls, they did just that.

              2. re: LovelyAsia

                Chatted with the owner of Reliable soon after they reopened and he said that he did the show more for the exposure then any need to redo the restaurant for the sake of 'saving the business'. The menu is exactly the same as before (not a single change), and although they were plenty busy before the RM treatment I must say it appears they are doing even better afterwards. Perhaps one of the few RM's that have worked out in the owners favour?

                1. re: Vise

                  Well I know for a fact that RM did exactly what Phil's Original BBQ wanted - everytime the show airs, there is a lineup out the door - even in winter!

                  I think I remember seeing the Grapefruit Moon episode because I remember the issue of painting over the brick.

          2. Some of the RM episodes are getting a little long in the tooth - on Food TV Canada last night they had the Montana's makeover - how old is that?