Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Sep 10, 2008 01:50 PM

Restaurant Makeover Kiss of Death [moved from Ontario board]

Is the Restaurant Makeover Show the kiss of death for restaurants? One of my favs, the Town Grill, under went amakeover and closed shortly thereafter. Drove by Thai Thai Cafe on King and noticed its gone. Have any of the restos that appeared on the show improved (foodwise) and prospered?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. every restaurant makeover location i've ever been to, and theres a few, but most notably Phils BBQ and Perroni's pizza both seem to have very poor craftsmanship

    paint that peels, recycled chairs that break, flimsy construction all plague the places, which is a shame because I like both of these restuarants (yeah phils gets alot of hate, but really, you can do MUCH worse for food in toronto.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: duckdown

      I went to Phil's shortly after the makeover and he didn't seem to have any of the celeb chef items on the menu.

    2. I think one of the issues is that many of these restaurants have turned to RM once they're already in big trouble. Some new paint and fancy chairs aren't going to be a cure-all for bad management and business practices. Do the owners get any kind of Business 101 lessons with their makeover? They never show anything like that so I doubt it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: ms. clicquot

        I agree and was wondering about the exact same thing, they need chef Gordon Ramsay :P

        1. re: BamiaWruz

          LOL! I was also thinking Ramsay would likely have addressed the more pressing issues (and would have been more entertaining to watch).

        2. re: ms. clicquot

          I guess Business 101 doesn't make good TV the way Igor and the celebrity chefs in the kitchen do. And I don't really blame the restaurants for incorporating the new recipes, which never seem that realistic. The general tips (such as use better-quality ingredients for an Italian restaurant; use less oil for a quasi Thai place) seem more helpful, but I can understand it's hard for a restaurant that's already failing to invest more in their overhead with no guaranteed return.

          1. re: JamieK

            I feel sorry for all the participants. The problem with failing restaurant is obviously crap food, not outdated decor. So they borrow huge $$ so some designer can go nuts. Then the celeb chef comes in and does their little song and dance, usually without putting any thought into it, and runs away. No follow up, just delay the inevitable and leave the owners even deeper in debt.
            I just find that show so cynical I can't watch it.

            At least Ramsay tries to understand the local market and spends the majority of his time on the food. But they still pick basket cases so they can make entertaining TV.

            1. re: koknia

              Yeah, it's all about maximum drama and if the restaurant goes under in post-production, hey, life is tough.

              1. re: Pincus

                i agree the 'make over' is done on the cheap with little regard for what it will look like in a year...the grapfruit moon had it done a few years back and granted the place need a fresh coat of paint, the makeover team tried to make it something it is not...thank the lord they realized that and changed (menu) things back shortly it true that the dear owner of dooney's is moving along shortly after his make over....

                1. re: ribboy

                  And what really burns my britches-----they continue to air episodes of restaurants thave have since gone under!!! The list is long!

                  1. re: ribboy

                    That place is disgusting, that is one episode where although that designer woman (she is the WORST) did a bad job inside -- the place was absolutely filthy and the food was cooked by a pot smoking teenager..

                    I can't believe people eat there after watching that episode. Gross.

                2. re: koknia

                  I don't see any difference between RM and Ramsay. I'm sure some of the makeovers he's particpated have failed as well (since he deals mainly with food and not decor). There are lawsuits pending on fraud with Ramsay's show(s) -- where people eating at the restaurants are just the crew and not people off the street.

                  1. re: 5andman

                    Here is a website tracking the results of Ramsay's makeovers, both US (not worth watching IMO) and UK.

                    In the UK, 8 out of 22 restaurants from his show are still operating with the same owners. Considering all of them were on the verge of complete failure, that's not a bad number.

                    1. re: Sooeygun


                      Good find!

                      I've seen almost all of the UK shows (havent seen US... thank you, satellite TV) and enjoyed reading the outcome of all of those. I don't understand the Momma Cheri's episode -- the place became highly successful and over-packed nightly yet she is 200,000 pounds in the hole? Did anyone else understand this?

                      Glad to see Fenwick Arms is one of the few still open, I felt bad for that poor old guy.

                      If you really want a good laugh listen to the disaster than ensued after season 1 episode 1 (bonaparte's). Wow. Everyone involved in that episode had their lives decimated, HAHAHA

              2. For some place, I guess a precious few, it's a clever way to get some cheap TV advertising. For most, it seems totally ridiculous and the owners are bound to fail. Many come to mind. The chefs do a good job of trying to inspire the chefs, but come in with recipes way too complex for them to keep doing when they're gone. I can't help but think of the Jamaican place. Forget the name, but Lynn Crawford was the chef. She made these complex dishes that the crowd seemed to love, but good luck keeping them going. And the boathouse restaurant in cottage country. Corbin what's his face had the line cook level cook (not that there's anything wrong with that, but just keep some perspective) make bouillabaise and stressed the freshness of the seafood, and make the fish stock blah blah. YEah, good luck.

                I have to say, I went to Silk Road Cafe once, and it was pretty decent. And Quattro Regazze gets a lot of love on this board, although I have yet to go.

                5 Replies
                1. re: grandgourmand

                  Yes, it was the bouillabaisse episode that turned me against that show big time. She was just looking at him like he was from Mars.

                  Profoundly useless advice.

                  1. re: koknia

                    No kidding. I get the whole point of stressing fresh seafood, and fresh ingredients, etc...but they're in cottage country, not toronto. No big fishmongers up there. Teach them something simple, good, easy to replicate.

                    1. re: grandgourmand

                      Usually RM is the designer and chef showing off how smart they are, not how they understand the needs of the particular restaurant they are working with. I'm not surprised most of those menus get dropped after the show is over.

                      1. re: Pincus

                        Not surprised either. Just lamenting.

                      2. re: grandgourmand

                        Watching The Boathouse episode and jaw was on the floor with how obnoxious it they are to the owners and chef/cook. How many different ways can you shove complex obnoxious food at a line cook and tell them "this is what food is about!"?

                        I just found this thread while trying googling The Boathouse to see if it was still around. It is, the only carry over from RM is the bison burger. They appear to offer more sensible versions of the paninis from the show. Much of the old menu is back with chicken fingers and nachos. As predicted, the useless bouilabaisse stuff is nowhere to be found.


                  2. The original comment has been removed