The Trails Restaurant
The Trails episode of Restaurant Impossible is going to be aired tonight at 10pm on FN. I am really curious to see this episode. I sure hope they don't come off as crappy as some of those east coast places and at least they don't have a pig farm out in back like that Italian restaurant a couple of weeks ago.
I sincerely hope they do not portray the owner as a complete dud and hopelessly in over her head. I've actually had the opportunity to meet her post-RI and she's really quite sane and nice. I would really hate to see her portrayed as badly as some of the other owners have been on RI.
I've been a few times since the re-do. Love the new decor, it really spruced up the place. You can see how quickly they slapped it together in a few places (most notably the subway tiles) but overall it really enhanced the interior of the place substantially.
The breakfast/lunch menu remains in place and intact, there were few, if any, changes made in that. The new dinner menu is a mix of things and at least 2 items - the tuna cube and the caprese salad - have already been discontinued. The tuna entree has gotten good reviews. I've eyeballed the salmon meatballs a couple of times but they haven't really called my name enough to make me order them (I'm lukewarm to salmon to begin with), though people at neighboring tables have told me they were pretty good. I suspect one of the challenges - other than location - is that the cooking staff is not highly trained and has limited capacity to produce a very complicated or extensive menu. But San Carlos doesn't need complicated, it just needs a place with a few sonsistently interesting dinner items at a reasonably price. Keeping my fingers crossed this may be it because Nicolosi's, McCarters and Denny's sure aren't :-)
For those with gluten issues, The Trails has (and had it prior to RI) an extensive gluten-free menu, one of the larger ones I've seen in SD
I was there for lunch right before Labor Day and Stacy said they were about ready to extend to Friday night. Her objective is to do dinner Wed - Sat. I've been gone for the last 10 days so I don't know for sure if they've actually opened on Friday yet or not.
She also said that she, the owners of Mtn. Mike's and San Carlos Hardware were going to pool their resources and get a new insert for that big sign pole in the parking lot out front advertising all 3 businesses.
After viewing some episodes of RI, it's pretty demoralizing to see what the majority of these owners have taken on. Your post does not revel too much about the food and your concern with the cooking staff and dropping of entree items tends to tell me that this place could revert back to it's former self. For all that they've gone through, I hope they can survive and do well.
I don't think they'll revert back. If you watched the episode you heard Robert Irvine say that:
a) the original decor was not bad and the place was clean
b) the food was edible and actually pretty good
Where some of the restaurants featured on the show do not have the ability to sustain the changes that were implemented, I think The Trails does. Unlike other restos on the show, they were at least doing a competent job at what they did do...breakfast and lunch. If you've noticed in other epsiodes there are often underlying structural problems like owner and managers that are absent or have no previous restaurant experience, bad or rude waitstaff, bad menus, and so forth. Those we are not really the case with The Trails. They do have an owner/manager that understands the business, the waitstaff is actually pretty nice, the B/L menu the staff can execute well. It would seem the big problem with The Trails was under capitalization for the long haul. They've actually got the tools to make the place work. I don't think that's the case with some of the places that have been featured.
The issues were the owners paid too much for the place to begin with and then sunk more money into it with the expansion. If you go back to the original thread about The Trails being on RI you'll see I did mention that the expansion was probably a big part of the problem. I'm also a little incredulous that they paid what they did for Megan's Cafe, RI was right, they way overpaid.
I was surprised the caprese salad was dropped, but not the tuna cube. If you noticed, most of the commentors in the show were seniors, which makes up a significant part of the regular clientel. Tuna cube just isn't going to be their thing. The senior crew just comes in for coffee and muffins and as RI pointed out, you're never going to make your mortgage on that.
After watching the espisode, I was surprised at how well her main cook can actually cook. RI had her make 7 items and she did well with the majority of them, he even said he'd eat several of the things she prepared.
Where the show missed the mark for me was in chosing to advertise on Star 94. This is a strictly neighborhood restaurant and most of the residents are more likely to be listening to KYXY or conservative talk radio than Star 94. I suspect they were trying to reach the younger diner, but the age demographic for San Carlos tracks older than it does younger.
I totally understand why they were reluctant to get back into dinner service again. They really didn't do well with it the first time around. The dinner menu was an odd mix of things, inconsistent and not particularly well executed (veggies were often stone cold). The new dinner menu is lighter, less formal and, I think, more doable for them.