HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >


Restaurant Impossible Detroit

So, just for kicks, which restaurant would you nominate to get revamped by Chef Irvine? This is the place that you hate to love because, despite great potential, it's underperforming, and every time you walk in the door you just want to have a heart to heart with the owner and turn it around.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oooooh. This ought'a be fun. Putting on my thinking cap ...

    1. Ok...I love this question, Tokyo!!!

      I had this conversation the other day, while sitting in Onion Roll Deli on Woodward in Royal Oak. They serve one of, if not the best, corned beef sandwiches I have ever had but the place is a dive!

      We always return because the food is really good and the two owners (both named Alex) that are always onsite are seriously great hardworking guys.

      The place is tiny, they have been there for so long and still do a decent business but when you sit there you realize how much more they would do if the place looked better. I don't know if it actually would qualify for Restaurant Impossible because of it's size but it's a place I think has unlimited potential because their food (especially corned beef) are really very good!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Jack Freeman

        I think Onion Roll is too successful for their premise.

        Until the latest makeover, I think Ginopolis may have been in the running.
        It was becoming a ghost town.

        I'll nominate Sea Grille in West Bloomfield ... Dunno if it is still a going concern.

        1. re: rainsux

          This is a good start, Jack and rsux. No one else wants to jump in? Man, I thought people would be all over this! The December 1 Free Press column solicits "those that are in danger of closing or who need higher revenues or better reviews."

          1. re: tokyo

            I've probably been somewhat disappointed, or otherwise could give a more positive review, to so many that the sheer number has caused my brain to lock and forget them all. This is why we don't eat out often, and when we do, we go to the same places (Amicis, Town Tavern, "Old" Seoul Garden in Mad Heights, Ajishin, Rochester Brewery because we're 1 block away once a week, etc.).

            Ah - Lily's Seafood. Ate there last time 2+ years ago, because they were just plain underperforming. Blahsville.

          2. re: rainsux

            Couldn't agree more on both Ginopolis and Sea Grille. I've tried the Sea Grille a couple times. Makes me miss Big Daddy's.

            How about Courthouse Grille in Plymouth, formerly Ernesto's? Food has been hit or miss, when it's hit, it's great and I love the atmosphere, but there's never any cars in the parking lot.

        2. the cupcake station in birmingham! i've never had anything worth the calories from there. irvine needs to teach them about FRESHNESS

            1. re: JanPrimus

              Scotty's isn't failing, though, is it? I mean, I'll be the first to admit that the physical restaurant could use some major spiffing up, but they still seem to be doing all right. I'd certainly welcome an interior renovation, but doesn't their physical location play into things an awful lot as well?

              1. re: boagman

                They do fish GREAT....The Slaw, drinks, fries, and other things oh need so much more attention. They may eek out a living but they have something that could be so much more.

                1. re: JanPrimus

                  I'm going to disagree with you as strongly as I can on the coleslaw. I stinking love that stuff and usually double up on it. Also their onion rings are spectacular and their tartar sauce is amazing. Yes, the chips can be a bit limp.

                  Still, they're not going to be a gangbusters business in *that* neighborhood...ever.

            2. I think one of the problems is that we generally don't go back to crappy places to know enough about which could be remade so don't have a large list. One that strikes me is really bad Mexican wfodod but hugely popular in Dearborn -- Mexica Fiesta aka Mexican FIasco. Had to go w work gang. I guess crappy food still draws a crowd.

              1. Tounge Thaid....great food but they need more help to stay open! Then hopefully they would re open with consistant hours....miss the food!

                2 Replies
                1. re: christyar

                  We're in complete agreement, here (aside from the bad spelling...it's Tongue Thai'd). The only thing I'd wonder about is, again, with the location. Apparently, Natalie and her husband were quite successful in Las Vegas, and when they came here, their Royal Oak location would not allow for any kind of in-house dining, and they had difficulties holding onto chefs that would/could learn the way to do things efficiently.

                  I know from speaking to Natalie after they closed that they're actively looking for a location that allows for some in-house eating, but the biggest hurdle is getting good, reliable, efficient help that would allow the restaurant to be run like a well-oiled machine even when the owners aren't present. Food takes far too long to get to customers, and normal Thai food doesn't take any longer than 10 minutes, max, especially for carryout.

                  The food, though, was terrific. I'm hoping that they return somewhere with a triumph.

                  1. re: boagman

                    The BBC building is probably available...and they have a beer/wine license. But it definitely needs a remodel

                2. Clear winner is Franco's Irish/Italian on Rochester road in Troy. Empty at Friday lunch;No Irish sausage because people won't order them; Had veal picatta that was worse than Banquet in a box.

                  They have a liquor license, need an update and a focused menu. QED!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: goatgolfer

                    I've read about that place. *Irish* AND *Italian*? With all due respect that El Barzon has coming to it, those are two really disjointed types of cuisine that either:

                    A. Isn't even respected in its motherland (Irish), or
                    B. Has way, way too much local representation to be trying to get by with half measures (Italian)

                    If you're serving any type of veal, you had *darned well* be able to prepare it correctly for the prices it fetches (I'm looking squarely at *you*, Pasquale's).

                    I'll avoid this place in the future, thanks to you, but to be honest, I'd never planned on going there in the first place. Yikes. Thanks GG.

                    1. re: boagman

                      Francoes' Restaurante has replaced Irish and Italian. Seems to be the same people. Same number of cars in the parking lot though.

                    2. re: goatgolfer

                      Wow, this place could be a strong contender. In my little bit of online searching, I read about the impact that major long-term road construction had on this restaurant -a legitimate problem. They have already made efforts in redecorating but it sounds like the menu is suffering. They do need help!

                      1. re: tokyo

                        Only owners and staff can submit the form for consideration. We could however create a CH inspired conversation that was sent sub-rosa to Impossible or Hell-man.

                        1. re: goatgolfer

                          Sorry, I think my post read like I was implying WE could submit them. I'm looking at it more from the perspective of getting the conversation going, and maybe - just maybe - it could provide impetus for one of these local proprietors, or a personal acquaintance/employee to take action.