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Restaurant Impossible: So Would You Eat There?

a
Abigail Mar 14, 2012 06:39 AM

I enjoy the show, but I don't think there's been a single episode where I came away saying I'd like to eat there. In fact, even with the professional makeover, I have yet to see a single restaurant where I would willingly eat.

If a place is disgustingly dirty, a clean-up and lesson in hygiene is called for. But the chances of relapse seen high. If a chef doesn't know enough to put salt and pepper in food, which seems a common error, then they don't know enough to be in the business and will probably be making bad food immediately again. You can tell the owner to stop screaming at the staff, but you can't redo a personality without at least six months of psychotherapy. (Ha!) You can gussy a place up in two days, but most of these restauranteurs seem possessed of numerous bad habits, and I come away feeling that just about everything is going to start its slide from mediocrity nearly immediately.

And here's the thing that really brings it home to me. This show often runs right after "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives"--which features places I'd be very happy to eat in. Most of these restaurants have some signature dish or dishes that make it worth a trip. Robert Irvine may donate a recipe or two to the places he upgrades, but they're still left without any signature dish. And that's the real flaw of so many of these restaurants. If you're serving the same food as dozens of your nearby competitors are, it doesn't matter if you're now only brought back up to their level. As Gypsy Rose Lee once said, "you need a gimmick," and these places are mostly a dime a dozen.

  1. p
    Puffin3 Mar 14, 2012 06:43 AM

    What happened to Irvine? I understand that year three is already in the can with Flay. Is that right? Is the Flay show now on TV?

    1. j
      Janet from Richmond Mar 14, 2012 06:46 AM

      I think RI is one of the worst shows out there for a number of reasons. I've been reprimanded in recent years for saying that chronic money problems are not about money and this show makes that argument for me.

      The general themes of lack of interest in quality of food and having zero passion for food along with the cleanliness issues are enough to keep me away from any of the places. They all suck as far as I'm concerned.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Janet from Richmond
        j
        jeanmarieok Mar 14, 2012 07:04 AM

        It's the general filth in these places that turns me off completely. I have enough restaurant experience that it's not surprising, but I wouldn't eat at a place that has had its dirty laundry exposed.

      2. g
        GH1618 Mar 14, 2012 07:04 AM

        The idea, it seems to me, is not to get you to eat there, but to get you to watch the show.

        1. a
          andieb Mar 14, 2012 07:09 AM

          It's funny, we were talking about one of the recent episodes-delaware I believe, the crab shack place-that the $10,000 would be better spent on psychotherapy for the owners hoarding issues. Anyone who could accumulate that much "stuff" has bigger issues...

          2 Replies
          1. re: andieb
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            Puffin3 Mar 14, 2012 08:14 AM

            "I've got a great idea to turn this loser into a success Mabel. Let's call the RI people to video how filthy we keep usually keep this dump. The RI will have some British loud mouth with huge steroid enhanced arms come in and scream at us and we can can watch him throw ten grand down the drain putting up cheap wall paper and making a sandwich and then the episode will go on national TV and then we'll have line ups for every lunch special we throw on the plate for ever. I wonder if Terry Valenti is looking for a job?"

            1. re: Puffin3
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              dfishhead Mar 14, 2012 08:18 AM

              The place the show is about tonight has already closed down!! Before the show has even aired. That sums up the places on this show. Not worth eating at!

          2. LurkerDan Mar 14, 2012 08:29 AM

            Of course they're not worth eating at! If they sucked horribly, how is 48 hours going to change that enough to make them Chow worthy?

            1. Bob W Mar 14, 2012 10:16 AM

              I was all prepared to drive across the Causeway and try Coffee's Boiling Pot, near New Orleans, on our next visit, until the very end of the show, when we were informed that the owner went back to his pre-Robert tasteless seafood boil recipe. Moron!

              1. DiningDiva Mar 14, 2012 10:56 PM

                There is a place literally less than a mile from my house that was on RI. It's not (and never was) dirty, the owner is one of the nicest people you'd want to meet (and actually has previous restaruant experience), the food was good, offers one of the better gluten-free menus in town and breakfast and lunch business routinely has a line out the door. Even Robert Irvine admitted this and said something like "why am I here"

                1. The owner paid too much for the business and went deeper in debt when the economy failed trying to save her business
                2. Prices were too low, i.e. not enough to cover food cost and overhead expenses
                3. Too many senior citizens who would come for coffee and stay for hours chatting with each other, but not buying much.
                4. No dinner service and previous dinner service failed for a number of reasons, not related to the food.

                The make over made an "ok" interior into a really nice one. The Robert Irvine menu was decent, and about half of it is still in play. The benefit for this place being on the show was the efforts made to educate the owner about food cost, how to cost and price a menu and back of the house training. RI (the show) took a relatively decent neighborhood place and made it more viable.

                I've eaten there multiple times since they were on the show. They're doing well, business is steady and they've expanded their dinner business from 2-days a week to 4. Breakfast and lunch are still very busy, but the dinner business may be enough to keep them from sinking under crushing debt.

                This was one of the very few places I've seen featured on RI that was not uber-dysfunctional to start with. The owner is not a moron, she just paid about 3Xs too much for the place. She spends a lot of time on the floor talking to her customers and actively solicits comments and feedback. I'm keeping my fingers crossed she can survive because it's one of the few indy restaurants in the area with good food that serves dinner.

                4 Replies
                1. re: DiningDiva
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                  Janet from Richmond Mar 15, 2012 05:57 AM

                  I remember that episode and agree with you......that is a place I would have eaten.

                  And she seemed very nice.

                  1. re: DiningDiva
                    LurkerDan Mar 15, 2012 09:42 AM

                    I too remember that episode, and my first statement in this thread was an exaggeration, there have been a few places featured that didn't appear awful, just struggling because of poor business decisions.

                    1. re: LurkerDan
                      DiningDiva Mar 15, 2012 10:10 AM

                      I think this place is probably more the anomoly for RI than not. Almost all of the places on RI are the result of poor (and often stupid) business decisions, compounded by indifference. The Trails at least had something to build upon going into the re-do, inlcuding an engaged and motivated owner. Most of the places they feature would be better off closed.

                    2. re: DiningDiva
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                      gamine Jul 27, 2012 09:06 AM

                      I absolutely agree.....I loved this episode. The restaurant was The Trails and the owners,and their Chef were very special. W all can use guidance and I think Robert and his team do an incredible job in the time with the spectacular make overs & funds to achieve what they do, you cannot fix everything, but these owners and the establishments were given amazing gifts of funds, publicity, mentoring, even if for 48 hours, Robert does wonders with these restaurants, and yes many are in quite a state. Many do very well afterwards and I would absolutely visit many of these, even if they were a fright prior....it is a remarkable thing I believe that people can open their heart and mind and eyes with the power of knowledge and the power of someone in his position with his vast experience base, I would be humbled in his presence and are those he helps, even if his tactics are sometimes loud and militant, if you really see he helps people and his heart is very very large. After an experience as that, these owners have changed, yes some fall back as change is hard, but they are always in a much better place and have a better chance of survival because of Robert and his team at Restaurant impossible. I applaud them and the show.I am amazed at what they all do.

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