World Chefs-Irvine dishes tough love to failing eateries

Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:00am GMT

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - British chef Robert Irvine doles out tough, and often much needed advice, to owners of struggling American restaurants on his television show "Restaurant Impossible."

In each episode, Irvine visits an eatery on the brink of bankruptcy and with the help of his team he devises solutions to revamp its menu, operations and decor. The transformation happens in 48 hours with a $10,000 budget.

The 46-year-old, who was born in Manchester, England, spoke to Reuters about fixing failing restaurants, the need for regular makeovers and how owners react to his suggestions.

Q: What is the common mistake of the struggling restaurants you've helped on your show?

A: "For the most part, once they are successful, the owners get caught up with the money flowing. The good times will roll as they say, and they forget when something goes wrong. Instead of putting a percentage of their net earnings into a rainy day fund, they enjoy the fruit of their labor which is fine.

"But come the economic changes or when equipments need to be bought, or God forbid, something goes wrong with the restaurant, they have no money to redo it. Most restaurants in my opinion need to be made over every three years. I'm not even talking about knocking walls down, but fresh coats of paints, new wallpaper, maybe new linen, new table top, new spoons and plates."

Q: What is the worst restaurant you have helped so far?

A: "I can't pick any one restaurant out because of their unique needs. You could never paint a picture of one restaurant as being the worst. The food may be good but the d├ęcor may be terrible. It may be dirty. There are so many different facets. I think they are all bad in some manner, shape or form. That's why I'm there. They are on the verge of bankruptcy. They wouldn't call me otherwise."   Continued...

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