On last night’s episode of “Restaurant: Impossible,” Robert Irvine went to Bethlehem, Pa. to visit “Benner Street Restaurant” in this episode titled “Good Food, Bad Vices.”
Robert came to the restaurant to meet with owners Dorothy and Thom, who have seen their restaurant go from thriving to dying. Thom’s health is a big issue, and Dorothy is fearful that he has lost his passion. Dorothy is the controller of the restaurant, from paying bills to making all the decisions. To deal with the stress, Thom turned to alcohol, but that just added to the stress and hindered their relationship. Now their fighting has alienated not only the staff, but the customers too. Thom has a bad heart and has about three years to live, but he wants Benner Street to go on after he is gone for Dorothy’s sake.
When Robert came in, he felt like he was in his grandmother’s house, with the dried flowers and doilies on the table. Thom was a chef at a restaurant for most of his life, and sixteen years ago they bought the place. They are still in debt for over $200,000 on the restaurant alone, and their home is also on the line if they fail. Thom told Robert how controlling Dorothy was; she does everyone’s job, but only half-assed. She related that his drinking is a problem, and their marriage merely survives because of economics. Robert may be able to fix the restaurant, but the relationship may never be fixed.
Robert observed a service. As guests came in, they ran out of different foods, had only one kind of beer. Dorothy’s daughter works there as well as Thom’s son. The children sometimes have to be the buffer between the staff and their parents. Both children agree that if their parents do not find a better way to communicate, it will never work. Neither the service nor the food was a problem. Robert soon saw the control problems that Dorothy had, as she micro-managed everything. Subsequently her daughter had to tell her to stop hovering over her and everyone else in the place. Robert knows that Dorothy is the biggest problem there. She has given up on everything else in her life, just for the restaurant. Robert sent her outside to chill out after a confrontation with her daughter, who pointed out her hovering issues.
Robert came to the kitchen to talk with Thom and ordered several menu items directly from him. He wanted to observe Thom as he cooked, and get to know him a bit better while Dorothy was not hovering. Robert liked just about everything he tasted, but asked why something was made in a certain way, and Thom told him that he was not allowed to change it. Robert wants to tweak the food, because it is dated.
Cheryl came to check out what she will redesign. The bar is in good shape, but needs more definition. Everyone helped remove everything from the restaurant, but Thom was physically having problems, and Robert wanted him to sit and rest. In their car, Thom was not feeling well, so Robert called for an ambulance, and they took Thom to St. Luke’s hospital for evaluation. Now Robert has more to think about.
Cheryl and Tom were working together already, and Tom had the walls painted when Robert returned after the ambulance took Thom away. Robert found out that Thom came home that night, and awaited hearing about his condition. In their absence, Robert met with the staff for their input. They do not blame Dorothy completely, because Thom’s drinking has caused her to have to fill in when he is physically unable to work.
When Dorothy and Thom came back, Robert had a chance to talk to the both of them alone. Robert told them, he had to hire a cook to take over; Dorothy has to allow Tina to run the front of the house. They also needed more choices of alcohol at the bar and to allow their kids and the staff to do their jobs. They need more time off together and let the place operate. As he spoke to them, the two were holding hands, probably something they have not done in years.
Robert took cooks, Chase and Scott and twisted the menu to come up with a happy hour fare that will be only served from 5 to 7 p.m. and lure people in with the food and drink. With only twenty people a day for happy hour, the place will yield an extra $50,000 for that menu alone. The cooks were thrilled at the dishes Robert made, and between the two of them, will most certainly handle the kitchen.
Dorothy and Tina went to the nearby area to Lehigh University and St. Luke’s hospital and handed out happy hour menus to lure people to their restaurant. Suddenly, torrential rain gave the crew a horrible setback. However, they are professional, and got the job done for the grand reopening.
As the lines formed outside the place, Dorothy and Thom seemed to have a rebirth of spirit. When Robert took them in to see it, he also brought in Tina and Chase to see the unveiling. From grandma’s kitchen to a French bistro, the place was gorgeous. The stress seemed to be removed from Thom’s face and a new-found love between the two shone through the place.
thanks to Robert and his crew of “Restaurant: Impossible.” this restaurant and family have found a reason to live.
At the end of each show, Robert tells viewers to check his link to see how the restaurant is doing since his visit. If you liked what you read, please click on the “Subscribe” button above, and you will never miss another post from this New Jersey Examiner. Thanks!