This week’s episode had the best elements of the old Restaurant Makeover:  Igor smashing everything and the designer having meltdowns, mixed with lots of new TAKEOVER twists.

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What’s at stake this time? Owner, Piraba’s livelihood and his relationship with his wife and daughters. Talk about stress!

Chef Derek Minkensky and I skipped the pen cams this week and managed to talk waitress Nicole into getting us a key to the resto. When we walked through the door, we literally felt like we went back in time.  The decor looked like it hadn’t been changed for at least 50 years. I don’t even know what they were going for: a hospital waiting room or just plain tacky? When did the combination of peach walls and teal vinyl become cool? The only thing that I was absolutely sure of was that it all had to go! Yuck!

After we spoke with Piraba, Derek and I had absolutely no choice but to help him because he was 2 seconds away from going bankrupt! I needed to come up with a new name for the restaurant, communicate my “Cool Mo’ D” (Cool Modern Diner) design style to Igor before he jumps ship, and get our Chef to come up with a menu that compliments my design.

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I wanted this place to be THE diner destination in the city and  my design had to stand out among the rest. I kept the stainless steel equipment that was covered by that horrible divider and used typical “diner” finishes like subway tile, chrome, moulded plastic chairs and vinyl but went for a hyper-modern twist with really graphic wallpaper and a high-contrast colour palette. All big ideas, now I just had to figure out a way to get Igor on the CherCher train.

WHAT YOU DIDN’T SEE DURING DEMO
We discovered holes in the floor, ceiling tiles that were falling off, and layers and layers of wallpaper. We uncovered a multi-coloured landscape with buildings and trees behind a booth. It gave me a glimpse of how bad the decor was from the start, so the institutional peach coloured walls wasn’t the worst after all.

COOLEST DISCOVERY
In my design, I had specified the main wall behind the new bar to be painted a crisp shade of white. As Igor removed the multiple layers of wallpaper, we noticed that the residue had created a very cool texture on the wall. I was going for an industrial look so this was perfect! Normally, that would cost thousands of dollars to have someone recreate this aged finish so I felt like I had hit the jackpot! And I have Igor to thank because it was his idea!  A few coats of sealer applied to the wall and suddenly the old becomes new!

WHAT WAS THE STRESS LEVEL ON THIS EPISODE?
Probably a 15! I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. From the exterior sign, to the flooring and furniture, we had to replace everything! Every time we took down a wall, a new problem popped up. The bar sink was rotting, the fridges broke so we had to buy new ones and we’re talking thousands of dollars here. So when you saw Igor and I argue about budget, we were extremely stressed! The bar top didn’t arrive until just hours before the reveal. Not the easiest thing to deal with when it’s midnight and you’re installing a 40 foot countertop in the dark. We stayed all night and I even had Chef Derek helping me to reupholster the banquettes! Go RTO team!

 

Before:

before

After:

after

MY THOUGHTS ON CHEF DEREK’S FOOD?

Delish! Chicken and waffles, now that’s something that every diner should have! His twist on the typical diner fare was refreshing and I could definitely see the Uptown becoming the new family  spot for cool twists on comfort food. The only thing that I didn’t get to sample was the banana pie since I’m actually allergic.  I know, I know…you’re thinking, who’s allergic to bananas? Just me!

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