Since Restaurant Impossible first debuted in 2011, Robert Irvine has visited hundreds of failing establishments across the United States to help them turn things around in just two days. With assistance from a design team that includes HGTV personalities, Robert has worked with restaurant owners to keep their restaurants from imminent closure. But it’s a tough business and not all places have kept their doors open in the long run.
If you’ve ever been curious about the fate of Restaurant Impossible alumni, and how many restaurants from Restaurant Impossible are still open, here are some of the eateries that are still open today. If you want to see what Robert Irvine will do next, watch Restaurant Impossible Thursdays at 9 PM ET/PT on Food Network Canada. Also Available on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, fuboTV, Rogers Ignite TV and Ignite SmartStream.
Secret Garden Cafe, Jacksonville, Florida (Season 1)
When Robert visited Jacksonville’s Secret Garden Cafe in the first season, the restaurant owners were in serious debt and about three months away from closing their doors for good. Thanks to some menu changes, some retraining of the kitchen staff, and a redesign of their dining area, they continue to be open for breakfast and lunch every day.
Dodge City Steakhouse, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Season 2)
A Wild West-themed steakhouse in Harrisburg, Dodge City was successful for its first 25 years but had been struggling in the five years leading up to their Restaurant Impossible episode in Season 2. With a scaled down menu, refreshed interior and new signage, owners Doug and Debbie are still serving lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch to the Central Pennsylvania area.
Pollard’s BBQ, Memphis, Tennessee (Season 3)
Season 3 brought Robert to Memphis restaurant Pollard’s BBQ, which had just moved into a new space although they’d been in the barbecue biz for 16 years. Both the food and the interior needed an overhaul, with the majority of items being frozen or prepared in advance, and the BBQ sauce wasn’t even made from scratch. With Restaurant Impossible’s help, business improved and they continue to operate today.
Gusanoz Mexican Restaurant, Lebanon, New Hampshire (Season 4)
Season 4 brought Robert and his team to New Hampshire’s Gusanoz, a family-run Mexican restaurant that was falling apart, physically and financially. After spending two days with Nick, Maria and their kids, Restaurant Impossible turned things around – especially with the service and the menu – and the doors are still open in 2023.
Sapori D’Italia, Fountain Hills, Arizona (Season 5)
Opening a restaurant is a challenge for even the most experienced business owners, but the business was new to the Manno family and within their first five years, they were buried under a mountain of debt. Sapori D’Italia was known for the arguments between staff rather than the food, but Robert’s visit turned things around, and they continue to bring in new and returning customers.
Joe Willy’s Seafood House, Fishkill, NY (Season 6)
Joe and Deana White already had a successful seafood business, but opening a restaurant pushed them beyond their limits. The Restaurant Impossible team arrived to find burnt food, poor communication with the staff, and a building that was falling apart. After changes to the menu and interior plus the addition of a roadside sign, business tripled at Joe Willy’s and they eventually moved to a larger location near Poughkeepsie.
Mama’s on the Hill, St. Louis, Missouri (Season 7)
Mama Campisi’s, also known as Mama’s on the Hill, had a restaurant industry vet at the helm but things were dire when Robert arrived back in 2013. Two staffers had stolen about $70k which put a strain on operations, and quality declined. Thanks to Restaurant Impossible, they went from frozen and canned foods to homemade dishes, including their signature toasted ravioli, and continue to serve the St. Louis area.
Mama E’s Wings and Waffles, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (Season 10)
Keith and Stephanie owned Mama E’s for nine years and had already been visited by Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives when Restaurant Impossible stepped in to save the crumbling business. In addition to undercharging for their dishes and serving portions that were way too large, Robert had to help this couple with their marriage, too. The restaurant was saved and people keep coming back for their delicious chicken and waffles.
Gigi’s Music Cafe, Sunrise, Florida (Season 11)
Gigi Brown dreamed of opening a restaurant with live entertainment but nobody was ordering the food when Robert stopped by. Food was made in advance and microwaved before serving, taking up to an hour to land on customers’ plates because there was only one microwave in the kitchen. With new staff, a new look and food that’s being served on time, the relaunch of Gigi’s Music Cafe was a success and they continue to serve the Sunrise area.
De Rican Chef, Virginia Beach, Virginia (Season 13)
This Puerto Rican establishment in Virginia Beach was tearing the Rothenberter family apart when Robert and his team were called in to help. Repairing family relationships was just as important as renovating the building and adjusting the menu. Not only is De Rican Chef still open, they’ve opened two additional locations.
Josephine’s Southern Cooking, Chicago, Illinois (Season 15)
Josephine’s, formerly Captain Hard Times, was a Chicago institution in decline when Restaurant Impossible stepped in. In business for more than 30 years, notable figures like Danny Glover and Aretha Franklin had dined there but extremely slow service and a mediocre menu had contributed to its downturn. A new menu, new staff and a new look increased sales by 40 percent within a couple of months and they continue to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Related: John Catucci’s City Guide: Chicago
Drake’s Place, Ferguson, Missouri (Season 16)
A beloved community hub on the verge of closing, the owners of Drake’s Place were out of money and options when they called in Robert Irvine to help them restore their family legacy. Customers raved about the new look after the renovation and loved the menu – especially the catfish – and the restaurant is still welcoming guests.
Polaris Street Cafe, Las Vegas, Nevada (Season 17)
When Restaurant Impossible visited Polaris Street Cafe, owner Julissa was attempting to save her late husband’s breakfast and lunch spot. An exciting new menu and interior improved business at this hidden gem just off the Las Vegas strip, and customers give them kudos for their delicious food and speedy service.
Smith’s Soul Food Bistro, Gastonia, North Carolina (Season 20)
In the Season 20 premiere, Restaurant Impossible visited Gastonia, North Carolina to help Smith’s Soul Food Bistro. Owner Cheryl was a former basketball coach who helps kids in her community by employing them at the restaurant but didn’t know how to run the place and they were on the verge of closing only 11 months after opening. With some valuable lessons from Robert Irvine, a chic bistro look and a delicious menu, Cheryl has been able to continue her mission.