On Sunday night, the Food Network aired its latest installment of Restaurant Impossible, wherein restaurant interventionist Robert Irvine visits a failing establishment in dire need of help. In this case, Irvine spent two days at Edibles, a bar-restaurant in Horsham, Montgomery County, and the terrible name was only the beginning of the restaurant’s problems.
That stack of papers in front of Irvine, who is seated far left in the above photo, is a copy of Edibles’ profit-and-loss statement. Irvine was completely beside himself as he told the downtrodden owners and employees–most of whom are members of the Hurley family–that there should be $600,000 in the bank that’s not there. This would be a significant factor in any restaurant, but especially in one that was already losing $4,000 each month. The question of exactly where this money went was never definitively answered.
Other factors contributing to Edibles’ downward spiral:
The food: Irvine ordered several dishes, from pasta to cheesesteak to pizza, and said it was among the blandest and worst food that he’d ever tasted. “I have never come across a restaurant where I ordered that much food and it was that bad,” declared Irvine. “All of it.”
The look: The pale shoebox of a dining room gave new meaning to the word “drab”. Irvine also noted a lot of filth in the dining room, although he was impressed by the cleanliness and setup of the kitchen. No Kitchen Nightmares-style cockroach or squished rodent surprises here.
The family: I lost track of how many family members were actually working at Edibles. It was a family business in the truest sense of the word. But as with all family businesses, tensions were running high, especially surrounding the owners’ son, John Jr., who was working 70 hours in the kitchen without getting paid. Well, he was getting free room and board from his parents, who had also taken care of his young son while he was locked up on drug charges. But still, the man needed to earn a living. “There are times I feel like I would have rather stayed in prison,” he told Irvine. It was also obvious that the husband-and-wife owners John Sr., who ran the kitchen, and Butzey, who ran the front of the house, were tired and needed a break.
By the end of the episode, Irvine convinced the couple to change the name from Edibles Restaurant & Pub to Hurley’s American Grille (he noted that this was the first name change in the history of the show), and he spent thousands of dollars overhauling the dining room. He also managed to get John Sr. out from behind the line, allowing the son to take control of the kitchen and earn a paycheck in the process.
As for the food, Irvine (allegedly) improved the restaurant’s cheesesteak (it should be noted that Irvine is British, and any self-respecting Philadelphian would have to be skeptical of a Brit’s cheesesteak-making aptitude, although Irvine’s version certainly looked a whole lot better than the travesty that Edibles had been dishing up) and also taught the kitchen how to use the restaurant’s $20,000 smoker.
Irvine came up with a good-looking $12 smoked half-chicken platter with parmesan crusted fried corn-on-the-cob, homemade barbecue sauce (most of the stuff at Edibles had been coming out of cans) and fries. They’re still serving it two months after Restaurant Impossible finished taping.
I called Hurley’s American Grille to find out how things have been going since Irvine moved on. “We all signed agreements saying we wouldn’t speak to the press about the transformation until five days after the episode first aired,” said the Hurley’s daughter.
But on this update posted on the Restaurant Impossible website the same day the episode aired, the family isn’t exactly raving about the current state of affairs. The Hurley’s nephew says that the “first couple weeks were great” but that bills are now higher due to new staff. And John Sr. says he may be bringing back some of the old menu items that Irvine hated so much.
Below, a preview of the episode, which airs again on Wednesday and Saturday.