We’ve all been there.  That restaurant or store that we wonder how (or why) in the world it’s still open and leave vowing never to come back.  The nasty and horrible bathrooms we find in public.  And the dishes at sit-down restaurants where you’re pretty sure the chef’s last name is Boyardee.

Chef Robert Irvine is on a mission to help via his Food Network television show Restaurant: Impossible.  Each episode, Irvine travels to a restaurant in dire straits.  Most of the restaurants haven’t made a profit in months, if not years.  Customers often aren’t returning because of issues with either the food or the menu, sometimes a combination that causes problems.  (Last night’s episode featured a restaurant that had too many menus with too many options that caused delays in service, in addition to unappetizing dishes.)  Decor is often problematic or out-dated and needs fixing.  Often ownership and management is an issue as well.  (Last night’s owner “micro managed” and had to learn to trust his chefs of well-over 25 years to get the job done as well as him.)

My husband and I aren’t cooking show fans, so it’s interesting that several of our favorite shows to watch are on Food Network.  It used to be that if it was a “cooking show”, that’s all they did and it was ultra-boring.  This show and others (Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives for example) give you a look at more of the ins and outs of cooking and restaurant ownership.  Anthony and I have even developed our own concept for a diner and love taking notes from shows like these.

One of the blessings or benefits of his show, if you ask me, is that Irvine really and truly wants them to succeed and do better.  I get the distinct impression that failing or floundering restaurants break his heart.  He sees the owners putting their heart into the restaurants and dishes and then it just not working.  Fortunately for them, Irvine shows up with his know-how and help in addition to $10 thousand.  He concentrates on the kitchen and menu items, while his two design assistants lend their talent to the front of house.  It’s really inspiring and uplifting to see what they accomplish in the two days and the joy on the owners faces at the success of the mission!

So what are some things that bring you back to a restuarant over and over?  What kind of things are sure to have you out the door permanently?