Restaurant Impossible - Mainelli's - CLOSED

Mainelli's Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Mainelli's in Providence, Rhode Island.

Mainelli's restaurant is a once popular Italian restaurant owned by Jerry Picaro and staffed by his family.

Jerry purchased the restaurant four years ago after deciding to buy the restaurant.

He wanted to own a restaurant so that he was able to support his family.

Business was initially good and he asked his brother and sister to come work at the restaurant.

On a good night they were able to make £2500-£3000 but they are now losing $11,000 each month.

The problems started small but they mounted and now the gas company has been to shut the gas off.

Jerry has never paid himself a salary and if they lose the restaurant they will lose their house as they live above the restaurant.

Robert arrives and finds that the signage is confusing as someone has painted CLOSED on it in big red letters.

Anyone driving past would assume that the restaurant was shut and it would confuse potential customers.

Robert meets with Jerry to learn more about the problems at the restaurant.

Jerry says that he thinks their biggest problem is that they did close temporarily nine months ago.

They closed for around a month before reopening and there was an article in the local paper announcing their closure.

The locals got the impression that they had closed permanently.

They have failed to get the message out that they are still open as they don’t have the funds for advertising.

Jerry tells him that the gas company had been in the day before trying to cut off the gas.

He was able to give them a little money to stop them cut off the gas as a temporary measure.

Jerry thinks that the restaurant will be closed in three weeks and he will lose his house.

Robert promises he will do everything he can to avoid that happening.

He thinks that the Senate dining room looks outdated with the dark ceiling.

It makes the room look smaller and like the ceiling is closing in.

The decor doesn’t match with the funky tables, that are painted in different bright colours.

Robert meets the staff and is introduced to everyone.

He meets Tina, Jerry’s daughter, who helps out when she can and Jerry’s grandson Joey is a dishwasher.

Robert wants to find the problems and surprises the staff with a bus full of customers.

The service is slow and there are out of almost everything on the large menu.

It is embarrassing not to have spaghetti, Fettuccine, pork chops, and chicken in an Italian restaurant.

The tables are also not clean and many customers are sat at dirty tables.

After seeing the service in the dining room he goes into the kitchen.

Tracy is overwhelmed and tells Robert that she used to have another cook that helped her but she quit.

The kitchen is filthy and there is 9 day old eggplant and fresh pasta stored at room temperature.

Robert is concerned due to the food safety issues and thinks they are doing more damage and he shuts down the kitchen.

Robert calls the staff together for a meeting to discuss the various issues at the restaurant.

The issues are Jerry, the big menu, lack of kitchen staff, front of house issues, the decor and the negative press.

Robert wants to start with the menu and plans to make a new menu so he asks Jerry to choose just four dishes.

He asks Tracy to make the four dishes he wants to keep and he will make his own versions of the dishes.

Robert wants to make dramatic changes to the decor and meets with designer Vanessa.

A customer arrives who has booked a surprise birthday but due to lack of organisation they had failed to cancel the reservation.

Back in the kitchen, Robert learns that Tracy has not had formal culinary training and learnt whilst working at the restaurant.

They used to have a chef who taught her everything she knows and whilst she lacks the skills, she has the drive to be a good chef.

Unfortunately her food is inedible and this is why they are losing customers.

Robert wants to show her how to prepare some dishes but notices that they have no ingredients.

It is revealed that Joey makes all the sauces and they have no produce as they have no money.

Tracy reveals that she goes to the store to get ingredients each day and is using her savings to pay for them.

Robert has to make the decision to remove some money from the design budget to pay for produce.

Robert resorts to rescuing the tables from the skip to save $3000 from the design budget.

He is going to spend $3000 on meat, produce and staple ingredients so they can prepare the new menu.

Robert visits a local newspaper that published a negative article with food samples in the hopes that they will publish another article.

He meets with the editor Gail, who is surprised that they are still open and asks her to write an article on the relaunch.

The produce that Robert ordered earlier arrives and they remove the boxes from the truck.

Robert checks in with Vanessa and they have decided to spray paint and reupholster the chairs and change the floor.

The next day, Robert checks in with the design team and encourages her to meet the deadline.

The food they sent to the newspaper was a good call and they have published a great article about the restaurant.

Robert goes into the kitchen to teach Tracy some basic kitchen hygiene.

Tracy can’t handle the kitchen alone and as Joey has a passion for cooking and hates being a pot washer he is going to assist in the kitchen.

Robert shows them how to prepare the top four dishes and simple foods including pizza and garlic bread.

Next, he works with the servers to learn how to improve the service.

Robert removes the sign out the front of the restaurant so that potential customers are no longer confused and think that the restaurant is closed.

On relaunch night, editor Gail is in the restaurant and the staff are holding up with the pressure of the relaunch at first until it gets to Tracy and the kitchen backs up.

Robert heavily praises her for the service and surpass his expectations. The customers love the food, praise the new food and improvement and are placing reservations to return.



What Happened Next at Mainelli's?


Reviews after Robert's visit were good.

Mainelli's closed in January 2012.

Not long after the episode was aired a car went through the side of the building forcing the restaurant to close to be able to repair the damage.

The owners said that they may open in a new location at a later date but this so far has not happened.

The restaurant was sold at auction on 10th September 2013. Reviews for the restaurant were good on Yelp before and after Robert visited the restaurant.

Mainelli's was Restaurant Impossible season 1 episode 2 and aired on January 26 2011.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

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Next episode - Rascal's BBQ and Crab House

This post was last updated in February 2021.

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