Restaurant Impossible - Villari's - CLOSED

Villari's Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine visits Villari's in Palmyra, New Jersey.

Villari's is owned by Paul Villari III and the restaurant was opened by his grandfather in 1948.

The restaurant was later passed to his father, who also had great success from the restaurant.

Paul took over the restaurant 15 years ago and their regular customers have dwindled and are not being replaced by new ones.

They have dwindled as their customer base is the elderly and they are sadly dying off.

They once served over a thousand customers a week but nowadays they are lucky to serve a few hundred.

The restaurant has not made a profit in two years and Paul is no longer able to pay himself.

Paul spends 20 hours, 7 days at a week at the restaurant and his mother Helen is hoping that the restaurant can be restored to it's former glory.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and Paul tells him that he had two customers in for dinner.

He also tells him that he is no longer paying himself a salary and doesn’t know what to do to make the restaurant successful again as he has tried everything.

Robert reveals that first impressions are terrible, the walls, carpets and ceiling are filthy, there is a foul smell and there is nothing to attract younger clientele.

He removes the neon lights, the wall of signs and the artificial flowers.

Robert asks for the staff to meet and discuss the restaurant.

He isn’t impressed by their uniform, in particular their tshirt and tells them that they have become complacent with the dirty restaurant.

The kitchen staff reveal that their isn’t an Executive chef in the kitchen, despite having a large menu.

Paul admits that they don’t have a chef as he struggles to be able to pay them the salary they want.

Robert tells him that there is no way that a restaurant can serve consistent food without an Executive Chef in the kitchen.

To prove the point he asks the cooks to all prepare the same dish from the menu.

Each dish comes out different from each other as they are prepared by different cooks.

Robert wants to promote Justin but his priority is his real estate career.

Robert asks to see the menu and it is a long menu that appears quite corporate and there is also a bar menu that was aimed at the younger clientele.

He feels that the menu is too big, especially without an Executive chef to take the lead in the kitchen.

Robert meets with designers Fadi and Michelle to discuss the transformation of the restaurant.

Paul is concerned about the history of the restaurant being lost but Robert reassures him that they will respect the heritage of the restaurant.

Robert asks the staff to help empty the restaurant ready for the design team to get to work.

They get to work by ripping up the carpet and removing the hostess stand.

Robert wants to address the menu first and asks the cooks to cook all of the dishes with no labels on what dish is what.

He asks the staff to identify the dishes and explain how they are prepared.

The staff are unable to identify the dishes or how they have been prepared in the kitchen.

The issue is the menu, it is too big and the kitchen can’t prepare all of the dishes and the servers can’t learn all of the dishes.

Robert decides to remove some of the dishes that aren’t selling with immediate effect.

Robert checks in with the design team to see how the transformation is going and is impressed with their progress.

Robert doesn’t want Paul in the kitchen anymore, he doesn’t want to cook anymore and he should be the manager of the restaurant.

He promises to find a replacement for him in the kitchen and will audition four chefs the next day and choose an Executive Chef.

The next day, Robert arrives and checks in with the design team.

He isn't happy with the chairs, the paint job is sloppy and the paint is wet.

Robert loves the mural of the family that cost just $200 and the walls have been painted in a light tone and carpet tiles are installed.

Robert auditions 4 local chefs for the Executive Chef position by giving them an hour to cook a menu of three dishes.

Robert and Paul chose Michael, who then turned down the position.

This led to a dash after Christina who had already left the restaurant and she accepts the position.

Robert’s next task is to cut down the old menu to a new menu of just fifteen dishes that is a mix of old updated dishes and new items.

The new menu items are Clams Casino, She Crab Soup and Eggplant Cannelloni.

Back in the dining room there aren’t enough chairs ready so Robert is forced to hire extra chairs for the relaunch.

Standards start off poor as wine glasses are found to have marks on them and time is running out for the relaunch.

The transformed restaurant is revealed and the family love the new look of the restaurant.

On relaunch night, the kitchen is in chaos as the orders pour in and the serving staff struggle to keep up.

The guests love the new food but one customer is the victim of wet paint!

The relaunch is a success and the customers are happy.



What Happened Next at Villari's?


Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews since filming were mostly poor, with complaints of overpriced beer and poor service.

They kept Robert's new menu for just 60 days after his visit before returning to their previous menu.

They claimed that the show did not bring enough custom from the publicity of being featured on the show.

They aslo say that customers wanted the old menu back preferring more simple food and lower prices.

They changed the name to Jerseys Pub 73, under the same ownership but Villari's closed in May 2015.


Villari's was Restaurant Impossible season 1 episode 1 and aired January 19 2011.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Next episode - Mainelli's

This post was last updated in February 2021.

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