Restaurant Impossible - County Fare - CLOSED

County Fare Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits County Fare in Stafford, Virginia.

County Fare is owned by former US Marine chef Eric Green and his wife Lizann.

He was in the Marine Corp for 18 years and used to feeding 7000 marines two meals a day.

They have owned the restaurant for five and a half years but have never paid themselves a paycheck.

Serving meals is a big morale booster for him as he enjoys speaking with customers and getting their feedback on their meal.

Lizann has supported Eric in his wish to open a restaurant and they have both taken a big risk on opening the restaurant.

They are currently in $520,000 of debt due to the restaurant.

The restaurant is open seven days a week but Eric hasn’t got professional training as a chef.

In the five years of operating they have only had one month where they made a profit.

The couple has been surviving from Lizann’s pay from her job as a nurse and Eric’s retirement package.

Lizann has found it hard to see her husband struggle but they are now struggling to pay their bills.

Eric has also used all of his savings and refinanced their house to support the restaurant.

He is at risk of losing his house if he loses the restaurant and they have around four months before they would be forced to close.

The electric company wanted to turn off the power and vendors are insisting that he pay in cash.

Robert decides to launch a surprise attack and enters through the back door.

The first thing that hits him is a foul smell, there are flies and a rack of disgusting, stinking mops.

There are potatoes, onions and kitchen utensils stored next to highly toxic cleaning products.

There are other health violations such as bacon sat on a hot sink unit.

Robert meets with Eric to discuss the restaurant.

Eric had a vision to provide quality food at a reasonable price and put his house up as collateral.

He hasn’t paid himself once since the restaurant opened.

Robert asks Eric to show him around the restaurant and he thinks the decor is underwhelming.

The colours are drab and the only redeeming quality is his memorabilia from his time in the marines.

Robert samples the food and finds the biscuit rock hard, the baloney isn't cooked in the middle and the breakfast in a cup is very salty.

Eric reveals that he lost his smell and taste buds due to the oil fires when he served in Kuwait so he is unable to smell or taste his food.

Robert inspects the kitchen and finds that it is a mess.

He finds caked on grease on the kitchen equipment, enough grease to violate the fire code and a poorly thought out kitchen layout.

Robert asks the staff to meet in the dining area and he lays out his plans to fix the restaurant.

He asks the chefs to discuss the arrangement of the kitchen equipment and how it can be more practical and link with the front of house.

They put the ideas into practice and rearrange the kitchen to improve the way they work back there.

As they are moving the equipment it is also an opportunity to deep clean around the equipment.

Robert meets with the designer Krista and they discuss making it an American themed diner.

Robert calls on the staff to help empty the restaurant ready for the design team to be able to get to work.

There is a lot of work to be done especially as there are lots of booths in the restaurant that need to be given a new look.

Robert meets with Executive Chef Cynthia and the two other young cooks to work on the menu.

Robert teaches them some simple dishes that would be perfect in the diner including a Reuben burger and Apple pie.

They sample the dishes and love the taste and the session gives them a confidence boost.

He gives them a list of the recipes to take home so that they can go over them and practice what they learned.

Robert checks in with the design team but isn’t sure if they are going far enough creatively and encourages them to go bigger.

Robert finds Cynthia moaning to Eric as she is second guessing the changes that are being made and she admits that she has lost motivation.

Robert tells Eric that she needs support and it should be him that is providing it.

The next day, Robert first goes to check with the design team and although they aren’t there he is impressed with their work so far.

The kitchen staff are trained on making the dishes that Robert had shown them the previous day, there are a few mistakes at first.

As Eric has no taste and smell they are going to need someone to taste the food for quality purposes.

The staff are tested by tasting three different items and identifying them.

Cynthia wins the ingredient taste test and is announced as the official food taster.

She is weary about the responsibility but Robert thinks she needs a confidence boost and gives her an uplifting pep talk.

Robert wants to work on marketing on the restaurant and introduces the idea of a pie eating competition.

If the customers finishes the pie in five minutes the meal is free and they get a picture and name on the wall of fame and if they don’t finish they pay for the pie.

They work until the last minute on redecorating the dining room and the owners love it.

On relaunch night, the customers love the new look diner.

Cynthia is overwhelmed in the kitchen and struggles to communicate but steps up after a pep talk from Robert and does a great job.

The customers love the new food, new decor and the locals give great feedback and promise to return to the restaurant.



What Happened Next at County Fare?


After the show aired, owner Eric Green reported business improved for one month.

He says that then sales dropped and they had 2 of their worst months in 3 years.

Yelp reviews after filming were mostly average to poor with many claiming that the restaurant was unexpectedly closed when they tried to visit.

County Fare closed in October 2011, 6 months after the show aired as the changes came too late.

It was briefly reopened by a new owner in January 2012 as County Cafe.

The reviews of County Cafe were good but it closed after less than a year.

In 2013, Smoke Pit Cafe opened and reviews are good.


County Fare was Restaurant Impossible season 2 episode 4 and aired on July 27 2011.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

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This post was last updated in February 2021.

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