Restaurant Impossible - La Stanza - CLOSED

La Stanza Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits La Stanza in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

La Stanza is owned by John Tripodi who bought the restaurant as he believed it would be easier than the construction trade.

He bought the restaurant seven years ago as he thought he would be able to make money easier than the construction trade.

Three years ago the business took a nosedive and John has spent all of his savings, $600,000 to keep the restaurant afloat.

John’s 22 year old daughter Lucia has been running the restaurant for the past two years after dropping out of college.

She has a little bit of restaurant experience as she has been working in restaurants for six years in front of house roles.

It has not been easy since she took over as she isn’t taken seriously as the restaurant manager.

There has been recent controversy with a police raid after a tip off they were serving alcohol to underage customers.

Their monthly expenses are high and Lucia is slacking as manager and John is keeping the restaurant open for her.

They are close to closure and Lucia feels like it is her fauly as she doesn’t know what she is doing.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and he thinks it is a huge space for a restaurant.

He asks to meet with John and Lucia to learn more about the restaurant.

John reveals that the space used to be a parking lot until John thought it was a good idea to turn it into a restaurant.

John reveals that he has no experience in the restaurant business but Lucia does have experience as a food worker but not in restaurant management.

The restaurant hasn’t made any profit in two years and he has invested $600,000 into the restaurant.

Lucia doesn’t know the food costs and thinks people aren’t coming as there is bad feeling in the community about them.

The restaurant was raided by the police due to the suspicion of them serving alcohol to underage customers.

John and a bartender were taken out of the restaurant in handcuffs and it was covered in the local media.

Lucia shows Robert around the restaurant and he is impressed by the dining area.

The banquet hall however is old, dull and dark. It is also filthy and the TV is covered in dust.

Robert wants to sample some of the dishes and finds there are problems with the food.

The sauce for the eggplant is good but the rest of the food that he samples is poor as they are tasteless and bland.

Robert asks Lucia to taste the dishes with him and whilst she thinks they look good she doesn’t think they taste good either.

The pair go into the kitchen to speak with Executive Chef Marco.

He reveals that he works seventy hours a week and has little support or guidance from Lucia.

He says he cares about the business but Robert thinks that he is fed up of how it is being run.

The restaurant opens at 5am each day but Marco says that Lucia starts work whenever she feels like it.

He is given no input into the food costs and is cutting corners trying to help Lucia run the restaurant by saving her money with food costs.

They barely communicate and Robert tells them that this needs to change.

Robert asks to meet with the staff and tells them his plans on the changes he is going to make at the restaurant.

Lucia seems not to realise that Marco is running her restaurant for her.

When they run through the tasks he does before she arrives it turns out he has done almost all the jobs before she even arrives.

It proves that Lucia needs to meet with Marco every day in order to understand the restaurant and Marco will be able to plan the menu.

Robert leaves to meet with Taniya and the rest of the design team.

They are overwhelmed by the size of the restaurant and know that they need to do something to divide the space into two smaller areas.

Robert asks the staff to help empty the dining room of furniture and clutter and he rips down the curtains.

Robert tests Lucia on the cost of their menu and she shows she doesn't know the cost of the ingredients or at what price the menu items should be sold at.

Without her knowing these details she doesn’t even know if she is making a profit or not.

Robert is frustrated by this but part of the issue is due to her father John not giving her the tools to be able to do her job.

Robert checks in with the design team and is impressed with their progress so far.

Next, Robert gets to work by adding new dishes to the menu and teaching the kitchen how to prepare an Italian Tapas menu.

The menu items he has added are Philly Cheese Steak Stromboli, Meatball Tom Toms with Parmesan Cream and Tempura Sardines with Tonnatto Sauce.

Robert is concerned about the repaint of the ceiling as the paint is not taking well to the porous ceiling and you can still see the dark colour underneath.

They have also run out of paint due to the large area that they need to cover.

The next day, Robert reveals that he has made plans with a local television station to broadcast a feature on the restaurant.

Robert checks in with the design team and isn’t happy with the progress that they have made over night.

He is forced to call in reinforcements from John’s construction site as the large space is taking longer to redecorate than planned despite the team working all night.

The TV crew arrive and after some prep Lucia does a great job of promoting the restaurant.

The construction team arrive to help the design team and Robert gives them a pep talk to push them to deliver in time for the deadline.

Robert arranges Lucia and Marco to plan for a daily meeting between them at 12.30 so that they can have better communication.

Robert teaches Lucia how to run the restaurant including pricing the menu and how to manage the staff.

The design team have finished the transformation and it is time to reveal it to John and the family.

They were overwhelmed by the changes and screamed out on joy upon seeing it.

On relaunch night, the dining room is finished in the nick of time and revealed to the owners shortly before opening.

The customers love the new bright decor and the customers love the new menu.

The chefs have their passion for cooking back and the kitchen is running well.



What Happened Next at La Stanza?


Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews since filming were mostly good.

They only kept one of the dishes that Robert added to the menu, reverting back to their old menu.

La Stanza closed in November 2014 and Asian Palace Restaurant opened in its place.

It is an Asian restaurant that is also available as a wedding venue.


La Stanza was Restaurant Impossible season 2 episode 2 and aired on July 13 2011.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

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Next episode - Sweet Tea

This post was last updated in February 2021.

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