Restaurant Impossible - The Mad Cactus - CLOSED

The Mad Cactus Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits The Mad Cactus in Strongsville, Ohio.

The Mad Cactus is a Mexican themed restaurant that is owned by Tom Krukemeyer Sr.

Tom has owned the restaurant for over 25 years after becoming a partner at the restaurant when he was 22 years old.

The previous owner had asked him to come on as a partner and it became a great success.

Due to the success of the restaurant Tom decided to buy the restaurant.

The restaurant continued to be a great success for many years after he bought the restaurant.

They were a success because there was little competition in the town.

When they first opened there was just four restaurants in the area and there are now close to seventy.

They are failing to compete with other restaurants and the restaurant hasn’t made a profit in three years.

Every month the restaurant loses thousands of dollars and they are now close to closing.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and immediately notices the tacky decorations and that the carpet smells disgusting.

He meets with Tom to discuss the restaurant and he thinks that the issue is himself suffering from owners disease and getting complacent about the business.

They were successful for the first four years but he thinks that running the restaurant for more than 25 years has taken its toll on him.

His food costs are out of control and he has no reason why the costs are so high or what is causing it.

The restaurant had a general manager for twenty years but she was offered another position and decided to move on.

As the restaurant was struggling financially he could not afford to hire another general manager.

Robert wants to see a service at the restaurant so that he can see what the issues are at the restaurant.

Customers aren’t impressed with the food and the service needs improvements too.

Robert wants to sample the food to see any issues and he wasn’t impressed with the food at all.

Tom is reluctant for Robert to speak to the staff but he calls a staff meeting.

He discovers that the food quality is different in the day to the evening and there is a lack of management.

Robert sets a plan of action to work on Tom's management skills, a fresh new menu and decor and to introduce a general manager.

Robert meets with designer Yvette and the rest of the design team with discussions on making the space warm and inviting.

Robert asks Tom and the staff to help remove the furniture out of the dining room so that they can start the transformation.

He goes into the kitchen as she wants to address the cooks on why they are putting out different foods.

Robert was told by the staff that the food Steven produces in the evening service is different to the food that Michelle produces during the day service.

Robert asks them both to prepare the same dish and neither makes the dish from scratch.

They both serve the same food from the hot plate.

This explains the issue as the food is made during the day and put on the hot plate to keep hot for the evening service.

The food is better during the day as it is served fresh and by the evening service it will have been sitting there for six to seven hours.

This is the biggest issue at the restaurant as by the time it is reheated it has lost all of its flavour and for some dishes it will have dried out.

Robert needs to make sure that they can actually cook before he introduces a new menu.

He asks Tom and the chefs to create a dish from scratch, with no prepped food to be used.

Whilst they are working on that he checks in with the design team and he is pleased with their plans and progress so far.

Back in the kitchen the two chefs have made dishes from scratch but Tom has used some prepped ingredients to make his.

He was impressed with the two dishes that the chefs prepared from scratch for him to sample.

Before the end of the day Robert asks to speak to Tom and tells him that he needs to hire a new General Manager as he is not fit for the task.

Robert calls the staff for a meeting and reveals a surprise guest, their old general manager Christy.

She won’t be returning to work at the restaurant but she will be helping to choose a new general manager from their existing pool of managers.

The next day, Robert checks in with the design team and isn’t impressed with their progress as the floor has not yet been completed.

He encourages them to speed up to be finished in time for the relaunch night.

In the kitchen, Robert reveals to the chefs that they will be cooking fresh for both the day and evening services.

He shows them how to prepare fresh foods that are fast to prepare on the line during the service.

Both chefs feel refreshed and confident for the relaunch after their session with Robert.

Robert returns to check with Yvette, who is working on a mosaic wall for the buffet area.

After speaking with Christy, he decides to proceed with interviewing the three candidates that she has suggested.

Tom and Christy discuss the pros and cons of each candidate and come to a surprising decision.

They didn’t feel that any of the candidates could be effective as they had been friends for so long so Tom would take on this role.

Tom feels it is time to reveal the new general manager but Robert doesn’t agree with their decision.

Finally Robert tells Tom that he has printed his sales records and his system has been failing and he is selling at a loss.

To fix the problems he has created a new menu with a 33% profit margin after labour, food and overhead costs.

The design team have finished and the transformation is revealed to the new owners, who are overwhelmed by the changes.

There is new wooden flooring, a new hostess stand and a salsa bar is also added.

The relaunch is a success and the customers love the decor, the new food cooked fresh to order and promise to return.



What Happened Next at The Mad Cactus?


After Robert visited, Tom claims that Robert was constantly losing his temper at him, his staff and the production team throughout and branded him a hot head.

He claimed that some scenes shown in the episode were set up and from online reviews it appears the Donkey was retrieved from the trash after Robert threw it out.

Business was initially up 20% and the new interior including the salsa bar has gone down well with the customers.

It appears that they went back to their old menu bringing back the lunch time buffet and the steak, taco and wing offers but kept the puffy tacos.

Both Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews after Robert visited are mostly poor with complaints of poor food standards.

The Mad Cactus closed on 21 July 2013 as a number of chain restaurants were due to move into the immediate area.


The Mad Cactus was Restaurant Impossible season 2 episode 12 and aired on November 02 2011.

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Next episode - McShane's

This post was last updated in February 2021.

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