Restaurant Impossible - The Trails Eatery - OPEN

The Trails Eatery Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits The Trails Eatery in San Diego, California

The Trails Eatery is owned by a father and daughter team Stacey Poon-Kinney and her father Larry and run by Stacey.

Four years ago, Stacey and her dad Larry decided to get into the restaurant business.

She decided to buy a restaurant because she was looking for a change after working with a corporate restaurant for about eight years.

She thought buying it would be an excellent thing for the family and she could also have more time with her children.

Her dad tried to talk her out of buying the restaurant but Stacey went ahead with the purchase.

Larry was left without any choice other than to join her daughter.

Initially $235,000 was put into the business by Larry and they were doing well and decided to expand the restaurant.

To cover the expansion cost, her dad took out a second mortgage on his home for about $275,000.

The expansion has put them into serious debt as Stacey is behind on the rent and other bills.

The worst thing for her is not knowing when she will be able to repay her father so that he can retire.

Larry currently helps out in the restaurant to help Stacey out.

Robert arrives and notices that the restaurant is pretty clean.

He thinks the restaurant is going to be a unique challenge as at first glance he can’t see anything wrong with the restaurant.

He meets with Stacey to hear more about the restaurant.

Stacey tells Robert that she bought the restaurant four years ago for $225,000.

This shocks Robert as he can’t see how the value of the restaurant is more than around $25,000.

They also don’t own the building so they don’t have that security for the business.

When they first opened they have just 38 seats available for diners but after the expansion they could serve up to 83 diners.

In total, they have invested around $600,000 in the restaurant and are currently losing $5000 a month.

Stacey is under a lot of pressure as the funds for the restaurant are coming from her fathers retirement fund and she is eager to pay him back.

The restaurant is currently only open for breakfast and lunch.

They tried to start a dinner service but after nine months they decided it wasn’t viable to continue.

Robert wants to observe a service and is surprised by some things he sees.

He notices that the prices are priced far too low and they are making no profit or more likely they could be making a loss on some dishes.

Robert orders some dishes and looks out the back of the restaurant and sees the servers running from one end of the room to the other.

The kitchen is also set up incorrectly so the cooks aren’t able to cook efficiently.

Roberts food arrives and he actually enjoys the food and doesn’t think he needs to do much in this area.

He feels the issue is that the revenue generated from the food he ate would not cover the cost of the ingredients.

Robert speaks with Stacey about this as a concern and she admits it is challenging as she is not able to pay herself a wage.

The restaurant likely has just one more month before it would be forced to close.

Robert doesn’t feel that the restaurant can survive on just a breakfast and lunch service and wants to also open for dinner.

He wants the Lisa and the kitchen staff to handle the dinner service and meets with the staff to lay out his plans.

Robert meets with Taniya and the design team to come up with a plan for the restaurant.

The staff help empty the restaurant so that the transformation can get underway.

Robert meets with the kitchen to try and create a dinner menu for Lisa with some suggestions for new dishes that will go on it.

Lisa enjoyed the session and felt like she has learnt a lot from Robert.

Robert meets with Stacey to discuss some of the financials. He tells her that by changing the recipes they can make $36,000 from their top four selling items.

As Robert goes to leave for the day he is ambushed by Stacey and Lisa.

They tell Robert that they don’t want to open for dinner as they have tried and failed at it before.

The pair also want to be able to have the time to spend with their families away from the restaurant.

Robert listens to their concerns and gives them homework to go home and think about their decision.

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

He is impressed with how much they have done so far and encourages them to keep up the good work to be finished in time for the relaunch.

Robert meets up with Stacey to discuss their reluctance to restart the dinner service at the restaurant.

As a compromise Robert suggests that they start the dinner service on two evenings a week rather than every day of the week.

She agrees to this and Robert has made some calls to the local radio stations to get the word out to locals.

Robert also pitches the idea of two evening services a week to Lisa and she also agrees to this.

Robert leaves to head to a local radio station to put the word out about the dinner service planned for the restaurant.

When he returns he rearranges the kitchen so that food can be prepared more efficiently.

He also meets with the staff and briefly trains them in just 20 minutes before the service is due to get underway.

The restaurant is revealed to the owners but the transformation isn’t a big one, there is a fresh coat of paint and other subtle changes.

The relaunch night is a success with customers enjoying the new atmosphere and the new food on offer.

They also promoted the restaurant on a local radio station.



What Happened Next at The Trails Eatery?


Shortly after the show aired they reported that business was up 80% and there is often a queue at breakfast.

Their revenue has tripled over the last 5 years.

They continue to get customers come to the restaurant who have seen the episode on reruns.

In 2017, they were forced to discontinue the dinner service as they were only breaking even.

This was due to increased staffing costs following a raise in minimum wage in the state.

Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews are mostly good since Robert visited.

Some of the decor had to be changed following a flood in the restaurant.

Owner Stacey Poon-Kinney appeared on Food Network show "Next Food Network Star" finishing in fourth place.

The Trails Eatery was Restaurant Impossible season 2 episode 10 and was aired on September 211 2011.

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This post was last updated in February 2021.

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