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Restaurant Impossible - University Grill - CLOSED

University Grill Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits University Grill in Burlington, North Carolina.

University Grill was opened by siblings Eleni,George and Manny in order to support their parents financially in their retirement.

The restaurant had been open for 5 years and everything was hand built and the opening came at a cost of $500,000.

Eleni and her parents currently owe the bank close to $300,000 and George had invested his time rather than money in the first few years.

The constant squabbling between the siblings led to George having to step away from the restaurant and he now only helps out on days off.

Their father is suffering from dementia and the restaurant is declining.

Robert arrives and the first impressions is that it looks like a factory and is very uninviting. Inside he thinks it looks clinically clean.

Robert observes a service and the customers don't think the restaurant has a personality and the food has issues including a buffet at an incorrect temperature.

He samples the food and finds that the salmon is frozen, the steak is unseasoned, the brocoli is overcooked and the casserole is over floured.

There are multiple problems Robert has to deal with including owner stubbornness with Eleni refusing to accept Robert's criticism and serious food safety issues.

Robert meets with the design team who have lowered the bar and the pale yellow walls are repainted.

The family meet and Eleni tells her brothers that she wants more time to spend time with her children and the brothers will spend more time in the restaurant.

They will hire trustworthy staff to run the restaurant. However, Eleni struggles to give up control of the restaurant.

The outside of the restaurant is painted with a colourful mural to draw attention to the restaurant.

Robert meets with the owners and cook Rich who tells Robert that he cooks whatever he is told to cook.

Rich shows Robert all of the bad practices of the kitchen that he is asked to do every day and the issues he has with the food including the huge menu and reheating of food.

Robert decides to remove Eleni from the kitchen due to the bad practises and shows Rich the new menu using fresh ingredients.

The owners go to the nearby university to speak to marketing students to help promote the restaurant to the students.

George is assigned as General Manager and the remaining tasks are divided between the owners with Eleni agreeing to take two days off per week.

The owners love the new exterior and interior decor. They love the new booths and bar.

On relaunch, the customers love the new modern decor and the new food and the relaunch was a success.


What Happened Next at University Grill?

After Robert visited, Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews were mixed and it appears that the restaurant went down hill in 2013 with a decline in food quality and service.

Robert revisited and sales were reported to be up 15% with the salmon dish proving popular with customers.

University Grill closed in June 2013 and was sold so that the owners could spend more time with their family.


Recipes in this episode

Lamb Poppers

Pan Seared Salmon and Haricot Verts Potato Salad

Spiced Aioli


University Grill was Restaurant Impossible season 3 episode 11 and aired on May 23 2012.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Previous episode - Ristorante Barolo

Next episode - Pollard's Bar-B-Que

This post was last updated in March 2020.


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