Restaurant Impossible - Woody's Tupelo Steakhouse - OPEN

Woody's Tupelo Steakhouse

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Woody's Tupelo Steakhouse in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Woody's Tupelo Steakhouse was a once bustling joint and in it's glory days served the King himself, Elvis and Joan Crawford.

The restaurant is owned by Feather Burns and her mother Tricia.

Woody's is losing $6-8000 per month with Feather relying on credit cards and family to survive.

Since the decline in customers they have been unable to pay themselves.

They purchased the restaurant 18 years ago as Feather was the manager.

Feather worked her way up from a bartender and Tricia was doing the books.

They knew the restaurant was making money and when it came up for sale they paid $350,000 for the business.

The restaurant was busy and they made profit for the first 10 years.

In the present day, the restaurant has seen a huge drop off of customers as it has been declining for 10 years.

They have gone from serving 100 plus on the weekends to struggling to fill 25 seats at the weekend.

Business has declined rapidly since the economic crisis in 2008 and they are losing $6-10,000 per month.

They have got second mortgages on their homes in order to be able to put money into the restaurant.

Feather feels bad for having to ask her mother for more money in order to keep the restaurant open.

Tricia has given Feather all of her life savings.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and finds the decor dated and stuck in the past.

The old curtains and drapes make the restaurant look dark and gloomy.

He meets the owners and finds out they are a certified Angus steakhouse.

He questions Feather about her knowledge of the beef and she gets the answer wrong and is defensive.

They were making $1.1 million turnover in the glory days of the restaurant.

They are now losing money and haven't been able to pay themselves for 6 months.

Tricia tells Robert that their biggest problem is that new competition has opened in the local area.

There are now 30 new restaurants that have opened and they have lost a lot of business to them.

Robert invites guests so that he is able to see the restaurant in action and the service is terrible.

The servers haven't given any of the customers a menu and are only taking drink orders.

The staff also don't know the menu and fail to explain the specials to customers.

The customers are also left waiting for their food for a long time.

The customers aren't impressed when they receive the food as the dishes are poor.

There are many complaints including those of tasteless steaks, dishes smothered in cheese and shrimp dishes tasting too fishy.

Robert finds that the kitchen is poorly organised for cooking food as they have to walk up and down to get to the fridge.

Robert is given a cold service from Dana whilst he orders from the menu.

Robert isn't impressed with the bottle dressing in his table side caesar salad.

The wall paper paste tasting fried green tomatoes and the tough steak aren't much better.

Feather is defensive of Robert's criticism and has an answer for everything Robert says to her.

She struggles to accept that she is the one causing the problems at the restaurant.

They have been spending an outstanding $1000 a month on tablecloths to protect and cover their padded tables despite losing thousands each month!

Designer Nicole reveals that she will struggle with the padded tables.

Robert wants to get rid of the tablecloths and wants something new and fresh for the town.

Robert does a blind taste test of steaks using a prime cut versus a cheaper choice steak.

He shows them that with correctly seasoning a cheaper steak can taste as good.

This change will save them $10,000 per year in costs.

A staff meeting reveals that the staff fight constantly amongst themselves during service.

The staff think that there is no leadership, organisation, procedures, schedule or assigned stations.

Robert introduces a procedure that Feather reads them to the staff and the kitchen reorganisation is revealed.

The new tabletops arrive and are slabs of unsealed concrete.

They can't be used in the restaurant in their current state and they can't open without tables.

Tom also struggles to cut the tabletops and they must all be sealed prior to use with hours to spare before the reopening.

Robert works with Geoffrey to redesign the Woody's website and it is revealed to Feather.

Robert reveals that they are going to serve a Catfish Sandwich with Remoulade as it is a popular southern dish and others in the area don't serve it.

They also won't be doing the tableside salads anymore.

The new restaurant is revealed to Feather and Tricia and they love the new decor.

On relaunch night, the customers love the new decor and the food goes out slowly as the servers struggle to keep up.

The staff pull it together and the customers love the new food with the catfish and the new steak impressing the diners.



What Happened Next at Woody's Tupelo Steakhouse?


Four months later, sales are up 30%, two people have been fired and with servers being responsible for small sections has led to better service.

Since Robert visited the reviews on both Yelp and Trip Advisor are mostly excellent with the odd average or poor review.

The excellent reviews highlight both the excellent food and service.

Woody's Tupelo Steakhouse was Restaurant Impossible season 3 episode 5 and aired on March 07 2012.

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Previous episode - Del's Restaurant

Next episode - Valley View

This post was last updated in April 2021.

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