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 and is losing $6-8000 per month with Feather relying on credit cards and family to survive as they have been unable to pay themselves.

They purchased the restaurant 18 years ago as Feather was the manager, working her way up from a bartender and Tricia was doing the books, so they knew it was making money and paid $350,000 for the business.

In the present day, the restaurant has seen a huge drop off of customers and has been declining for 10 years and more so since the economic crisis in 2008 and they are losing $6-10,000 per month.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and finds the decor dated and stuck in the past. The old curtains make the restaurant dark and gloomy.

He meets the owners and questions Feather on prime beef and she gets the answer wrong and is defensive.

They were making 1.1 million turnover in the glory days of the restaurant but they haven't been able to pay themselves for 6 months.

Tricia tells Robert that their biggest problem was that new competition opened up with 30 new restaurants popping up and they lost 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 anyone a menu and are only taking drink orders.

The staff also don't know the menu and fail to explain the specials to customers and the customers are left waiting for food.

The customers aren't impressed when they receive the food with poorly tasting dishes including tasteless steaks, dishes smothered in cheese and shrimp dishes tasting too fishy.

Robert finds that the kitchen is poorly organised for cooking food and Robert is given a cold service from Dana whilst he orders from the menu.

He 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.

Feather is defensive of Robert's criticism and has an answer for everything Robert says to her. She struggles to accept that she is causing problems.

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 and 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, a prime cut versus a cheaper choice steak and with correctly seasoning a cheaper steak can taste as good. This change will save them $10,000 per year.

A staff meeting reveals that the staff fight constantly and there is no 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 unsealed concrete so 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 as it is a popular southern dish and others in the area don't serve it.

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.

Recipes in this episode

Catfish Sandwich with Remoulade

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

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Previous episode - Del's Restaurant

Next episode - Valley View

This post was last updated in February 2020.

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