Restaurant Impossible - Dinner Bell Restaurant - CLOSED

Dinner Bell Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine visits the Dinner Bell Restaurant, in Madison, Tennessee, Texas.

Dinner Bell Restaurant is owned by Tommy and his wife Allison, who opened the restaurant four and a half years ago.

Tommy had high hopes for the restaurant as he had run a successful restaurant in the past so he didn’t think this restaurant would be any different.

For the first three and a half years the restaurant was a great success. It was so successful that Tommy decided to open a second restaurant.

Allison wasn’t keen on opening a second restaurant but Tommy went ahead and opened it.

Opening and running the second restaurant took a lot of Tommy’s time and energy and as a result the first restaurant began to suffer.

Seven months after the new restaurant opened, they were forced to close it.

The restaurant had cost them a lot of money and the damage to the Dinner Bell was done and they had lost loyal customers.

After the closure of the restaurant Tommy took a knock to his confidence and with the financial troubles it is affecting the restaurant and family life.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and thinks the dining room tables are bland and the chairs look like they have seen better days.

The chairs are all different colours and a mismatch and the service station looks boring.

Robert meets with Tommy who tells him that he paid $70,000 for the restaurant and lost $75,000 on the second restaurant.

The financial situation is so dire that he had told the staff he was closing the restaurant, it was only as the show called that he remained open and if it closes he will lose the home for his young son.

Tommy is willing to give his all to make the restaurant work as he doesn’t want for it to close.

Robert asks to observe a service to see the restaurant in action. He was not impressed with the service and described the situation at the restaurant as desperate.

The customers feel that the restaurant is more like a cafeteria and Robert catches a server dropping an ice scoop on the floor and carrying on using it to serve ice.

Robert tells her that she needs to empty the ice and wash her hands but asks if she could serve the drink to the customer.

He isn’t impressed with the food that he tastes, he thinks that the meatloaf tastes like dog food and he says there is nothing good on the table.

Robert asks Tommy to taste the food and he thinks it is okay. He also thinks that the service is good and is in denial about the restaurant.

Tommy vents and makes several offhand threats and says he will take Robert out back so Robert decides to go out the back, into the kitchen.

In the kitchen the food is stored incorrectly. There is a bag of chicken sitting in blood and the fridge is moldy.

The restaurant had not been cleaned for 6-8 months and it was hazardous. Robert told them to remove all the kitchen equipment and deep clean it before he could cook in there.

Robert meets with designer Krista and they discuss plans for the renovations of the restaurant.

He asks the staff to help clear out the restaurant so that she can get to work on the restaurant.

The sight of the empty restaurant is overwhelming for Alisson but she is optimistic about the experience.

Whilst the renovation is underway Robert makes plans to help the staff with issues at the restaurant but first, he needs to find out what they are.

The staff are given a container and an orange. They are to put the orange in the container of the person who is a problem at the restaurant.

Tommy was given most of the oranges due to his poor leadership. Robert tells him that he needs to be a better leader and be open to change.

Before the end of the day, Robert checks in with designer Krista and is impressed with her ideas and the progress so far.

The next day, Robert returns and firstly wants to check on the progress of Krista and the design team and he is impressed.

The kitchen has been cleaned overnight and after 12 hours of cleaning it is sparkling clean and is now safe to be cooked in.

The fridge is clean and the food is correctly stored and organized in both the fridge and freezer.

The menu prices are low and Robert goes through the expenses with Tommy and shows him why he is losing so much money.

Robert has planned a new menu with the costs scrutinized and he shows Tommy how to cost the dishes to be able to turn a profit.

He gets to work teaching the kitchen staff the new dishes and Tommy has a sample of the dishes.

Tommy admits that the new dishes are much better than the old and admits he has been to blame for this.

Roberts next task is to get to work improving the service. He asks two guests to the restaurant and he shows them how they were serving customers yesterday.

They were not impressed with how he was serving and realise that they aren’t as good servers as they thought they were.

Robert works with them on making changes to be able to give better service to the customers.

With just a few hours left until the relaunch they are busy putting the final touches to the restaurant.

Robert asks the staff to gather and Tommy to step up as leader and talk to the staff.

Tommy gives them a pep talk ahead of the evening service but Robert isn’t impressed with how he spoke to the staff.

He believes that Tommy still needs more time and practice to be able to be a more effective leader and will prove himself in time.

Robert shows the new restaurant to Tommy and Allison and they can’t believe the change at the restaurant. Tommy also says that he has learnt a lot about running a restaurant in the last two days.

On relaunch night, the customers love the new look of the restaurant and the improved menu is a big hit with the diners.



What Happened Next at Dinner Bell Restaurant?


A few months later, the kitchen remains clean and the staff are responsible for their own hygiene standards.

They returned to their previous menu and previous prices as customers apparently weren't happy with the new prices, even though at the old prices there was very little profit.

Tommy was also critical of the process of appearing on the show to the local media.

Dinner Bell closed in April 2013 due to rising food costs and the local economy and reviews were mixed prior to closure.


Dinner Bell was Restaurant Impossible season 5 episode 9 and aired on February 27 2013.

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This post was last updated in December 2020.

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