Restaurant Impossible - Italian Village - CLOSED

Italian Village Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Italian Village Restaurant in Ridley Township in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Italian Village Restaurant is owned by the Mellon Family, Jim, Rob and Rob Jnr.

Thirty years ago, Jim and Rob bought the restaurant when they were very young and the restaurant was a cash cow.

Jim in recent years has become a silent partner in the business.

They both invested close to a million dollars in the restaurant and have continued to invest more money to keep it open.

The business started to go downhill over the last decade and if something isn’t done, they could lose the restaurant within eight months.

As Rob`s son Robby studied Restaurant and Hotel management in college they asked him to come help at the Italian Village restaurant.

Despite the lack of experience after 5years in the corporate field he agreed to help his father.

When Rob Jnr arrived he had idea about the financial situation of the restaurant and how to run it.

He was under the impression he was going to be the General Manager but his father wouldn’t allow him to make changes on the menu or control staffing.

He took over responsibilities from his father but he had no authority.

His unclear job description puts both the business and the father and son`s relationship on the line.

Robert Snr stays at the restaurant because of the promises he made to his family that he will always provide for them.

He admits he isn’t proud of his son because sometimes he feels Rob Jnr’s mind isn’t with the restaurant.

Chef Roberts job is to untangle the family dynamics and make the Italian Village Restaurant profitable again.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and notices how dirty the place looks with stained ceiling tiles.

There is a missing floor tile, no windows and the lighting is poor, which makes the restaurant seem claustrophobic.

Robert asks to speak to the family and they tell Robert that are half a million dollars in debt and they are losing $5000 each week.

Jim introduces himself as a silent partner as he hasn’t been involved in the business in 4 years because he got burnt out and decided to step away.

He wanted to sell the business as he wanted to keep the business in the family as it is all they have.

Rob Jnr considers himself head of daily operations but doesn’t know the revenue figures as he is in the dark because his father keeps them from him.

Robert thinks that something isn’t quite right between the two and Ron Jnr says that sometimes his father is unapproachable.

Rob Snr confesses that they are labelled as partners but they are not. They have disagreements and he listens to his son but disagrees with him.

Ultimately Rob Snr thinks his son hasn’t cut his teeth enough to wear his shoes.

Rob Jnr would like to look at the books to help him with what he learnt in school, but Rob chose to shoulder the burden alone.

Robert asks if anyone else in the family works at the restaurant and he learns that Pat is a cook and Ryan is a waiter.

His wife also works as a hostess and if they lose the business the family loses all.

Despite Jim putting in the call to the show, Robert offers Jim the chance to walk out of the restaurant if he still feels doesn’t want to be a part of the business.

He tells Robert that he had already made his decision to walk away so would stick with it and walks out.

Robert wanted to see how the restaurant works during a service so he invites diners to the restaurant for their feedback.

Some customers feel that the lights in the restaurant are very dim, some complained about the huge 180 item menu and some complained about the food being too oily or salty.

Robert asks one of the waitresses to pick the ten top-selling items from the menu and serve them to him.

He tastes all of the dishes and sees the reasons the restaurant is losing business as the food is poor.

Roberts first task is to fix the decor and meets with designer, Lynn Keegan. They exchange ideas on how to change the decor on the $10,000 budget.

Robert summons the staff to help empty the restaurant and they discover that the restaurant might have an infestation.

There is clear evidence of an infestation of mice, there are mouse droppings, dead mice and the stench of mouse urine.

Robert called the family to have a last look at their restaurant before the transformation and requested a meeting with the staff afterwards.

He took an anonymous survey to know exactly why the staff think the restaurant is failing. The staff would put a lemon in the boxes for the parts of the restaurant where they felt it is failing.

The food box was empty so the staff don’t think the food is the biggest issue. The management box however is full as the staff don’t feel that they have a strong and clear leader of the restaurant.

Rob Jnr apologizes for slacking off admits that he did have more energy when he first arrived at the restaurant and promises to work ten times harder to make the Italian Village better.

At the end of the first day Robert meets with Lynn and Tom , who have planned to create a window in the windowless room and change the flooring.

Robert has a meeting with both Robs and gives them homework to go and think about what they should be doing individually for the success of the restaurant. He wants their reply by the next morning.

The second day, Robert plans to create a new menu and finish the design, but his top priority is to define new roles for Rob Snr and Rob Jnr. They are already waiting to give Robert the result of their overnight homework.

Robert had made a scale to show the balance of power and as they read through what they feel they should be doing he places an orange in their respective basket to decide their responsibilities.

Rob Jnr has good ideas, and his father saw that Rob Jnr could be an asset to the business. They put aside their differences and agreed to make the Italian Village work again.

They now understand that they are just father and son, they are also friends and business partners.

Overnight, a lot of progress has been made by the designers when Robert checked in with them and he is impressed by what he sees.

Robert meets with Rob Snr to discuss the 180 item menu and the pressure it puts on the kitchen. Robert tells him alongside this he doesn’t have the money, freezer space and refrigeration space to support a menu this size.

It takes Rob Snr. 20 mins to be read the whole menu when timed. Robert thinks that it is ridiculous and no wonder the restaurant is failing.

Rob Jnr suggested a simple menu two years earlier but his dad didn’t listen to his suggestion. With Robert pleading the case for it he eventually agrees to reducing the number of dishes on the menu to just 30.

Robert meets with the kitchen staff to introduce the smaller menu that will be faster to push out of the kitchen. He also teaches them how to make these dishes, they taste the new menu and think the new dishes are delicious.

Everyone is busy in the dining area as there is limited time before the planned reopening.

After a final push to finish the renovations in the dining room it is revealed to the Mellon family and they can’t believe what they see when they get in.

The Designers transformed the dark and dull Italian Village into a bright and charming restaurant. Rob Snr feels the Italian atmosphere in the newly designed dining room.

On relaunch night, the customers love the new dining room. Rob Jnr is stepping up as the manager and is working well with the staff. Food is also flying out of the door and impresses the diners with many promising to return.

What Happened Next at Italian Village?

Yelp reviews were mixed after Robert visited the restaurant.

Robert revisited a few months later and sales are up 18%.

They had kept Roberts changes.

Italian Village closed on July 20th 2014 with Rob blaming the economy and the opening of a local casino for the closure.

Prior to the closure, their website was hijacked and replaced with a website featuring bad reviews and telling people not to eat there.

The restaurant was sold by auction on July 26th 2014 with all of the contents also being for sale.


Recipes in this episode

Drunken Penne Pasta


Italian Village was Restaurant Impossible Season 4 episode 4 and aired on August 01 2012.

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This post was last updated in November 2020.

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