Restaurant Impossible - Pollard's Bar-B-Q - OPEN

Pollard's Bar-B-Q Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Pollard's Bar-B-Q in Memphis, Tennessee.

Pollard's Bar-B-Q is a barbecue restaurant owned by Tarrance, Torria and Tenesia.

The owners feel their new restaurant will make it through the first year because Memphis is a barbecue town, despite much competition.

Tarrance eats, drinks, and sleeps barbecue.

He knows it well after inheriting the process from his grandfather and thinks it is in his blood.

Tarrance started cooking barbecue in a trailer for about a year.

He enjoyed it and later opened up a small catering business about 15 years ago.

There is a lot of competing restaurants in the area and they weren't successful in their smaller location.

Hoping to increase sales, Tarrance moved his business to a more prominent location four months ago.

He invested all of his savings and his 401K to get the new place.

A lot of their customers did not follow them to the new location.

They are $280,000 in debt and are losing about $10,000 each month.

Pollard Barbeque may only last another three to four months if things don’t change.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and is impressed with the amount of space they have at the restaurant.

The restaurant is so large that a lot of the space is not being used.

Robert calls the owners together for a brief and to hear more about the restaurant.

They reveal that it is a family barbecue business but none of the owners have any restaurant experience.

Torrie has another job at a shipping company and Tenesia has been working at the restaurant as a cashier and prep cook for the business for eight years.

Although they have only had this location for four months they have been selling BBQ for more than 16 years.

They weren’t as successful as they had hoped at their previous location so decided to move into a more desirable location.

They bought the restaurant for $200,000 and invested another $80,000 for costs.

They have spent all their savings and their house is attached to the restaurant.

If they lose the restaurant they will also be homeless.

Robert wants to observe a service to find out what the issues are at the restaurant.

The customers find the ribs are tough and it all looks like a mess on the plate.

In the kitchen, Tarrance has started to cut corners, the food is either frozen or pre-prepared and reheated in the microwave.

Nothing is made from fresh and Tarrance says that the sauce recipe is passed from generation to generation.

Robert samples the food and is unimpressed with the frozen onion rings and the tough, dry ribs.

The turkey leg is cold inside and lacks flavour.

Robert asks them to get the ingredients together as he wants to see how he makes his sauce.

Robert receives a phone call that Taniya is sick and Tom is going to have to be on double duty and will consult with her.

They talk about some ideas for the renovation and Robert sends some photos to Taniya.

Robert reveals that he wants it charming and comfortable with the bar to be changed.

Robert asks the staff to help with moving the furniture out of the restaurant.

In removing the equipment from the dining room Robert discovers that the ice machine is dangerously dirty and calls in a professional cleaner.

Tarrance shows Robert the barbecue sauce recipe and cannot believe it.

The recipe uses a store bought bottled barbecue sauce as a base and he adds ingredients to it.

Robert shows him to make a barbecue sauce fully from scratch.

Robert also shows Tarrance how to prepare ribs starting with a dry rub whilst he makes his own using their original recipe.

He meets with Tom who reveals the new colour scheme and his plan to move the bar back to allow for more tables.

After the ribs have been cooking for an hour he calls Torria and Tenesia to blind taste test the ribs.

They both preferred Robert’s ribs whereas Tarrance insists that the likes his own the best.

Robert needs him to be open to change if they are able to move forward otherwise he will failed.

Robert decides to have a one on one chat with Torria as she seems to be the most reasonable.

She thinks that Tarrance is in denial and is stubborn and unable to change easily.

Robert thinks after speaking to her that maybe he needs to speak to Tarrance outside of the restaurant to get through to him.

He thinks that he needs to rethink his approach and come up with a strategy for the next day.

The next day, Robert pays a visit to Tarrance at home but he won’t speak to him.

He tells him that he is sick, tired and overwhelmed from the previous day.

Tarrance also doesn’t want to come to the restaurant so Robert gives him an hour to turn up or he will leave and not rescue the restaurant.

Robert returns to the restaurant and checks in with the designers and what has been done.

The paintwork that they did out the back of the restaurant was walked over by a dog and has to be redone, adding to Tom's work.

With just twenty minutes left, Tarrance shows up at the restaurant.

He is willing to give him a chance at transforming the restaurant.

Robert tells him that he is stubborn and Tarrance continues to tell Robert that his sauce isn't the problem.

Robert talks to Tarrance about his menu and gives him some tips on meats to use to cut food costs.

Their new methods will also mean they can serve diners quickly and will attract more interest.

The new colourful decor is revealed and Tarrance is invigorated with the changes.

On relaunch, the customers love the new decor and the new food is a big hit with customers promising to return.



What Happened Next at Pollard's Bar-B-Q?


Since Robert visited, Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews are mostly good with compliments to the food, prices and service at the restaurant.

When Robert revisited a few months later, business was up 20%.

They are using social media and the customers love both the new decor and the new food on the menu.

There has also been a tweak to their signature BBQ sauce to make it more unique.

Pollard's Bar-B-Q is open.


Pollard's Bar-B-Q was Restaurant Impossible season 3 episode 12 and aired on May 30 2012.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Previous episode - University Grill

Next episode - Horton's Kids

This post was last updated in May 2021.

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