Restaurant Impossible - Sapori D'Italia - OPEN

Sapori D'Italia Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Sapori D'Italia in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Sapori D'Italia is owned by the Manno family, who bought the restaurant five years ago.

Gasper bought Sapori D'Italia because his wife Maria, wanted to own a restaurant.

Although Gasper wasn't really on board for owning a restaurant it was always Maria's dream.

They invested about $785,000 into the business and took an equity loan on their home to the tune of about $300,000.

They also borrowed close to $200,000 from friends and family.

Gasper works in the kitchen whilst Maria is at front of house.

David, the couple's son, disagreed with the idea of buying the restaurant because he thinks they didn't need to get into the restaurant business.

In the beginning, everything went smooth and they were making good money.

The income has declined and they are losing $5,000 each month. If the restaurant closes they will lose their home.

Maria carries so much guilt because purchasing the restaurant was her idea.

They both blame themselves, and much as each other for the failure of the business.

The business is so bad that the family members quarrel over the smallest thing and this has broken the family apart.

The family constantly meddle in each other’s areas of the restaurant, they struggle to work together, there is a lack of respect and they and wind each other up every day.

Gasper describes it has having been the worst four years of his life, personally, financially and for the family.

There is a reputation amongst locals for arguments in the restaurant, which has damaged their reputation.

Robert arrives he compliments the decor including the beautiful bar and the floor looks okay too.

On first looks alone he cannot understand why the restaurant isn’t busy.

Robert meets with the owners and the family to discuss the restaurant.

They bought the restaurant and have invested $900,000 into it.

According to Maria, Gasper micromanages everything and interferes with her running the front of house.

The restaurant made $700,000 gross in the first year they owned it but in the second year it declined to closer to $200,000.

They have used up all of their savings, maxed out credit cards and Gasper does painting work on the side. Despite this they are currently $200,000 in debt.

Robert doesn’t believe that a restaurant should come between a family and wants to fix the restaurant to be able to fix the family.

He wants to see a dinner service to see what the issues are in the restaurant.

During the service, the waiters run about like they don't have a clue of what's going on.

They aren’t friendly and they aren’t being managed.

Robert samples the food and finds it poor with bland dishes with a lack of seasoning on offer.

Maria complains about Roberts observations but Gasper isn’t listening to her complaints.

Robert meets with designer Cheryl and the rest of the design team to discuss the plans for transforming the restaurant.

The staff help empty the restaurant of tables and chairs so the design team can get to work.

Robert wants to talk about the issues from the service and feels that the servers attitude is hurting the restaurant.

The servers try to blame the owners for their behaviour during the service but Robert tells them they need to take responsibility.

Robert gives them all different responsibilities and gives them the last change to prove themselves.

He checks in with the design team and is impressed with their progress so far.

Before he finishes for the night he asks the family to do some homework.

He wants them to write down something the love about the person who frustrates them the most.

The next day, Robert checks in with the design team first and is pleased at what they achieved overnight.

Robert meets with the family and they read about their homework and they feel better after hearing what the family have to say about each other.

He bans the family from bringing up the past as they are to focus on the future of the restaurant.

Roberts next task is to work with the servers to improve the front of house.

The previous night he had given the servers a copy of the new menu to learn and he tests them on the menu.

They are knew the menu well and performed well so he is confident the service will be better on relaunch night.

There are close to a thousand Italian restaurants in the local area and in order to succeed they need to stand out from the competition.

Robert shows the kitchen staff how to make the new menu of fresh, modern classics.

The design team have finished the renovations and it is time to reveal the new restaurant to the owners.

They are overwhelmed by the new decor and hug each other.

On relaunch night, the customers are impressed with the new decor and give excellent feedback on the new food, promising to return to the restaurant.



What Happened Next at Sapori D'Italia?


Within a few months business had increased, $8000 a week for 3 weeks following the shows filming.

This slowed to a 30% increase that has remained year after year.

There are not only new customers but returning customers who love the menu which still includes Roberts dishes but also customer favourites from their original menu.

They have redecorated the dining room since the show and have replaced some of the furniture.

None of the original kitchen staff still work at the restaurant.

David still works at the restaurant but Jonathon has moved onto other prospects.

Sapori D'Italia is open and reviews are very good on both Yelp and Trip Advisor.

Sapori D'Italia was Restaurant Impossible season 5 episode 7 and was aired on January 23 2013

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Next episode - Nanny Goats Cafe and Feed Bin

This post was last updated in February 2021.

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