Restaurant Impossible - Zandi's Grill - CLOSED

Zandi's Grill Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Millersville, Maryland.

Zandi’s Grill is owned by sisters Yvonne and Evette who bought the restaurant three years ago.

The sisters are close and work at the restaurant together every day for the breakfast and lunch service.

They decided on a tropical theme because it made them happy but it seems more depressing now that they have no customers at the restaurant.

The sisters ran a successful restaurant before buying the restaurant but it was sold by the owners.

When Zandi’s came up for sale they jumped at the chance to own their own restaurant and purchased it with a loan from their mother.

They do not know what it is that they were doing wrong and aren’t sure if it's the cooking, the service, the location or the decor that is the issue.

They are currently losing about $5000 a month and if things do not change, Zandi's Grill will close down in 2 to 3 months.

The sisters are both single mothers of 4 and 2 year old daughters.

They want the restaurant to be successful to be able to provide for their children.

Robert struggles to find the restaurant and arrives at the restaurant only to find a customer sitting there.

Robert meets with the owners and discovers that the restaurant they were running was making $300,000 a year.

They purchased Zandi’s Grill because it was for sale for just $35,000 and they borrowed the money from their mother, which they have since repaid.

When they purchased the restaurant they were doing well and there was an average of 70 customers a day but this has declined to just four a day.

The sisters think that the restaurant's location could be responsible for the failure of the business.

They tell Robert that they will be closed in 2 to 3 months if things do not change.

Robert can tell that they have fallen out of love with the restaurant have let it fall apart.

Robert wants to observe a service to discover what the issues are with the restaurant.

One guest complains that they couldn’t even find the restaurant for the service and this seems to be a regular occurrence.

As Zandi’s only opens for breakfast and lunch they have to make the food memorable.

The issue is that they only employ the staff part time and have a high turnover of staff, leading to inconsistent food and service.

Robert quickly discovers that most of the menu is frozen and processed foods that are cooked or reheated.

The food takes a long time to leave the kitchen and by the time it reaches the customers it is already cold.

Robert asks if any of the customers would return and only two put their hands up.

Robert gets frustrated with the owners as they aren’t enthusiastic and they have given up. He thinks nobody cares anymore.

Robert samples some dishes from the menu and wasn't impressed with the food.

He tells the sisters to be open minded and meets with designer Taniya and builder Tom.

They discuss plans for renovating the space to make the restaurant more inviting and welcoming for guests.

Robert asks the staff to help empty the restaurant ready for the renovation to take place.

The carpet is ripped up and the old floor is levelled with the tacky tropical wall next to go.

Next, Robert wants to deal with the food as it is clear that cook Samantha has not had the training needed to run a kitchen.

Robert considers promoting Jared to Head Chef as he is a culinary student that shows promise and Otis will also be given the chance.

After some basics skills tests it is clear that neither of them are capable of leading the kitchen and Robert is out of options.

Robert gives them homework to put calls out to ad agencies for a new chef at short notice.

Before calling it a night Robert checks in with the design team and is pleased with the progress that they have made so far.

After three hours of searching and reaching out the sisters are able to find two potential chefs who will come to the restaurant the next day.

The next day, Robert is impressed with the work the design team has done so far, branding it as beautiful.

Robert meets with the two new candidates for the role as chef.

Alan has been cooking for the last 22 years and Andre is a self-taught chef who has been cooking for six years.

They are challenged to a cook off with the sisters picking the winner.

They chose Alan as the winner and he was straight into the kitchen to start prepping for the dinner guests for the relaunch.

Robert reveals two new burger specials for the service, Ground Chicken and Blue Cheese Burgers and Short Rib, Bacon and Egg Burgers.

Robert is relieved to have Alan and is pleased with his progress in the kitchen.

The location however is now the biggest issue he has to tackle and Robert tasks the sisters with bringing in trade.

They go into the local neighbourhood and give out free milkshakes to the children, promoting the restaurant and speaking about the relaunch.

As they make the finishing touches to the renovation the parking lot is filling up with guests for the relaunch.

The renovation is finished and it is revealed to the sisters and they are stunned by the transformation.

On relaunch night, the customers find the decor comforting and charming.

The new menu is a huge hit with the diners. They enjoy the food and promise to return.



What Happened Next at Zandi's Grill?


Robert revisits the restaurant and is told that business is up 39% and they are serving over double the customers they were previously serving each day.

They have kept Roberts new decor and the spirit of his menu by keeping it small with dishes using only fresh ingredients. The new head chef last after a week but they hired a replacement who is doing well.

Zandi's Grill closed in February 2015 after customers went to the restaurant and found a sign on the door advising they were closed.

Shortly afterwards the phone line was disconnected and the website was pulled.

Yelp Reviews were mixed, the food is complimented but there are negative comments on the atmosphere, service and owner.

Trip Advisor reviews prior to closure were mixed, with mixed reports of both excellent and poor food and of service.


Zandi's Grill was Restaurant Impossible season 4 episode 3 and aired on July 25 2012

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Previous episode - The Main Dish

Next episode - Italian Village


This post was last updated in January 2021.

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