Smith's Soul Food Bistro - Restaurant Impossible Update - Open or Closed?

Restaurant Impossible Smith's Soul Food Bistro

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Robert Irvine visits Smith’s Soul Food Bistro in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Smith’s Soul Food Bistro is owned by Cheryl Littlejohn.

The restaurant is patronised by locals mostly.

Cheryl’s sister Deborah Currence volunteers at the restaurant as well as helping with finance.

The restaurant is named after their grandmother and they are using her recipes.

Cheryl had a talent in basketball and was recruited by the University of Tennessee.

She won a national championship and ended up coaching but later lost her job.

She was fired for helping one of her students financially.

She set up a foundation and continues to help kids.

The restaurant is under the foundation and trains kids on life skills through honest work.

As much as she is successful with the children, she does not manage the restaurant well.

It has been a money sink and she has lost a lot of money.

Robert arrives and he is not impressed with the boxy space.

There are worn furnishings, dirty mirrored walls and the colours are ugly.

Robert meets Cheryl and Debra and quickly notices they have no restaurant experience.

Cheryl has put in $220,000 into the business.

She is leasing the space and she had to purchase her own equipment.

They tell Robert about their foundation, the Lacy Vols Legacy Foundation.

They have poured their savings into it and have not gotten any returns.

The service starts with Cheryl and Debra taking charge.

However, Cheryl is doing busy work and pouring tea.

Robert sees the chef and finds out there is a book of ingredients with no actual recipes to follow.

There is no leadership at the restaurant.

Robert talks to the customers and many of them do not know the backstory.

They don’t know how the proceeds of the business help children.

The restaurant is emptied out and Robert orders several dishes from the menu.

He then talks to the kids working in the restaurant while waiting for his food.

They are all kids with big dreams.

They love Cheryl who helped them with their goals as well as boost their confidence.

Robert is impressed.

The food arrives and he has feedback for them but none of it is positive.

The design team of Tom and Lynn are brought in.

They plan on making the space less moody and more have more of a wow factor.

Staff and volunteers empty out the space while Tom and Lynn plan what they want to do.

Robert takes the staff and Cheryl to play basketball in the parking lot.

She coaches them on completing a basketball move.

She takes charge and directs them successfully.

Robert highlights the lessons and how she should translate those skills in the kitchen.

He wants to tackle the lack of recipes in the kitchen.

Cheryl and the cook Keith have been given a list of ingredients to make a chocolate mousse without a recipe.

They both make variations of chocolate sauces that are not chocolate mousse.

Robert highlights how the correct quantity of ingredients is not just for cooking correctly but also to help calculate costs and returns.

Robert checks in on the work that the design team is doing.

He gives the cook along with Cheryl assignments to work on overnight.

Cheryl is to delegate duties, especially to Debra.

Keith is to use Robert’s recipe to make Collard Greens.

The next morning, the space is without lights as it has all been ripped out to work on the ceiling.

Debra confirms she has been empowered with the figures of the business.

She has assessed that it is not accurate as some receipts are missing.

Cheryl has also understood that she needs to be a coach in her business.

Robert gives them another assignment to summarise the story of their business.

This will be used as a script for a new social media outreach video.

Cheryl is passionate when talking to her staff and kids and keeps the energy up for the video.

Robert takes them to the kitchen and demonstrates making some dishes.

These include a fried pork sandwich, mac and cheese with lemon pepper chicken and a fish and grits dish.

They love the food with no reservations about the new dishes.

Robert checks on the design team and they push to the very end.

Cheryl and Keith practice cooking the dishes whilst they put the finishing touches on.

Robert takes in Cheryl and Debra to see the new restaurant.

It is ambient with open warm spaces and more attention has been paid to a beautiful space.

There is now longer a messy billboard wall and there is a new POS system too.

Cheryl and Debra both bring in the waiting customers.

On relaunch, the returning customers love the new changes.

Cheryl is acting more like an owner.

She is talking to guests and making sure service is swift.

In the kitchen, the cook is making consistent dishes with a recipe.

The customers have plenty of compliments for the food.

There has been a transformation in all the staff, who are happy and excited.

What Happened Next at Smith's Soul Food Bistro?

After the show, Cheryl has delegated the finances to Debra.

Sales have gone up 34%.

She is coaching staff and motivating them.

Keith has taken on more responsibilities in the kitchen and is training for a leadership role.

Smith's Soul Food Bistro is open.

Reviews are mostly positive with praise for the food but some complaints on pricing.

Smith's Soul Food Bistro is Restaurant Impossible season 21 episode 1 and aired on 28th April 2022.

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