Restaurant Impossible - Benner Street Restaurant - CLOSED

Benner Street Restaurant Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Benner Street in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,

Benner Street is owned by Thomas Williams and his wife Dorothy.

They bought the restaurant sixteen years ago when it came up for sale.

Thom has been in the restaurant industry for around 50 years.

The couple were working for other people when Thom decided one day that he wanted to own his own restaurant.

They have both been working at the restaurant every day ever since they bought it.

For many years the business did well and there would be a queue out of the door.

Over the last two years the restaurant has declined.

Dorothy thinks that Thom has lost his passion and his health is suffering as he is no longer as healthy as he was.

As the business declined so did their relationship and their marriage is suffering.

Thom thinks Dorothy is controlling as she wants everything to be perfect and controls all of the back of house operations.

Dorothy thinks that Thom no longer cares about the restaurant and doesn’t agree with the business decisions that she makes.

Thom has turned to alcohol to cope with the stresses of the restaurant and they argue when he drinks.

The constant fighting takes place during service and has alienated members of staff.

The fighting has also driven away customers as they argue in the restaurant.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and thinks that it looks dated and bland.

He doesn’t think it is a restaurant he would visit if he wasn’t there for the show.

Robert meets with the owners to learn more about the restaurant.

They bought the restaurant for $269,000 and they still owe around $210,000.

The restaurant has a second mortgage that is secured against their home.

Thom thinks that the restaurant is failing because Dorothy controls everything and does everyone’s job.

As a result she is doing lots of things but not doing them very well.

Dorothy says that she has had to take control of everything because Thom is not stepping up at the restaurant.

There is a lot of resentment between the couple about the restaurant.

Thom thinks that the restaurant can be fixed in two days but he isn’t sure about fixing their relationship in two days.

He thinks that it might be beyond saving.

Dorothy is upset by all that Thom has said and goes into the fridge to cool off.

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

To save money they have cut the menu down and don’t offer many drinks in the bar.

They even have less glassware to be able to cut costs.

Robert couldn’t find a problem with the service and the customers enjoy the food.

Robert did have issues with Dorothy’s controlling nature as she kept coming into the kitchen.

There was no reason for her to interfere as the issue was being dealt with by other members of staff.

She tells a waitress how to do her job and how to put a plate down in front of a customer.

Robert sent her back into the dining room and told her to stop micromanaging everyone.

She is unable to stop interfering and not letting the staff do their jobs.

Robert tells her to leave the restaurant as he is fed up of her behavior.

Dorothy’s daughter Tina confronts here about her control issues and how they contribute to the failure of the restaurant.

Robert sends them outside to talk about their issues, where there are lots of tears.

Next, Robert meets with the designers Cheryl and Tom to discuss ideas on the transformation of the restaurant.

The staff help to empty out the restaurant and remove the furniture.

Thom falls ill outside the restaurant due to the heat and his heart condition.

An ambulance is called to take Thom to the hospital.

Robert is concerned that he might not be coming out of the hospital again whilst he is at the restaurant.

Robert begins to question if the restaurant is the right place for the couple to be.

The mission to change the restaurant has changed for him and he isn’t sure how he can fix it.

Robert meets with his designers to see their progress so far and encourages them to meet the deadline.

The next day, Robert arrives at the restaurant and doesn’t know what the day holds.

He has many tough choices to make and he isn’t sure how to proceed.

Robert was told that Thom was sent home from the hospital the previous night.

He checks in with the design team and is impressed at the further progress they have made.

Although he wants to talk to Thom and Dorothy he has to keep moving on with the relaunch of the restaurant.

He wants to hear from the staff and they think there are many issues at the restaurant and not just the owners.

Robert finally meets with the owners and has some suggestions.

He suggests that they hire a cook to replace Thom so that he can take it easy.

Robert also thinks that maybe Tina should take over from Dorothy to stop her micromanagement.

Everyone has told Robert that Dorothy has control issues so he sets up an exercise.

It will test how well the staff are able to do their jobs without Dorothy interfering.

After the exercise Dorothy realizes that there is no need for her to micromanage the staff and can let them get on with their jobs.

She apologizes to the staff and promises to change.

Robert wants to update the menu and as Thom is sick he asks Chase and Scott to learn the new dishes.

They enjoy learning the new dishes and feel more ready for the relaunch.

Robert takes Dorothy and Tina around the local area to promote the restaurant.

Between the local hospital and college there are 50,000 employees and potential diners.

Robert brings in the family to see the new restaurant and they are impressed with the new decor.

On relaunch night, the customers love the new decor and food and promise to return to the restaurant.



What Happened Next at Benner Street Restaurant?


A few months later, business was up 40%.

People love the new decor and the menu is now a mix of Robert's dishes and some returned customer favourites.

Dorothy and Thom still argue and she is still expecting perfection but is getting on better with staff.

Thoms health has not improved and he is taking more time away from the restaurant.

Reviews after the show were mostly positive.

Benner Street Restaurant closed in May 2014 as Dorothy and Thom decided to retire.

The restaurant reopened as Saranda's on Broadway with new owners, new management, new food and new staff.

Benner Street Restaurant was Restaurant Impossible season 6 episode 12 and aired on 28th July 2013.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Next episode - Aponte's Pizzeria

Previous episode - Edibles Restaurant & Pub / Hurley's Bar and Grill

This post was last updated in May 2021.

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