Restaurant Impossible - Tootie's Texas BBQ - CLOSED

Restaurant Impossible Tootie's Texas BBQ

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Tootie's Texas BBQ in Cathedral City, California.

Tootie's Texas BBQ is owned by Eileen Smith.

Before Tootie's, Eileen and her late husband used to make a living selling hotdogs.

They sold first from carts and then from a space next door to the restaurant.

Her late husband passed away three years ago.

She was very lonely until the opportunity came up for her to buy Tootie's.

Owning a restaurant had always been her dream.

She bought the restaurant for $50,000.

The restaurant was good after they first opened.

It started going downhill and she started losing about $3000 every week.

The failing restaurant is only one of series of hits Eileen's been taking over the past few years.

She lost her sister, mom, dad and also her husband during this time.

After everyone passed, she thought it was the right time for her until nine months ago when she hit rock bottom.

She found out that she had cancer and was forced into bankruptcy.

She couldn't make it on for one more month.

If Robert hadn't come to her rescue, Eilleen would be left with no other option than to close down the restaurant.

When driving to the restaurant it is clear to Rober that it is located within an industrial park with many businesses.

Robert doesn’t understand why Tootie's isn't busy with all the neighbouring busineses.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and spots leaks in the roof and awful decorations with horns.

There are some other artefacts and the restaurant generally has a bland and boring appearance.

He thinks that there is nothing to invite customers to the restaurant.

Robert meets with Eileen for a brief about the restaurant.

She tells him that they purchased the restaurant about three years ago.

Eileen tells her that her husband rented a cart for 25 years.

When her husband got sick she needed to be home to take care of him.

The opportunity came up to purchase Lennie's Weenie's cafe, which was just a little small five hundred square foot restaurant.

She felt it was perfect to have her business and take care of him at the same time.

Four years ago, shortly after they bought the restaurant, he passed away.

When the opportunity of Tooties next door opened, she took it and purchased for $50,000.

They took out the walls and made it into one big restaurant.

Eileen doesn't have any idea or experience of barbeque.

She thought it would be straightforward but it has been way more challenging than she thought.

She doesn't know the first week of revenue from when she purchased the restaurant.

Robert's first clue to where she was failing is in Eileen's overhead.

Her first month of revenue was $21,000 and she is losing about $3000 weekly.

During the discussion, Robert senses that there is a lot more going on than what Eileen is letting on.

Later, Robert learns that Eileen was diagnosed with lung cancer nine months ago.

She doesn't want to walk away because it's her dream and she wants to be successful.

Robert asks to see a service at the restaurant.

There is a large crowd in the restaurant so Robert expects food to be flying out of the kitchen with lightning speed.

However, they are finding it difficult to get food out on time and the service is not very good.

Robert thinks that there is a lack of leadership and the staff aren't doing their jobs.

Nobody is being held accountable for the poor service and the poor food.

Eileen is crying and it is clear that she has hit rock bottom.

It's Robert's job to build her up, fix the restaurant and put it back on the right track.

The secret to the success of any restaurant is in its food.

Robert sits down, ready to see what Tootie's is serving up but the food doesn’t measure up to his standards.

After trying the food, seeing the service and the restaurant, Robert tries to figure out how to change all three of them.

Robert meets with his designers Lynn Kegan and Tom.

They share ideas on the best possible way to fix the structure and bland decor.

Robert asks the staff to help move the furniture out of the space to get it ready for renovation.

Work has started in the restaurant and Robert goes into the local community to find out the locals opinions of the restaurant.

Some complained about the expensive menu and the poor quality of food.

Robert promised to use their feedback to turn things around at Tootie's.

Robert returns and meets with Eileen and her staff to check if everything he's been saying all day is sinking in.

During the discussion, Robert sees that Eileen is too protective of her employees and advises her that it may hurt her.

The next day, he checks in on the dining area where the redesign is going on.

He was very impressed with the progress made overnight and encourages them to keep up the excellent pace.

Robert meets with Eileen and engages her in some discussion on how to be a leader.

Next, he suggests that Eileen addresses her staff, informing them that they are starting a new chapter in the restaurant's book.

Robert spends almost all day working on Eileen and the staffs morale.

This left him little time to manage Lynn and Tom's work, so he left to check upon them.

They have done lots of work and say that they will be ready in time for the relaunch.

Robert teaches Eileen and other kitchen staff some new menu items.

They feel more confident that they will be able to pull it off for the relaunch.

Robert asks the staff to prepare some of the new dishes from the new menu.

He has invited the business owners from around the restaurant to taste the food.

He also invites them to come back to the restaurant for the relaunch that evening.

It's been a few years of hardship for Eileen and she's suffered a lot of losses.

Robert hopes the new restaurant will be the start of a bright future for her.

Robert leads her into the restaurant and she couldn't believe how the restaurant has changed.

On relaunch, the customers enjoy the refreshing atmosphere and the delicious new items on the menu.

The feedback was positive and the customers promise to return to the restaurant.



What Happened Next at Tootie's Texas BBQ?


A few weeks later, sales are up 30%.

Customers praise the new decor at the restaurant.

The menu is now a mix of Robert's and their old menu.

As Eileen learned about food costs she made their existing menu items more profitable.

The employees have also stepped up and she is a better manager.

Eileen sadly passed away in May 2014, two months after the episode aired.

After the new owners took over the hours were erratic and there were stock and food quality issues.

Tootie's Texas BBQ closed in March 2015.

Tootie's Texas BBQ was Restaurant Impossible season 8 episode 2 and aired on 12th March 2014.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Next episode - Pasion Latin Fusion

Previous episode - Mill Creek BBQ

This post was last updated in October 2021.

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