Restaurant Impossible - Marie's at Ummat Cafe - OPEN

Restaurant Impossible Marie's at Ummat Cafe

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Robert Irvine visits Marie's at Ummat Cafe at Atlanta, Georgia.

Marie's at Ummat Cafe is owned by Jaliwa Owuo and Mikell Hagood.

Jaliwa opened the cafe a little over a year ago.

She was successful at catering so she had the thought of opening a restaurant.

They thought they would just open the place, make great food and give great service.

They believed that this would lead to customers queueing at the door but it hasn’t happened that way.

They are not bringing in the customers and are losing money every month.

They learnt after buying the restaurant that there is a big difference between catering and a full service restaurant.

Many of their customers are from the Muslim community.

They are keeping the restaurant afloat but they aren’t enough to keep the restaurant open.

Mikell often feels bad as he can see his wife getting down over the situation at the restaurant.

When they opened the restaurant they hoped that their children would come on board.

They hoped that it would be able to support their future.

Their children think that their mother is a micromanager and they don’t want to work for her.

Mikell thinks Jaliwa is the kindest person he has met and part of the restaurant was her wanting to give back to the community.

Robert arrives and notices that the restaurant has two different types of tiles on the floor.

The tables and chairs are also mismatched and it doesn’t look great.

He doesn’t think it looks like the type of restaurant customers would want to come to.

Robert meets with Mikell and Jaliwa for a brief about the restaurant and to find out more about the issues they have.

The restaurant was named after Marie, Jaliwa’s mother, who passed away when she was 19.

She wanted to name the restaurant in her honour.

The restaurant is located next to a mosque and most of their customers come from there.

They don’t have any customers from the local area.

The restaurant has three servers, three members of staff in the kitchen and Jaliwa is the head chef.

Mikell is in the Navy and is around for a while before he goes away on a placement.

The couple have five children and they bought the restaurant for them with the hopes to one day pass it on to them.

A month after they bought the restaurant their home burnt down and it was a total loss.

The following month, Jaliwa lost her 29 year old nephew.

Robert asks to see a service at the restaurant so he can see what issues they have.

He is quick to notice that there isn’t a working refrigerator and he will need to fix that.

He can see that Jaliwa is trying to micromanage the staff and it is causing more problems.

She blames the failure of the service on her staff but Robert thinks it might be more to do with the food.

Robert asks to sample some of the food on offer and isn’t impressed with any of them.

He thinks that all of the food is bland and tasteless.

Robert thinks that the mosque next door can be a sense of inspiration for the new restaurant.

Robert goes into the mosque and speaks to them about things to see what he can change at the restaurant in line with their beliefs and standards.

Robert meets with his designer Taniya and they talk about the changes to be made to the restaurant.

They have just 48 hours and $10,000 to transform the restaurant.

Robert calls Mikell and the rest of the staff to remove the furniture from the restaurant, ready for the design team to get to work.

Robert has gathered their children in the mosque to find out why none of them want to work at the restaurant with their mother.

They air their grievances about the restaurant and their mothers management style.

She feels like it was an eye opener as she didn’t realise that was how she was acting and she promises to change.

Before he finishes for the day, Robert checks in with the design team and encourages them to speed up to finish on time.

The next day, Robert arrives and checks in with the design team.

He is impressed with the progress that they have made overnight.

Robert leaves to speak with Jaliwa and it is clear that she realizes she is imposing on her children.

Forcing them to work in the restaurant isn’t working and they need to decide whether to stay or go.

They do an exercise where they release balloons to symbolize their release from the restaurant.

Without the children being forced to work there it should relieve a lot of the tension at the restaurant.

As Robert wasn’t impressed with the food the previous day he has come up with a new menu.

In the kitchen he teaches Jaliwa and her son some kitchen basics and how to prepare some new dishes.

They come out of the session more confident about the relaunch that evening.

The kitchen staff continue to prep and learn the dishes ready for the evening service.

Meanwhile, Robert takes Jaliwa and some of the food out in the community to encourage the locals to visit the restaurant.

“Ummat” means community so it was important for them to go out into the community to engage with the locals.

The design has been delayed by over two hours but they are finally ready to reveal the new look.

The family are overwhelmed by the new look to the restaurant and can’t believe the change that has been made.

On relaunch, the customers are finally let in after waiting for over two hours for it to open.

The customers love both the food and service and promise to return to the restaurant.



What Happened Next at Marie's at Ummat Cafe?


A few months later, revenue had increased by 30-40%.

Customers are now tipping more, up to 90%.

Jaliwa has learnt a lot from the experience and is grateful for Roberts help.

Some of the family are no longer working at the restaurant.

Marie's at Ummat Cafe is open.

Reviews are more positive after the show.

Marie's at Ummat Cafe was Restaurant Impossible season 9 episode 2 and aired on 30th July 2014.

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This post was last updated in February 2022.

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