Restaurant Impossible - El Bistro / Renae’s Corner - CLOSED

Restaurant Impossible El Bistro

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Robert Irvine visits El Bistro in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

El Bistro is owned by Renae Bowens.

Renae has owned El Bistro for four years.

She has four children, their ages are 6, 8, 12 and 15.

At El Bistro, they serve breakfast, lunch and American comfort foods.

Renae is a single mother and raises her kids on her own.

She decided she wanted to own her own restaurant after getting degree in business.

Renae saw this restaurant for sale and thought that she should just give it a try.

She has no background in food service or the restaurant industry.

The first year of business was good but in the second year it started to slow down.

This last year has been a very bad year and business has declined dramatically.

With struggling with being a single mom, Renae tried everything she could to save her business.

Renae did some renovations at the restaurant to try and make it more modern.

She does nearly everything herself and doesn’t think that she needs staff.

Renae says that her staff doesn’t take her seriously.

She’s there every day from seven to three for breakfast and waitresses during the afternoon.

Renae hasn’t paid rent in quite some time and isn’t able to buy food for her home.

Robert walks into El Bistro and notices the stench in the place is horrid.

There’s so much dust on the ceilings and the restaurant is dirty.

Robert is sticking to the floor as he tries to walk around the restaurant.

Robert calls Renae and says that this is the worst place he’s ever walked into.

He tells her to give him a reason to help her and asks why it’s like this.

Renae is behind $30,000 in taxes and she owes her landlord $6,000.

Robert tells her she’s not restaurant smart at all.

Robert wants to see a service to see what the issues are at the restaurant.

The customers mention that the tables are dirty.

There is mold growing in the soda fountains and there are moldy dinner rolls.

Robert tells the customers that he’s not letting them eat anything in this restaurant.

He tells the cook to stop cooking and notices that the kitchen is very disgusting.

Robert tells the staff that they should be ashamed of themselves.

He tells them to start cleaning the kitchen immediately.

Renae apologizes to the customers and tells them that they won’t be able to do the lunch service today.

Robert shows the restaurant to his design team and they discuss plans for the transformation.

They begin taking out everything in this restaurant.

Robert gives Tom a sledgehammer and they begin tearing the counter down.

Robert says he feels happier after breaking the counter down.

Robert meets with Renae and she says that her staff has left her with the cleaning

She also admits that she needs to take a more active role in leadership.

Robert asks if the staff respect her and she doesn’t know how to answer that.

Robert meets with the staff and asks them for their opinion on what goes on at the restaurant.

The staff say that she’s not there as much as she says.

They also say when she is there that she gets so frustrated and flustered.

The staff tell Robert that they have to spend their own money on cleaning products.

Renae hasn’t given them the tools they need to keep the place clean.

Robert gives the staff homework to be completed by the next day.

He wants them to write down what they want from Renae as a leader and then he wants them to tell this to Renae.

Robert has all of the kitchen equipment taken out to be cleaned.

They discover lots of mold and bacteria growth in the kitchen.

Robert says he can’t work on a menu yet as the kitchen isn’t usable.

Robert meets with Renae and wants to find out if she wants to be a part of this restaurant or not.

He tells her he wants her to really think about it.

He wants her to convince him that she is capable of doing this and that she deserves it.

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

They have replaced the flooring and there is no longer a smell in the restaurant.

It must have been coming from the old carpet.

The design team is focusing on textures for the walls.

Renae had to ask herself if her heart was in this business.

She said she asked her kids about it and they said they loved the restaurant.

She says that this is what she wants to be doing right now.

Robert says that only time will tell if Renae is capable of turning the restaurant around.

The pair meet with the staff to go over what they want in a leader.

They want her present more and to be there on time each day.

The staff think they need a budgeting plan for cleaning products.

They all agree that they just want Renae to be happy at the restaurant.

Robert offers Renae money to get her out of debt so she can sell the restaurant.

She says no to $10,000, $20,000 and $30,000.

Renae says she is ready to do this and her whole focus is to turn this place around.

Robert hugs her and tells her that he believes her.

Robert begins creating the new menu.

He shows Renae and the cook recipes with trout, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Robert changed the name of El Bistro to Renae’s Corner for a more personal touch.

Robert calls over Renae to show her the new name and she loves the new name.

She says having it named after her makes her feel good.

They begin making the finishing touches on this restaurant.

Renae says she is nervous but excited to see her new restaurant.

Robert takes her inside and tells her to open her eyes.

Renae is crying and she hugs Robert.

She loves all of the new changes that they have made.

They open up for the first time since remodel.

On relaunch, the customers love the changes and the food.

They say how it smells so much better in the restaurant now.

The customers like how they changed the name to Renae’s Corner.

They said El Bistro as a name didn’t make any sense.

One customer pointed out the artwork and said that they liked how they tied the restaurant to the community.

The staff notice how happy Renae is and how she seems to be more dedicated now.



What Happened Next at El Bistro?


A few weeks later, profit increased by 50%.

Both she and the customers love the new decor.

She has stepped up as a boss and the kitchen staff now have a cleaning schedule.

They kept the name.

Renae’s Corner closed in January 2015.

The restaurant was put up for sale months before the closure.

El Bistro was Restaurant Impossible season 9 episode 7 and aired on 3rd September 2014.

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Previous episode - Uncle Andy's Diner

This post was last updated in March 2022.

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