Habanera and the Guero - Restaurant Impossible Update - Open or Closed?

Restaurant Impossible Habanera and the Guero

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Robert Irvine visits Habanera and the Guero in Houston, Texas.

Habanera and the Guero is owned by Ben Downing and Vanessa Lomeli.

The owners are constantly at each other’s throats.

Vanessa is the executive chef and general manager.

Ben is the owner.

He saved up some money and decided he wanted to own his own business.

Shortly after this, he met Vanessa and thought that she was very talented.

Vanessa got her love of food from her grandma as she watched her cook.

They met in January 2014.

By the end of 2014, they had opened the restaurant.

When they first met, they were very attracted to each other.

She says they never had a fight until they opened this restaurant.

From there, it continued to get worse and they’ll fight in front of staff.

Vanessa had never worked in a professional kitchen before.

Ben had never worked in a restaurant.

Some people came but never got served and didn’t come back.

They quickly started losing money.

Ben says he had put in around $200,000.

The current debt is around $77,000.

If things continue as they are, they will have to close in a month.

Vanessa and Ben are now separated.

They will be working on the custody arrangements for their three year old daughter.

Vanessa says that having a child made things worse and the fighting doubled.

Ben says he still wants the relationship and the restaurant to work out.

His goal is to make this place work and to mend things with Vanessa.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and isn’t impressed.

The booths are battered and torn.

Robert says the restaurant is very unappealing.

He calls Ben and Vanessa to the front of the house.

Nobody does the books, despite Ben saying he’s great with numbers.

Robert says he is going to bring some people in so he can see the service.

There aren’t enough menus for a full restaurant.

Robert is timing how long it takes for some customers to get a menu.

Customers have been waiting for thirty minutes and they still haven’t received a drink.

Soon, they run out of chips and cups.

An hour goes by and some customers still haven’t been given a menu.

Robert says that somebody has to stop this because it is too painful.

Robert tells Vanessa to shut it down.

He tells Ben that he has the brain of a mathematician but he doesn’t use it.

Robert tells the camera guys to go away for a moment.

He stresses to Ben and Vanessa how important it is that they get it together for their daughter.

He asks how are they going to work together if they can’t look at each other.

Vanessa says she doesn’t know if it’ll ever be okay again.

Robert tells them he wants to try the food now.

The pork belly tacos are fatty with no flavor.

Robert tells Vanessa that nothing is bad.

He says there is a lot of potential but potential doesn’t pay the bills.

They will have to build on what they have.

Robert meets with his design team Lynn and Tom to discuss where they should go design wise.

The staff and the volunteers begin taking everything out of the restaurant.

Vanessa says she would like this restaurant to be something but right now it is toxic for her to be around Ben.

Robert meets with Ben.

Robert tells Ben that he can’t control people.

The next morning, Robert meets with Vanessa and Ben.

He takes them to their food truck out back.

He lets them communicate in the food truck, and whatever they say stays in the food truck.

Vanessa is trying to give Ben the respect that he wants, but he just keeps wanting to talk about it.

They both keep shutting each other off.

Robert leaves them in the food truck to continue the conversations by themselves.

Robert keeps telling Ben that Vanessa should run the kitchen and that he should trust her with it.

Ben doesn’t agree with Robert.

Ben says that Vanessa doesn’t know nearly as much as he does about food.

Robert tells Ben to go and make an item off the menu to prove how good he is.

Robert tells Ben to stay away from the kitchen because he doesn’t understand it.

Ben says that Robert is enabling Vanessa to cut him out of it completely.

Robert asks what Ben wants.

He says he wants Vanessa, and that he loves her.

Robert says if he continues like this, then he won’t have her.

Ben says he still has some reservations about this, but he is willing to make this better moving forward.

He offers to make Vanessa a full partner.

Vanessa says thank you and hugs Ben.

Vanessa says this makes her feel like there is hope and that they can work together.

Today is the first day that they are working well as a team.

Vanessa is happy that she can call this restaurant hers as well.

Robert shows Vanessa a few ways they can upgrade the recipes he tried earlier.

Ben says now there are no limits to where they can go.

Vanessa says that Robert gave them the tools to make the restaurant successful so they can raise their daughter together.

Robert takes Vanessa and Ben into their new restaurant.

There are brand new tabletops, chairs, bar stools, and a new service station.

Ben says it was worth it to trust Robert.

Ben and Vanessa kiss.

Vanessa says that it feels like they both are working on change now.

Vanessa and Ben hug Tom and Lynn and say thank you.

Ben and Vanessa invite the customers into their new restaurant.

The customers say that it is gorgeous.

On relaunch, they didn’t wait long for drinks and menus.

They now have enough menus.

The customers are loving the food.

Ben is getting a crash course into running the restaurant.

Robert believes that Ben and Vanessa can make it.



What Happened Next at Habanera and the Guero?


After few weeks later, sales went up roughly 15%.

When COVID-19 hit, they shifted their focus to takeout.

They are still working together to make their dreams work.

Habanera and the Guero is open.

Reviews after the show are mostly positive.

There is praise for food and drinks but some customers complain on a long wait for food and drinks.

Vanessa left the restaurant in April 2020.

Vanessa opened her own restaurant called The 915 in 2021.

Shortly after opening she suffered kidney failure and was very ill for three months.

Habanera and the Guero was Restaurant Impossible season 17 episode 1 and aired on 21st May 2020.

This post was last updated in February 2023.

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