Runway Cafe - Restaurant Impossible Update - Open or Closed?

Restaurant Impossible Runway Cafe

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Robert Irvine visits the Runaway Cafe in Greenville, South Carolina.

Runaway Cafe is owned by Mike and Lem.

They are old friends from college.

They came together to open a restaurant in the airport in 2010.

Mike had some experience running a food service business.

After they opened up, a playground was opened nearby.

Families became their main customers but this was not their vision.

They had to switch from high-end food to simple dishes for kids.

This is reducing their bottom line.

The atmosphere is also chasing away their ideal clientele.

They both have families dependent on them.

They have not made any money since they opened.

Robert arrives in an aeroplane, flying into the restaurant.

The sign outside the restaurant is beaten up.

Inside the place is a state with lots of signs and no theme to the decor.

He sits with the owners, who tell him their story.

They begin a service so that Robert can see how they function.

The service is extremely slow, with one server taking orders slowly.

The kitchen is dead until they are bombarded with orders.

Twenty minutes into the service and only 5 tables have been served.

With the wait, children start to have meltdowns.

An hour later and a lot of people still have not been served.

Robert shuts down the service but first speaks with the customers in front of the owners.

They say the food and the restaurant are mediocre and they would not consider coming back.

One customer works in PR and she says she had never and would never send a reviewer to the restaurant.

Robert sits to order food from the menu.

He is not impressed by the food.

It lacks seasoning, meat is overcooked and he thinks overall that it is mediocre.

He gives the owners feedback and says if they did better food their clientele would come back.

The design team of Tom and Lynn come in to see the space.

They are surprised by the classic planes and the airport is quite busy.

Robert points out how tacky the place is.

They all agree the homage to classic planes can be done better.

Staff and volunteers come in to empty the space.

The model planes are taken down carefully.

Robert sits with the owners to dig into their mood.

They seem to have lost their passion, which has made the food bland.

They are more focused on their families and leave the business to go in whatever direction.

Robert shows them they should target dinner service for adults.

If they can do this then they will make enough money to stay in business.

Robert asks Mike to make him soup in the hopes of reigniting his passion.

He makes a black bean soup for Robert.

Robert likes it and gives him ideas of some tweaks to make it better.

Once he elevated it Mike had a taste and he loved it.

Mike is excited at the praise Robert gives him.

Robert asks Mike and Lem to bring their wives to the next meeting at sunset.

The soup is served to the others and they also love it.

Robert asks the wives to contribute their thoughts on what has happened to the business.

He gives them the assignment to figure out how to revitalise their passions for the business.

Robert checks in on his design teams and they have made some progress and outlined their plans for the space.

The next day, Robert checks in on Mike and Lem who talked with their supportive wives.

They still have reservations about the unruly kids.

Robert gives them small tips to keep children occupied.

They will make some simple lunch boxes they give to the kids outside at the playground.

They can add some quick and easy snacks for the kids in the restaurant so they don't get hangry.

Robert then checks in on his team.

They have created a control tower bar area with a radar background and some plane blueprint wallpapers.

Mike and Lem have been kept busy with making the lunch boxes.

They gather some children and give out some to get feedback on how they like it.

The parents love it as they would not need to enter the restaurant.

Mike and Lem are kicking themselves for not thinking of it themselves.

Robert is happy to see the energy and enthusiasm return to the pair.

Next, he takes them through making a quick and easy entree for kids.

They make a sesame-crusted fish, a chipotle chicken sandwich and a Bistro Steak.

The pair love the dishes as it is what they initially envisioned the restaurant to serve.

Robert joins his design team to help them finish up the final touches.

At sundown Robert takes the owners into the space, which is anything but bland.

It is industrial with several airport elements.

The windows are from the hangars, the fans are propellers and the wallpapers are real plane blueprints.

The pair are impressed and are speechless at the new look.

They love all that the design team have done.

On relaunch, they excitedly let in the customers who have all come with their kids in tow.

The owners’ families also love the look, especially the kids.

Orders come in quickly and it is a joy to see Mike and Lem thrive in their roles.

The food is made very well and is sent out quickly.

They keep the kids happy by telling the parents of the box lunches.

The parents and kids love the dishes and give great reviews.

Mike and Lem have changed their tune saying if every day is like that night they do not want to sell.

What Happened Next at Runway Cafe?

Two months later, sales were up 15%.

The new dinner service, box lunches and cheesy bread continue to help the business grow.

Mike left the business to focus on family.

Lem is now the sole owner and is hopeful for the future.

Runway Cafe is open.

Reviews are very positive.

Runway Cafe is Restaurant Impossible season 22 episode 12 and aired on 16th March 2023.

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