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#451

Raider Duck

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 10:58 AM

According to the comments on the Food Network site, Valley View was fine for a month or two after Robert left; the new and returning customers he brought in became regulars and it prospered. Then they went back to using frozen ingredients again, and their new regulars quietly deserted them. In Mid-February they fired that clueless teenager "head chef" and brought in a real chef who could cook real food, but the restaurant's reputation had already been destroyed amongst the locals, and it's not like an establishment in Pennsylvania farm country is going to get a lot of drive-by business. Just a shame.

And (rant coming) I will never for the life of me understand WHY, when Robert comes in and shows restaurant staff how to make fresh food economically, they would EVER EVER EVER in a million years go back to frozen and canned crap. People can easily make that at home for much cheaper than a dining establishment would charge. Customers pay good money and go to the bother of driving to a restaurant so they can eat fresh, freshly-prepared food that can't always be easily made at home. What Valley View did would be the equivalent of a movie theater charging standard admission to watch a year-old movie on a television set; nobody would come because they can do that at home for free. If you're going to charge people, you need to provide them with something they can't get at home. /rant

Bottom line: Another set of owners too stupid to live. Were I a restauranteur, I would be embarrassed to be in the same line of work as these schmucks.

ETA: Check out this Yelp review written a few weeks before Valley View's closing. They had actually crossed out half the items on the menu. Anyone want to bet that was the half that couldn't be made at all with frozen and canned ingredients, and they kept the items that could be made that way (albeit at substandard quality)? My respect for these owners, already at a 2 (on a scale from 1 to 10), just dropped another five points.

Edited by Raider Duck, Mar 15, 2012 @ 11:27 AM.

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#452

runningoutofnam

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 3:09 PM

In Mid-February they fired that clueless teenager "head chef"


He looked like your stereotypical Marine candidate who was only good for being cannon fodder. Saying Robert cooks exotic things? Uh no Robert doesn't cook exotic things. He isn't a Michelin starred chef with restaurants all over the world who knows how to cook several thousand dishes from various cultures plus has eaten tons of things that you will never eat in your life. He is a down home country cook who shows restaurants how to serve basic things.
Then he has the nerve to think he can make frozen food taste good and challenge Robert.

What a idiot!
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#453

psychoticstate

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 6:24 PM

I always hate hearing how someone elderly has invested all of their life savings into keeping a business like this going. Sad.

I was very surprised that the restaurant didn't just focus on breakfast, given how Robert hit on the fact to the owners that the breakfast dishes were their biggest sellers. It seems that they could have done breakfast for a lot cheaper than lunch/dinner. They still could have used the buffet station and created a breakfast buffet with standards like pancakes, french toast, some fruit, oatmeal, etc. and had things like breakfast sandwiches, omelets and the like on the menu.
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#454

maineiac

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 7:03 PM

I thought Irvine came off like a bully in this episode. That 18 yo cook seemed to me to be a little *slow (as did several people in the show) and the exchange between them in the kitchen was making me cringe.

I'm still trying to figure out where the million bucks went. The place was a dump and falling apart.

Edited by maineiac, Mar 15, 2012 @ 7:04 PM.

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#455

Raider Duck

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 8:28 PM

I always hate hearing how someone elderly has invested all of their life savings into keeping a business like this going. Sad.

It's wonderful that the grandmother was so supportive of her family, but at some point you've got to look after yourself as well.

I was very surprised that the restaurant didn't just focus on breakfast, given how Robert hit on the fact to the owners that the breakfast dishes were their biggest sellers. It seems that they could have done breakfast for a lot cheaper than lunch/dinner. They still could have used the buffet station and created a breakfast buffet with standards like pancakes, french toast, some fruit, oatmeal, etc. and had things like breakfast sandwiches, omelets and the like on the menu.

The problem is that it's hard to run a restaurant solely off breakfasts. The individual breakfast items don't sell for that much, and people are usually getting them on the way to work so they're not going to stick around for drinks and dessert. Breakfasts can be a nice supplemental moneymaker, but the real income is in dinners.

I thought Irvine came off like a bully in this episode. That 18 yo cook seemed to me to be a little *slow (as did several people in the show) and the exchange between them in the kitchen was making me cringe.

He tells the kid that frozen food is crap, and the kid gets in Robert's face? Maybe Robert was a little rough, but "rough" was needed in that instance. That teenage chef was full of "Rebel Without a Clue" attitude and needed to be backed down.

I'm still trying to figure out where the million bucks went. The place was a dump and falling apart.

Restaurants can be real money pits if you don't know what you're doing. You're selling an item that requires constant turnover and will spoil if not sold. There's enormous gas, water and electric bills and who knows what some rural outfit is charging (I'm pretty sure I saw a huge propane tank on the side of the place, and that's a more expensive way to buy it). Add incorrect pricing and paying through the nose for frozen food, and the $$$ can go shockingly fast.
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#456

Lola16

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 8:34 PM

Just saw The Flood Tide --- man what ugly decor in the make-over! Plaid painted woodwork? EEEEEEEEEEEEK.
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#457

runningoutofnam

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 8:51 PM

I'm still trying to figure out where the million bucks went. The place was a dump and falling apart.


Part of that say half a million was from the adding of one room and renovation that Robert said they had gotten ripped off on.

(I'm pretty sure I saw a huge propane tank on the side of the place, and that's a more expensive way to buy it)


Yeah that was likely the propane storage tank. They had burners and they looked like they were using gas.

but the real income is in dinners

Depending upon the area and how fast they can be knocked out lunch crowd can be a huge money maker. They were selling breakfast a lot however the money on it was slim to the point where they were actually losing it due to foodcosts from the frozen stuff.

Robert was right when he asked, how did they manage to survive 28 years of doing this?

Just saw The Flood Tide --- man what ugly decor in the make-over! Plaid painted woodwork? EEEEEEEEEEEEK.


Those two do appear again. So prepare for more decor horror!

Edited by runningoutofnam, Mar 15, 2012 @ 8:45 PM.

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#458

LivenLetLive

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 9:15 PM

I think that Robert does the "tough love" thing very well actually, and when you think about it, he functions like a therapist when he comes into these places, of course he is there for such a short time that only the truly motivated will profit from his advice. Also, I think that his fresh, simple recipes are genius, and I am actually shocked at how little most of the cooks at these joints know about preparing a simple meal.
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#459

llcoolray3000

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 9:39 PM

About Valley View surviving 28 years and serving frozen food....

Were they preparing frozen/canned food from the very start? I guessed that they started off selling fresh food, but at some point their business took a downturn. Then they switched to frozen/canned with the mindset that they were saving money because they could prepare as needed without having to discard expired fresh items. Then that would be my guess as to why the went back to frozen even after Robert's advice seemed to be working. They were having to throw out expired fresh items, forgetting how inexpensive they were compared to frozen, and felt like they were losing money. Either that, or they just got lazy and paid the price. Their location was too terrible for laziness to last long.
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#460

TryingHarder

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 10:40 PM

Just saw The Flood Tide --- man what ugly decor in the make-over

Wasnt that sad! The makeover was awful !
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#461

runningoutofnam

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Posted Mar 15, 2012 @ 11:17 PM

Their location was too terrible for laziness to last long.


At the end you had some customers say the food had been terrible there for eight years. If that was the only location to go to then yeah you would have people going there to eat. It's like certain truck stops people stop there to eat just to get their belly full not to enjoy the meal.
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#462

Ginandtonic

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 3:28 AM

I finally got around to watching the Valley View episode. I can't believe they were serving that horrible food for years, & the baby chef was just a jerk, I mean what kind of chef doesn't know fresh is better?. I know at the end everybody said how much better the food was, but they show a kid eating a fried chicken drumstick, & it was clearly raw near the bone, so I'm not sure they actually caught on how to improve the cooking.

Was I just imagining it or did the grandmother have a black eye at the end?
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#463

runningoutofnam

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 4:11 AM

but they show a kid eating a fried chicken drumstick, & it was clearly raw near the bone, so I'm not sure they actually caught on how to improve the cooking.


It didn't look raw to me. No she didn't have a black eye.
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#464

katnapped

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 9:50 AM

If that was the only location to go to then yeah you would have people going there to eat.


Somewhere else, somebody said there's only a pizza place nearby. I know there's very few chain restaurants (BK, McD's, etc) down in that area.

As for the propane tank, that's what you've got in rural parts of the state.

Edited by katnapped, Mar 16, 2012 @ 9:52 AM.

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#465

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 11:28 AM

Never watched this show yet, but saw in our paper that RI recently visited a local steakhouse, The Longbranch, which had their grand re-opening yesterday. I can't wait to see how bad it was run, as I can only imagine from what we know of the owner and his attitude.
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#466

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 12:35 PM

If that was the only location to go to then yeah you would have people going there to eat. It's like certain truck stops people stop there to eat just to get their belly full not to enjoy the meal.


What town/city your restaurant is located in seems to make a big difference in all of these places. If you're somewhere like Jacksonville, FL (didn't RI help a place there?), and you are trying to make a go of a seafood restaurant, you better make damn sure that seafood is fresh, the price is right and that you offer just a few more items that you can cook well and quickly, to make a go of it. If your place is in Podunk, it seems to me that if you listen to Robert and accept his suggestions and implement them, you will do even better than those who just stop there because it's the only place in town to eat.

It seemed to me with this last week's place that they could have implemented the menu changes and at least tried to build their reputation back. But the mother who was the kitchen manager had too many issues. When the wait staff all raised their hands, in response that they were scared to tell her when an order was wrong, the way they slowly raised their hands was as if they were terrified of her. That kind of personality is very hard to change. (Shades of Marianne, the whining, yelling, self-martyring witch)

I also will never, ever understand the people (especially when it is a much older person, as in this case) that sink their retirement, house, property, savings, kids' college funds, or the worst of all, those who sink their parents' savings or retirement (i.e. Sweet Tea woman) into a restaurant that is going downhill very fast. It seems to me that the owners and/or parents of the owners of these places are inevitably going to have to file personal bankruptcy, which is sad to do because you/your spouse/your adult children/sibling, etc. won't give it up!

I wish they would take the $10K and use it wisely. When a restaurant has beautiful woodwork, clean it well and showcase it. Don't just throw some paint or wallpaper up there so it will be a TOTAL transformation, which is often hideous. If the restaurant just needs a fresh coat of paint, new carpet, etc., leave the rest for Robert to have a professional cleaning crew come in because most of these kitchens are a mess...that would save the staff from working on it (which they do in some episodes) and focus more on learning the menu and proper customer service. I also like when Robert goes through book-keeping, food costs and implements software to help them keep up with the income/outflow, as most are clueless or hopelessly behind. I always wonder if these people also owe the IRS, which is worse than owing the Mafia.

I also wish people could nominate restaurants for RI to come to. I know of quite a few that could use a little Irvine shake-up.
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#467

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 1:58 PM

Just caught the new episode. I agree with who ever said the 19 year old cook must have been a little slow, because there was no light in his eyes, and he spoke at a snail's pace. Something was off about that boy.

I'm sorry to hear the family no longer has the restaurant, but hey, it was their own damn fault. I will *never* understand how people can go back to canned/frozen shit after Robert shows them how much better and cheaper fresh food is. You're an idiot if you think you won't lose customers that way, so my sympathy only extends so far.

Overall, it was a pretty boring episode. The whole family seemed creepy and monotone...it was weird.
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#468

dog3mom

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 2:49 PM

when restaurants are losing money monthly, wouldn't it be more economical to close their doors before they lose everything?
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#469

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 3:13 PM

I think the grandmother did have a black eye. My first thought was "Is that granny wearing yellow eyeshadow?". Then when I looked more, it was only on one side. She had makeup covering it, but I could definitely see a black eye under there.

Much as I hate to say it, I also thought the 'chef' might have been delayed in some mental way.
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#470

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 4:38 PM

when restaurants are losing money monthly, wouldn't it be more economical to close their doors before they lose everything?


This. When you say "We're losing $5,000 a month," the next words should be, 'And we're closing at the end of business today.' I just don't get this throwing good money after bad. Also, some of these restaurants that have been around for years, I'm sure the owners would like to keep them around, but there is a cycle to everything. Maybe it's just time to close up and look back on a wonderful past instead of spiraling down into debt and despair.
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#471

orchidgal

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 4:58 PM

I'm sorry to hear the family no longer has the restaurant, but hey, it was their own damn fault. I will *never* understand how people can go back to canned/frozen shit after Robert shows them how much better and cheaper fresh food is.

I think it all comes down to laziness. It is just easier to open a can, hydrate a powdered mix, thaw a frozen food product, than it is to prep real ingredients each day - that is unless you are used to prepping the real foods. And as Robert has pointed out numerous times, fresh ingredients are much cheaper to use than the processed and frozen foods.

So in the end, the only reasoning I can find for these owners returning to their old ways is laziness, or craziness. Why chop veggies when they can just open a can? The fact that it wasn't working for them before never seems to sink into their brains.*

*A wise person once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
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#472

runningoutofnam

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 7:00 PM

I agree with who ever said the 19 year old cook must have been a little slow, because there was no light in his eyes, and he spoke at a snail's pace. Something was off about that boy.


Nah that is just how a lot of people from rural areas speak in my experience.



., leave the rest for Robert to have a professional cleaning crew come in because most of these kitchens are a mess...that would save the staff from working on it (which they do in some episodes)


One of the things the staff needs to learn and make a habit is cleaning the kitchen. Usually they only have a day or half a day to learn the menu anyway. It's not complicated stuff.

It seemed to me with this last week's place that they could have implemented the menu changes and at least tried to build their reputation back.


Apparently they did but according to comments the 19 year old chef went back to frozen stuff and the rep was damaged. They replaced him and tried to build up but by then the people had been burned and didn't go back. If they hadn't gone back to frozen they would have still been around.

The Longbranch, which had their grand re-opening yesterday. I can't wait to see how bad it was run, as I can only imagine from what we know of the owner and his attitude.


Can you provide details about the owner and attitude?
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#473

cmm226

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 7:01 PM

This. When you say "We're losing $5,000 a month," the next words should be, 'And we're closing at the end of business today.' I just don't get this throwing good money after bad.

I also don't understand the waiters & waitresses who stay. Aren't tips really important to their income? If they're getting 5 tables total on a Friday, I think it's time to walk away.
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#474

runningoutofnam

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 7:24 PM

Finding jobs can be hard. A little bit of money is better then none.

There is something called the Hot Waitress Economic Index. It states that in bad times the waitresses at certain places get lot prettier because the employers of those places want the eye candy to attract male customers and due to the bad economy the pretty woman who would ordinarily not take those jobs take them. The unattractive and male waitstaff find employment chance much reduced.

http://www.cracked.c...c-collapse.html details with links The Hot Waitress Index and Tie Colors Turn Bland

Yes those are two of the seven bizarre trends that predict economic collapse.
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#475

llcoolray3000

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 9:35 PM

I'm with everyone who doesn't get how these people can be hemorrhaging money and continue doing things the same way and hope it will magically turn around for them. It's been a head scratcher since the very first episode.

I guess it just comes down to a lack of understanding economics 101. Profits mean you are making good decisions and satisfying demand. Losses mean you are making poor decisions and failing to satisfy demand. They always blame losses on extenral causes - mostly The Bad Economy. If it was that simple and there was nothing they could do about it, then all restaurants would be failing.
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#476

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 10:01 PM

Valley View was just a lost cause. For starters, if the establishment had been doing things "the way they had for 28 years," then what's going to make them suddenly change? VV might have had a prayer of a chance if the grandmother and mother had gotten completely out of the picture and let the granddaughter run things. She seemed to at least be on the right track, but the older generations were suppressing her. Also, would being located in Amish country play a factor? It seems to me like it might.

OBTW, they never followed-up on the rodent/pest problem. If it was just one petrified dead mouse over x years, I guess that's OK, but still...

I think the best solution for that place would have been to sell the entire property and give the proceeds (which I'm sure would have been a significant loss) to the grandmother. If there was anything left, then the daughter and granddaughter could fight over it. I also hate to see when an elderly person has pissed away their life savings and retirement funds into keeping an anemic restaurant alive.

However, what I see is this oddity in the very fickle restaurant industry, is that the owners seem so overly invested in the business and constantly have to keep their hand in it. Maybe it is because owning a restaurant -- especially over generations -- is such blood, sweat and tears commitment. Got me. I'd eventually have to say, "Deal me out. Sink of swim." You have to take care of yourself.

Also, don't any of these places keep abreast of food trends? It seems rather parallel to fashion, home decor, etc. I understand that many non-chain restaurants have their famous/signature menu items. Fine. Keep the most popular and profit-generators on the menu, but continually update the other offerings. I'm not saying to go all El Bulli (sp? I'm sorry) and make everything into foam, (when that was momentarily popular) but at least make subtle incorporation into the menu.

The idea of a breakfast buffet that somebody posted was excellent and I think it would have totally worked if VV was located more centrally located to the hub of business (if there was one.) A Sunday brunch buffet would also be a good idea. I could see where people would head out for brunch after church, chores, etc. Breakfast items may be low margin, but maybe they could have compensated in volume.

Unfortunately, that smart-ass kid was probably the best of the slim pickin's that Valley View could find. Pick up any book like "Kitchen Confidential," "Heat," or "Waiter Rant," and you'll get the picture. You don't even have to read about it. Just ask somebody who's worked in a restaurant...

I am glad to hear that Valley View was sold and I hope that everybody recouped enough from the sale that they are able to live comfortably. I know that Robert, Tainya and Tom and company were all well compensated, but still, I'd be so disappointed by the outcome.

Regarding the overall show. I don't like the turn the show had taken where Robert has become an arm-chair shrink. I realize that he has the experience of knowing first-hand how stressful working in a restaurant is. Yes, he needs to address the short-comings of the owners/managers, but I think that is beyond his scope of experience. It would be more realistic if he (as he did in one show) show the manager how to best use the computer system. That was good. Usually, it's just basic business common sense stuff that is lacking -- like determining who is in charge, making work schedules, etc.

With Valley View, I would have preferred that Robert spent considerably more time with the back-house manager and "chef" to practice preparing the menu, then playing bean-bag darts in some cornfield.

Also, Robert has either been using the Grecian Formula for quite some time and has been fooling us, or this show has turned his hair gray. I noticed in the recent episode how gray he's become. Not that it's a bad thing. I actually think it looks better.

You know, what would make for an interesting show would be to have RI oversee everything, but stretch the $10K to the max. Why not invite graduating level students/apprentices in design, construction, hospitality management, culinary arts and law come in and do a mini internship? The show could still have the dramatic element of "will it be done in time?" but also make it less intimidating for the restaurant owners, managers and cooks. They'd still have Robert's critique and game plan, but there would be more time for one-on-one teaching.

I don't know... just a thought with a possible two-fold purpose.
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#477

runningoutofnam

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Posted Mar 16, 2012 @ 11:55 PM

OBTW, they never followed-up on the rodent/pest problem. If it was just one petrified dead mouse over x years, I guess that's OK, but still..


They did discuss it. The mouse was petrified and there were no signs of recent infestation. Tom stated he was plugging all holes which would take time.

Keep in mind 90% of what Irving or Ramsay does such as show food and give business lessons isn't shown on air.
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#478

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Posted Mar 17, 2012 @ 9:57 AM

The Longbranch, which had their grand re-opening yesterday. I can't wait to see how bad it was run, as I can only imagine from what we know of the owner and his attitude.
Can you provide details about the owner and attitude?


runningoutofnam, we have frequented this restaurant for most of the last 15 years. We haven't had that wide of a selection of restaurants until the last few years. The current owner is not friendly, only speaks to his buddies that are regular barflies. Several of the waitresses have been there since the first time we went, one is extremely rude on a regular basis, looks mad at the world, and doesn't check in on her customers more than twice (once right after the food is delivered, then to leave the bill); on the other hand, another is just the best - very personable, friendly, and excellent at her job (checks back frequently, refills pitchers - they leave pitchers of water or tea on your table), always has an easy smile and conversation. I had a problem with a steak I ordered, after having to wait for more than a few minutes to get attention, we finally got the attention of the owner. When I explained the problem, he said he couldn't help it, shrugged his shoulders and walked away. He didn't offer anything in compensation, which we thought was the least he could have done since we were frequent customers (but not any longer). I'm going to guess he will be a big reason the place is going downhill.
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#479

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Posted Mar 17, 2012 @ 11:28 AM

Just caught the new episode. I agree with who ever said the 19 year old cook must have been a little slow, because there was no light in his eyes, and he spoke at a snail's pace. Something was off about that boy.


I totally agree. I am convinced this youth has some sort of delays. It wasn't his slow speech for me as much as his blank, witless expression .
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#480

NoPity1066

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Posted Mar 17, 2012 @ 2:23 PM

Wow, grisgris, awesome post ! Just a few comments from me :

Also, don't any of these places keep abreast of food trends? It seems rather parallel to fashion, home decor, etc. I understand that many non-chain restaurants have their famous/signature menu items. Fine. Keep the most popular and profit-generators on the menu, but continually update the other offerings. I'm not saying to go all El Bulli (sp? I'm sorry) and make everything into foam, (when that was momentarily popular) but at least make subtle incorporation into the menu.


Agreed 100%. If you have a dish that's been successful for decades don't mess with it, but if it's lagging behind and not turning a profit then it's time to go. I recently had one of my favorite places totally change the composition and ingredients of the Famous Steak Salad that I've been eating there since 1984, and there was practically civil unrest here in NoPityCity ! It is like fashion - jettison the 80s shoulder pads but keep the LBD.

Unfortunately, that smart-ass kid was probably the best of the slim pickin's that Valley View could find. Pick up any book like "Kitchen Confidential," "Heat," or "Waiter Rant," and you'll get the picture. You don't even have to read about it. Just ask somebody who's worked in a restaurant...


So, so true. Restaurant work can be very fulfilling/rewarding, but it's also like 6th grade with sex and drugs. The hardest thing about running a place is staffing - you can have a brilliant, visionary chef and the friendliest, more productive server in the world, but it doesn't mean they won't be nailing each other in the pantry during service.

I also agree that the breakfast/brunch format can and does work in some markets, but I don't know the Valley View demography, so have to just guess at that. I frequent a breakfast-only place here, and it's a wildly successful family-run-and-owned chain with 6 locations in a city of less than a million people.

I wonder how much research Robert's team does pre-show with the restaurants. I'd imagine that would be pretty important, but I'm not in TV, so who knows ? What's big here right now are family-friendly places, locavore cheeseburgers, and selections of a thousand microbrews, and it wouldn't take more than five minutes of research to find that out. Then again, as Macthekat said about the Longbranch, I suppose it doesn't matter HOW much Robert does if the owner is clueless and indifferent.
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