Sunday, August 25, 2013

Restaurant Impossible - Aponte's Pizzeria Update

Restaurant Impossible Aponte'sTonight on the season 6 finale of Restaurant Impossible, Robert Irvine and crew are going to Mason, Ohio to makeover Aponte's Pizzeria Restaurant.  The owner Tony bought the restaurant eight years ago despite already being in debt.  Tony is from New Jersey and supposedly has the attitude and edge to prove it, so we will have to see if that causes any conflicts with Robert.  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Aponte's Pizzeria to get an idea of how the restaurant is doing since Robert Irvine visited, and here is what I found (note - all reviews are post Restaurant Impossible):


Positive Reviews
  • "We always loved Apontes before and love it even more now.  The greens salad was delicious with amazing dressings.  The pizza is not exactly the same as before but just as good.  The service also was very attentive in spite of how busy the place was.  We look forward to trying many more items on the new menu and love the new look.  Still great food for a great value"
  • "Robert Irvine, Restaurant Impossible, just came in and revamped the interior - it's fresh and airy feeling. We loved the old menu and many of our favorites are on the new menu. We're going to wait patiently for the return of his fantastic eggplant parmesan, though! We'll be back, many times!"
  • "Tried the "new" restaurant and the food was as good as ever (best in Cinci) but disappointed that the menu is so limited. Had the new pizza, and while it was absolutely delicious, the price was way too high for pizza....The place looks really pretty now, but the show did not do justice to the menu. There are too many fine dining restaurants in the area already, but there was only one Apontes."

Negative Reviews
  • "As a born n raised Yankee I have loved Apontes.  But since Restaurant Impossible has been their they have raised their prices.  Two pizzas came to $50!!...They were always busy, and now they have lost at least one family of customers!"
  • "This place is a freaking joke now.... Went in on a Friday night and was handed a piece of paper menu which had about 9 items on it, followed up by the waitress telling us the only thing they have for the night is 18 inch pizza they are out of everything else...This use to be a place with great food now it looks like a cheap ikea remodel with a terrible menu not a restaurant impossible remodel... I've been a long time customer but not any more you've lost my business Tony..."
  • "I stopped by the recently redone place and they have completely redone the menu, increased the prices, and decreased the quality. The pizza was extremely tough.... I use to love this place and recommended it to all my friends but I will not be going back."
  • "Was very disappointed in the recent changes to the menu and the products served. Felt like we were eating cardboard.... Until the owner changes back to what he had, we have made our last visit. The interior was upgraded which is very nice. The product and the menu changes are a disaster."
  • "SHAME SHAME SHAME ON RESTAURANT IMPOSSIBLE. The same pizza they used to sell you for $15 is now $25 AND they won't bring it to you anymore AND it takes twice as long to make...This "makeover" is sad. I want my old Aponte's back. As for now, no freaking way. The show should be called "To Kill A Business" or "The Geniuses at Food Network Drove Our Customers Away"."
  • "Dear Aponte's, you were cool. I could see altering the menu...dwindling it down a bit. Maybe raising some prices but that's it. Did you even read previous Yelp reviews to see what was being raved about? Totally changed the garlic knots, WHY!? Remember nothing is permanent, you can take what little good advice R.I. had, which was smalling the menu down. Everything else...BRING IT BACK! Let me know when you do that and I'll be back. Until then, I'M OUT!"
  • "I don't know if this has changed management/owners, but the owner from past years was from Irvington, NJ and knew how to make a good pizza. This place needs to go back to those roots."
  • "Was a nice neighborhood pizza place. Now Ruined by reality TV...Sorry but some things were right the way they were."
 *Reviews from Tripadvisor, Yelp, Urbanspoon

Other Stories

From a story on Masonbuzz.com, Tony said business boomed for several weeks after taping, but the restaurant saw a slow-down in July.  He’s hoping sales pick up after the episode airs.  It was also noted that Tony's wife was the one who submitted the application to get Aponte's Pizzeria on Restaurant Impossible.  Tony said, "They wanted to see the reaction between me and Robert"

Conclusion:

The reviews of Aponte's Pizzeria before Robert came to visit were very good and many people rave about the pizza calling it the best in town.  Pretty much all of the negative reviews are because customers do not like the changes to the pizza, the menu, and the higher prices.  Some people have complaints about the new sauce despite the only change to the sauce is switch from dried herbs to fresh herbs according to Aponte's Facebook page.  People also want other items back on the menu such as build your own calzones, and Aponte's plans to add some items back to the menu.

Another thing that has old customers angry is that Aponte's is now closed during the week at lunch time and has also stopped delivery.  We will see if Restaurant Impossible addresses these issues during the episode to see why that was recommended.  Being a Pizzeria, having repeat customers and having delivery is probably crucial to business unless they are trying to make it more upscale now.

It seems like Aponte's Pizzeria may have been better off before Restaurant Impossible came, and they have angered a lot of their loyal customer base with the changes that were implemented.  There are probably other issues that Restaurant Impossible will address, or maybe they were picked to be on the show because of Tony's 'attitude' and it makes for good TV, because by looking at the reviews before the visit, it didn't seem like they were struggling.


UPDATE 12/2013 - In a recent local article, Tony said "I’ve had to cut back, and I still have a situation with the IRS. I’ve just let two people go.  I will keep the doors open until my luck runs out.”  He also said business was at an all-time low with sales down 30 percent over the last year, and that he still owes the IRS back taxes of about $100,000.  Right after the show, sales were about 65% higher for two weeks, but business eventually slowed.



*Visit Our Restaurant Impossible Update Page to see all Restaurant Impossible Updates, and which restaurants are open, closed, or have been sold.  Also Like Us on Facebook  and  Follow Us on Twitter 

61 comments:

  1. $25 for a pizza?! If true, no wonder the restaurant is struggling more post-renovation. It also makes me wonder what is on said pizza to make it so expensive. If it isn't anything unique, and only a price hike to try and make a few extra $$ it'd explain the client's alienation.

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  2. Unfortunately, raising prices and paring down the menu seem to be pretty standard practices for RI.


    I don't know a dang thing about restaurant management, so I suppose some of those things may be warranted. However, it seems to be RI seems hell bent in turning all the restaurants into fine dining establishments, and that sometimes isn't the formula wanted or needed. Not every restaurant or locale can support $25 prices.

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  3. I've complained about Irvine turning a lot of the restaurants into fine dining before, for the reason that you listed above. That said, I suspect that it's because a lot of these places are in so much debt that he's pricing it so they make enough of a profit to pay it down; something that's probably more difficult in lower end restaurants.


    As far as trimming the menu, I'm 100% in favor of that, because it makes perfect sense.The fewer dishes you have (or conversely the more dishes you can make with fewer ingredients) the lower your food costs because you don't have wasted product that you bought for items that aren't selling.

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  4. You are probably right about the prices thing, but in this case (for instance) I don't know many people that would pay $25 for a pizza, certainly not very often. I just don't think many concepts can support that and you run the risk of turning off a lot of your customers (as shown here). So from an economics point of view, I suspect that you have to compromise between selling a lot at a lower margin, or a lot less at a higher margin. And I suspect that is driven by the type of food you sell.



    I will defer to you on the menu thing, like I said I really don't know the restaurant business.

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  5. I always imagine a mash up of this and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives....Guy on one side saying what charm the place has and how great everything is and Irvine on the other roid raging and bringing in silverware and china

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  6. Roid raging. That made me LOL.

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  7. $20-25 for a L-XL pizza in a single location/owner restaurant isn't that unusual. But, the pizzerias I've eaten at that charge those prices have outstanding pizzas. I have no problem paying those prices and going back. On the other hand, those kind of prices at a pizza chain. No. They aren't even worth it at 50% off.

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  8. Michael Lindeen Jr.August 26, 2013 at 2:44 AM

    I think you guys hit it on the head. And that seems to be the main complaint after RI leaves. "It's too expensive!" Not every place can be made into a fine dining establishment, especially when most of the places he goes to are "mom and pop" type restaurants in small towns. So yeah. I'm OK with paring the menu down but other than that, I think they sometimes are a little bit too much "one size fits all". Not every city can handle a place with $25 pizzas, especially small towns

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  9. Maybe in a big city. Mason, OH is a small town. I just don't think it can support it.

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  10. I think the problem with a lot of makeover shows is that the TV teams are usually blissfully unaware of the local culture and seem to think one size fits all.

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  11. Interesting that even the positive post-RI reviews have disclaimers that indicate the food was just fine before Irvine got there.

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  12. Yeah, something was fishy about this episode. No explanation of why they stopped delivering and why they closed for lunch during the week either.

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  13. I watch these shows and the first things that come to my mind usually are: do these people even watch the shows before they apply to be on them - most of the owners seem surprised at the way they are treated AND if the regulars were regular enough the business wouldn't be in trouble.

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  14. "Tony is from New Jersey and supposedly has the attitude and edge to prove it" -- As a 60-year Garden State resident, I am disappointed that the "New Jersey stereotype" apparently has surfaced on this site. What attitude are you speaking about? Those of the thousands of kind people who pitched in to help Hurricane Sandy and Oklahoma tornado victims? Try straying off the New Jersey Turnpike and see what NJ is really like. Don't judge us by Snooky and other tv rubbish.

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  15. No one is judging anyone here. It was on the Food Network description of the show here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/restaurant-impossible/pie-in-the-sky/index.html
    That is why I said supposedly.

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  16. I suspect that by now those restaurants do it for the free publicity. And FN selects them based on how bad the make the owners look. In this episode it was clearly because they thought the owner had the personality that would rage on TV and create ratings.

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  17. if it was so great before, why were the over $200k in debt? Where all those customers who are complaining before the change?

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  18. Just looked at Aponte's on Google Street View... You know what his number ONE problem is? A brand new DOMINO'S PIZZA directly across the street! THAT'S why they stopped delivering...

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  19. Mason has a population of 30,000 people (in the 2010 census) which is the same as my town and as WD said it is comparable to indie place's here who do a large pizza with a few toppings. Now there are some of cheapo places sell for less but their product isn't all that quality.

    Mason is also considered one of the more affluent areas around Cincinnati and ranked in several "best places to live" lists.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason,_Ohio

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  20. We aren't sure if the owners were in debt due to the restaurant or due to issues outside the restaurant as that was not addressed on the show. Usually Robert addresses food cost, waste, etc. and goes over the books, but in this episode, the reasons for the debt weren't clear.

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  21. Didn't Tony mention at the start about owing $100,000 to a loan shark, with a 30% interest rate? Something's going on.

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  22. So I guess it's possible that it could support it. I don't know. The reviews seem to indicate that a lot of people don't appreciate it.

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  23. That Domino's has been there for years. Their pizza is just awful and I'd take Aponte's over that any day.

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  24. Aponte's had been our favorite pizza place for years, and my husband and I were both regulars and got to know Tony on a friendly basis (great guy!). Originally from NJ myself, I'd been looking for that type of pizza for years and was elated when we tasted his pizza. The pizza we tasted after the show tasted more like the standard delivery franchises that I hate. And $25 was ridiculous for a pizza. We spend less than that everywhere else in town and get much more than pizza. Watching Robert try the food, it looked like he was ready to yell "crap!" before even tasting it from the look on his face. Now I can't speak to the other Italian food he made, but Tony's pizzas were always wonderful.



    We had been going to Aponte's since before they relocated to their current location and I have to wonder if that caused the financial difficulty. They used to be outside of town next to a bar with a pass-through window so bar patrons were buying pizza also. Renting right in town had to be a higher cost, and they also lost the bar business.


    Anyway, I do hope they succeed and hopefully bring back my pizza if all the other changes stay the same. Glad they did change that entry door. It really was confusing for first time visitors.

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  25. The Rev. Jackson JrAugust 28, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    Typical jersey boy

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  26. The Rev. Jackson JrAugust 28, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    Forget about it

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  27. I am a sales and marketing manager and I just want to point out it appears that all the negative reviews in the article above were written by the same person. Very similar writing style which is not common

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  28. I find it amazing that supposedly all these people loved the food before. If that were true, where were they when the restaurant was failing. $25 for a good pizza is the going price nowadays. Keep up the good work Chef Irvine.

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  29. I don't agree. I live in a town of 15,000 in Northern Minnesota. Our local pizza place charged $24 for an extra large pizza. And we order from them more often than I would care to admit (about 1x week). Is is more expensive than pizza hut? Sure, but it's much better, so we pay a bit more. And this place has been open for 25 years, and is always busy.

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  30. He has shown on many episodes why he prices food the way he does. It's based on food cost and overhead. If you are selling things at a loss it doesn't make any sense. I think that's why many of these places are probably in trouble in the first place.

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  31. Good lord, people write multiple negative reviews for one single location? I've written honest reviews but never with the intention to run somebody out of business or force change. I feel bad for the guy, it seems like a lose lose situation.

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  32. Considering you have to register to leave reviews and they are all under different names, I don't think Jdog is right. He said he was a sales and marketing manager, not a detective.

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  33. I don't think it's that hard to register multiple names on different websites to post reviews nowadays. You'd be surprised, but people post bad reviews on other places to drive more business for themselves.

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  34. Old World Italian has closed -- u need to update.

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  35. Well, if your to cheap to pay the price for people's hard effort to feed you, than yes stay home and cook yourself. It appears that the people commenting on this website don't like to pay their way in life and look to their parents to support them daily. Grow up restaurants cost money, so if you want the dollar menu go to McDonalds, they would love your business.

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  36. McDonalds is open for business.

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  37. Wendy's is open for business.

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  38. Yea, someone who has eaten out.

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  39. They do their just desperate, because they have screwed this up and now they really need help, when they should have done their homework. Stay in school kids it does help.

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  40. Ignore the crowed, if a person comes off as a jerk, than admit they are a jerk and not the city. Plenty of them here were I live, too.

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  41. Now, see I hate Domino's Pizza and would pay 25 for a great pizza, they would have my business before some nasty Domino's.

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  42. There must be alot places in town must be in trouble. No one there wants to pay for peoples hard effort. Eat McDonalds alot, LOL.

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  43. Aponte's update: We figured the weekend following the show would be busy so we stopped in to see what might have changed since our last visit. The parking lot was full and 9 people were waiting ahead of us at lunch time. Two of the six tables in the first room had folks eating, and a few of the other tables had dirty dishes on them. They had one waitress and we waited, and waited. Six people ahead of us walked out. Tony's daughter came and cleaned up some tables and sat us. Meanwhile, Tony posted a sign at the door that they were closed until 4. They had no staff to handle the diners. We watched over 20 folks come to the door and be turned away while we were there.


    They have cut back their pizza price from $25 to $18 for a large, which made us happy. But we opted instead this time to try calzones, which we both thought were very good.


    This weekend really was their golden opportunity. Some of the people in front of us that had left commented that they hadn't been there before and came because of the show. Seemed to be staffing issues more than anything that might be the problem. They lost a lot of business yesterday.

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  44. The waitress told us "we can't please everybody.." 15 dollars for a 10" pizza? When i eat ,my pizza, I do not want the sauce to taste like spaghetti sauce from a jar. It was a Sunday afternoon, hardly anyone in the place and the service was very slow. would we go back again, no.

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  45. Aponte's is open for lunch and it does deliver. Pizza's range from $12-$25. The theme of the episode was "people don't like change". And we cheer when a stubborn owner, boss or manager starts to "get it". Now it is the customer's turn.

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  46. It is always astounding to see how many vicious people 'demand' that a restaurant 'go back' to who they were, before the makeover - or threaten "I'm not eating there anymore!!" They were going broke people. If you loved it so much, then why didn't you give them more of your business, eating their sorry dried herbs rather than fresh, so that the makeover was not necessary. At least they are trying to do something about it, by going upscale. If you prefer Dominos prices and decor, then just eat at Dominos.

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  47. Yep, that's about average for a large or extra large where I'm at! It all depends on the pizzeria!

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  48. Domino's used to have reasonably decent pizzas for the price long ago. Oddly enough,
    one of the best pizza's I've had was an Extravaganza I had delivered
    late night to a hotel in Downtown Milwaukee (was hungry after going to a
    concert there and they were all that was available at that hour). Since they changed the way they make them, they are awful. I ordered one after the change and their new chicken strips (they were awful too). I even took the survey they send an e-mail about afterwards. I got a call from the manager within minutes. I told him what I thought and he offered me another order free to try in case they had just had a bad day. I accepted. They didn't have a bad day, just bad pizza and chicken. I haven't ordered from them since.

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  49. What do you guys expect to happen in 2 days time to fix businesses that have been failing for months or even years? I have watched some episodes that not only have restaurant management issues but relationship issues. And RI can fix all that in 2 days? Give me a break. Its just for show with only a handful of businesses that come out of this heads up.

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  50. get it right folks he's not pricing he just teaches the fundimentals 3x food cost/overheadstaff last time i ordered a pizza from pizza hut it was $23 with a coupon. If it was doing so well before RI why did they need him?

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  51. I have worked in restaurants off and on in the 80s and 90s.I have worked for many restaurants that have failed for the same reasons that I have seen on this show.Have worked for upscale dinning and fine dinning.As for RI turning them in to fine dinning is not true.If anything he has taken some that were doing fine dinning and down scaled them into casual .High prices don't translate into fine dinning.

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  52. P.s. also have worked for a Restaurant that has been in business in home town for 50 or so years.thy stayed in business because thy aare casual and thy have upgraded menu and décor.

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  53. They were ready toclose the restaurant ina week or two. Where were alll the OLD customers then? Now everyone complains.... At all these restaurants, they all were to close, yet again where were all these LOYAL OLD custumers....maybe if they (the owners) would maintain everything in place like Robert left, they would do much better! Stop your whinning, enjoy your new free look, especially all the rotten food and bacteria removed as well, and get to work and also more PR!

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  54. You are wise young man. I agree 100% with what you said.

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  55. Wow this is disappointing. Statistically the restaurants do "better", perhaps in prat from exposure, but to hear that some renovated in order to sell and others have failed after the ch anger is disappointing to hear. :'(

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  56. also, it is obvious that the front "trellis" was placed just prior to filming…one thing I hate about reality TV is the gimmickry by the production team to make episodes more"tv friendly". It is hogwash

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  57. Domino's used to make a decent pizza, but has gone wayyyy downhill. It's one of few pizza places I will not order from.

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  58. Stupid comment. Your pricing idea isn't the only one out there, and it doesn't seem to be the one that works either. In this economy people expect a better value and if one restaurant doesn't deliver it, another will. It has nothing to do with parental support or McDonald's or any of that other nonsense.

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  59. Stay in school, says the guy who can't use "they're" properly in a sentence.

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  60. Honestly I think the place needed an update, I can't believe people were eating there. It was disgusting and the remodeling was really nice. However I think that 25 for a pizza is too much. I think they should have used this remodel to bring in more business and get back on their feet. He needs to realize he is in a small town restaurant, not an upscale city restaurant. It seemed like he was doing well and shouldn't have gotten in so much debt. I think there was something else going on because with all these repeat customers and outraged former customers he shouldn't have been in so much debt.


    Also rotten mushrooms? Absolutely gross.

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  61. The menus tend to me smaller so restaurants can keep and use fresh items. If the menu is huge (like chain restaurants) that is generally a red flag that everything is frozen.

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