Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Restaurant Impossible - Dog and Pony Ale House Update

Photo - Facebook
Tonight on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine and his crew are in Renton, Washington to makeover the Dog and Pony Ale House.  The owner Kristen, despite being smart, is allowing a vocal group of customers to influence her business decisions such as buying new restaurant equipment and changing the menu.  Kristen also has trust issues with her staff and supposedly owes "hundreds of thousands" to the IRS.  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Dog and Pony Ale House 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:
  • "A lot of people have been vocal one way or another about the remodel and I still like the place and for me not much has really changed. I go mainly for the beer and the bar and the regulars are still there and most seem to like the changes."
  • "Refreshed and better than ever.   Beer selection was stellar - a heavy emphasis on IPAs, but a great variety of styles to go along with it. Erin was nice to chat with and super-knowlegdable about beer.  Service was attentive but not overbearing.  Food was fine - nothing I ate was fantastic, but D&P has never been about the food for me.  They quite simply have the best beer selection between Seattle and Tacoma.  Judging it solely as a beer bar, it is a solid 4."
  • "So the place looks great with a nice pub feel, the beer selection is one of the best in the area and the food was great....Service was quick and friendly. Lunch time is a very busy time for this place with Boeing so close."


Negative Reviews:
  • "Here's the problem. The massive renovation was done in November. We visited on Jan. 24 and expected to see a whole new menu. Instead of keeping Chef Irvine's menu, they went back to their horrible food....Can't wait to see the truth on TV."
  • "Was super excited to try  the new menu... I left Monday telling everyone about the new menu and couldn't wait to return. Returned 2 days later to discover that the salmon lox tacos had been axed. Actually, the entire menu changed.... What a disappointment. They didn't give it chance. I was so looking forward to becoming a regular fan of the new food. The service left much to be desired too, which has been the case for a while now. Feels like they caved in and responded to the pressure from a few without giving the new menu enough time to attract new loyal customers."
  • "I am a Renton Homeowner and like to support local businesses but even after the "Restaurant Incredible" changes - it is still just so so!  We actually decided that it would be our last time.  What changed our mind?!  I saw the owner standing in the kitchen eating with her fingers, licking her fingers and then wiping them on her pants.  She DID NOT wash her hands and then continued helping customers with her dirty fingers she just had in her mouth!  GROSS!"
*Reviews from Yelp, Tripadvisor


Other News and Links:
  • The Restaurant Impossible makeover happened in late November 2014.
  • Here is the Dog and Pony Ale House Facebook Page, which lists itself as a bar.
  • Here is the Dog and Pony Ale House website, which has a drink menu, but does not have a food menu.
  • The makeover was on November 21st and 22nd, and on November 25th, they were already making changes to the Restaurant Impossible menu. (Link)
  • The owner Kristen has three adopted children, two from China and one from Ethiopia. (Link)
  • A local article announcing the makeover had a lot of comments, and people seemed to think the location was bad due to the parking situation and that it has gone downhill since the new owner (Kristen) took over. (Link)
  • This review said the bathrooms were recently re-done by Kristen and this review said they were putting the TVs back in the bar.
  • There was a local news story yesterday (2/10/2015) about a scam artist who is wanted in Washington.  She was a night manager at the Dog and Pony Ale House and is accused of stealing about $15,000 in cash and forging checks from the bar in late 2013.  Kristen Fisher, the owner of Dog and Pony, is interviewed in the news story. (Link)


Conclusion:

The reviews of Dog and Pony Ale House seem to be mixed with people liking the beer selection, but having issues with the food/menu and service.  With 32 beers on tap, I am sure more people come the Dog and Pony Ale House for their beer over their food.

The episode description does not say anything about employee theft, so it will be interesting to see if the topic comes up on the show.  Kristen blamed the theft for hurting her business a lot, but the $15,000+ figure is much less than the "hundreds of thousands" supposedly owed to the IRS.


*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

68 comments:

  1. "I am a Renton Homeowner and like to support local businesses but even after the "Restaurant Incredible" changes - it is still just so so! We actually decided that it would be our last time. What changed our mind?! I saw the owner standing in the kitchen eating with her fingers, licking her fingers and then wiping them on her pants. She DID NOT wash her hands and then continued helping customers with her dirty fingers she just had in her mouth! GROSS!"
    _________________
    Sounds like Guy Fierri

    ReplyDelete
  2. People make mistakes I wonder how things are at your house when you are cooking for family and friends. Do you maintain the same level of cleanliness you expect of others? As for the customers, they should be washing their hands before eating as they have touched much dirtier things than the owners hand before entering the restaurant. Many people forget about this when they are complaining about something small. I think it is great she licked her fingers it means the food is good:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. You go make that restaurant rock and have fun doing it as you were given an incredible opportunity that not many people in your position get.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like she bowed to the regulars again on the food. Too bad. Seattle area is all about interesting food for younger crowd. And after the crew busted their tails refurbing that restaurant. You can't pay off a mill 7 like that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here's another one I don't expect to last.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Do you ever expect any of them to last? lol

    ReplyDelete
  7. When that regular pulled Robert over to talk to him in the beginning, Robert should've picked him up and body slammed him to the ground as hard as he possibly could.

    ReplyDelete
  8. There's been a few. The bowling alley one I have hopes for. The golf club one stands a chance.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I get the sense that she really wants to change, but she's having a hard time being assertive. From the start, she recognized that she lets customers and employees walk all over her. Her employees in particular are bullies and are SO out of line texting her the way they did. They probably pushed her to put the old menu back. Becoming more assertive isn't something that happens overnight. I hope she's able to improve this skill before she loses everything.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Agree on the golf one, but the bowling alley one the dude seemed hopeless. This one actually had some positive signs, I was shocked when the food was actually good. Seems like she some how lucked out and ended up with good people in the kitchen (or maybe she was somehow responsible dunno). And her manager seemed like a decent person who she trusted. I don't think I've ever seen a graphic come up on the screen saying the sales went up 45% as the show was rolling credits, so maybe this one did work out.

    ReplyDelete
  11. She might have been better off losing the geezer regular customers at the bar. Sounds like they mostly come to socialize and take up all the bar seats all night.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My dog licks his butt, must mean the butt is good!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh come on I can't help saying this " Well then if that is true about your dogs butt, give it a try and let us know" lol :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. i agree. Something doesn't add up.

    ReplyDelete
  15. She needs to toss out those regulars since they have done nothing but hurt her business and go back to the menu Robert gave her. As for Eli, bu-bye. What a whiner!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Just read the FN follow-up on this, and it certainly tells a different, more positive story that we are seeing here. (Duh!)


    Matt, you need to get over to the FN site and pull back the curtain!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I never thought about it that way before. lol

    ReplyDelete
  18. That way either. lol

    ReplyDelete
  19. The "regulars" were always the first ones to come up to us at a new bar and "tell us" what songs we were going to play. We always played the opposite and blew them out of there right away. Picking one or two of them to make fun of from the stage was always fun. More people would come in and stay after that and we were always asked back.


    Regulars can be poison to a place.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Bleep....Bleep....Bleep....so goes the dialogue for this episode!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Mitt, agree, everything sounds fishy here. How does a person even get to walk around and have shelter when they owe $1.7 Million to various entities? How could she possibly sleep at night carrying that much debt?

    ReplyDelete
  22. I know, and it wasn't even fair that Robert was ragging on Jackie the way he did. Making her out to be bad for her. Sure, she didn't know much about the finances, but for Christ's sake, she is Kristen's only friend.

    ReplyDelete
  23. The fan blowing the money bit was so lame, but not as bad as last week's poker bit. I thought Lynn's makeover was one of his best.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You're comparing apples and oranges. What you do in your own home and family is not comparable to running a business open to the general public.

    ReplyDelete
  25. The nanny could be taught. You can't teach reliability and loyalty.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Reginald Myerscough IVFebruary 13, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    I’ve never been to the Dog & Pony Ale House episode but there’s clearly issues with the place. At the end of the walk-thru with owner right before they open up again, I didn’t care for the look that Robert gave the owner. It seemed very disrespectful to me and must have been missed on the final edit.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Something very interesting at FN. Dog 7 Pony is listed as February 4th, even though it was on the 11th. The Feb. 4th episode was Zoog's Caveman Cookin, which isn't even listed at FN. That restaurant must have crashed and burned very spectacularly.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Some poor PA had to pick up all those checks. They should have had a regular do it.

    ReplyDelete
  29. They probably sat all day and all night nursing one drink.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Yeah - the numbers didn't quite make sense to me, either.

    First off, how was the 'original business' - that was ran in secret by her ex-husband for its initial 10 years or so - keep it's door open if it was $1.XX million in debt by the time that Kristen took it over...??? That amount of debt didn't happen the day before Kristen divorced her husband and tried to make a legitimate shot at turning a profit with the place.

    Kristen said something to the effect that during the time that she was married she worked as a commercial realtor and that she had funded or invested the restaurant all along the way while her then-husband was running it. Was she trying to say that she put more than - or close to - $1 million dollars of 'her' real estate money into the restaurant...???

    If so, then what was going on in the marriage...???

    Yes - I certainly would support my husband in chasing his 'dream,' too. But there is a point where spouses - even spouses in a good marriage - have to look around and say, 'Where EXACTLY is all of this money going...??? It sure doesn't seem as if the restaurant is benefiting from it. What's going on...???'

    And why was that the case for nearly 10 years...??? Kristen made it seem as if almost all of the money that she was bringing into the marriage was being 'invested' into the restaurant and, subsequently, siphoned-off by the husband for the purposes of God knows what. Had the ex-husband been taking her for a ride from the very beginning of their marriage...???

    Again, how long do you just say, 'Oh, well...' and keep going...???

    Something wasn't quite right about the huge amount of debt and, frankly, the fact that the place still is open.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yeah, he was trying to make the point that the nanny/manager didn't have the necessary business knowledge required to run a restaurant and, therefore, Kristen really wasn't really any better off with the nanny in charge. He did start off on that path in an instantly aggressive, kinda prick-ish way, though.


    After a while, he did kinda come around to the fact that for the immediate future, Kristen really needed someone who she could trust in general and, specifically, someone whom she could trust to not steal from the business at every possible opportunity.


    I agree with Robert: if this business ever is going to succeed, it needs SOMEONE involved in the process who actually knows how to run a restaurant properly and who isn't learning on the job.


    But, if the business lasts for any length of time (and I'm not convinced that it will last long at all, maybe the nanny manager can at least provide a stable enough presence that the business side of the restaurant can become semi-normal. If that happens, then maybe they can look at hiring someone who really knows how to take the reigns and handle things in the way that a proper manager would handle them.


    Kristin's personal issue - which is driving this particular business decision - really is the trust factor. That's what matters right now. It might not be the best way to make this decision. But, at least I understand how important the trust issue is for her in the here and now.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Was curious if the owner ever was charged with a crime, like grand larceny, after habitually writing so many bad checks?

    ReplyDelete
  33. That's interesting. I wonder what the deal is?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Yeah, the poker thing was pathetic.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Are you saying that because you've been there, or...what? Care to elaborate? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hopefully not more problems for Zoog. We already know he had a heart attack...

    ReplyDelete
  37. Yeah, hopefully she isn't a potty mouth around the customers as well. That's extremely unprofessional.

    ReplyDelete
  38. That tap wall looked great! A million times better than sticking them on a board above everyone's heads. :p

    ReplyDelete
  39. Sad but true. :/ It seems insurmountable.

    ReplyDelete
  40. As a real estate agent and ex-wife of the pub owner, she had to be aware of the fiscal state of the pub. She is well acquainted with the ramifications of purchasing a property with IRS and property taxes in arrears and a mountain of debt. Who would knowingly buy into such a train wreck?? Her ex sounds like he ran the place into the ground. Was this part of their marital strife? There is so much more to this story...........it doesn't pass the smell test.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Why waste time with 12 step programs when RI can fix an addiction in 48 hours? You go!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  42. In a small area, 'the regulars' sometime can make a difference in your business, both from the money that they spend and from their word of mouth in the community.

    And business owners should try to make everyone as happy as possible and establish as many repeat patrons as possible. That's always a good goal for any business.

    However...

    These people wanted to have the final stamp of approval on every BUSINESS DECISION in the place. If they don't like it, it goes. It they like it, it stays.

    Sorry. Not gonna happen.

    If the 'regulars' don't like the new business model, then they can move on. Right now. Adios. There are plenty of dingy little neighborhood pubs in Seattle where they can sit at the end of the bar for 8 hours and nurse their one beer per night.

    Kristen desperatley needs to get NEW customers - and lots of them - into her business if she's ever going to have a chance at turning things around financially. And that's what this is about: finance. She's running a BUSINESS. She needs to be making business decisions that will guarantee that her restaurant achieves and maintains a profit. This isn't the time to be worried about pissing-off a half dozen cranky old farts who don't like anything and who have no financial ties to the place. She doesn't need them.

    One guy said that he actually feels as if he deserves to have input into the business decisions, because of all of the years that he's been patronizing the bar. Really...??? Years of sitting at a bar doesn't make you a financial partner in the business. It might make you 'a loyal customer,' but that's about it. Although, after seeing the way these people treat the owner, it's clear that their definition of 'loyalty' is way out of whack. Regardless, no degree of 'loyalty' links your ability to provide for your own family to the bar's $1.7 million in debt. That's where Kristen is. And that's why she's making changes. Big changes.

    If the new version of The Dog and Pony doesn't appeal to 'the regulars,' then they need to go and find another place where they can sit around all night and bitch. They'll be much happier and The Dog and Pony will be better off without them.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I've never seen a place where the regulars feel they are 'owed' input on how the place is run. That is nuts! To allow that is even worse. One comment that really struck me was how one diner said they'd visited before, but it seemed very 'cliquey' and they didn't care for that. That's a big problem.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I agree with your points. The thing I really disliked was that stunt with the baby doll. How demeaning was that?

    ReplyDelete
  45. I guess I missed that. Was it mentioned on the episode?

    ReplyDelete
  46. I wondered the same thing. Also, what business can afford to flush $3,000 to $6,000 PER MONTH on bad check fees? That is nuts.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Is the owner cooking or serving? If not, it's less of an issue that she ate something and licked her fingers. If she's touching your food or plate without washing up after, that's disgusting. If she was just taking a break and later washed up, no harm, no foul.

    ReplyDelete
  48. It was mentioned in the text at the end of the episode.

    ReplyDelete
  49. That's a shame. I can't imagine how I missed it. Thanks for telling me.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I think it's still something anyone in the food industry should be conscious not to do in front of customers.

    ReplyDelete
  51. These regulars are clearly toxic to the business.

    ReplyDelete
  52. He is not qualified to be assessing and/or treating alcohol addiction. So unethical! I lost a lot of respect for him for that.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Ditto.

    I really have to give it up to Kristen for putting the brakes on Robert's attempted 'business lesson' with the baby doll.

    Kristen might have problem's with asserting herself in all aspects of her business, but she showed some 'take the reigns' capability here. She stood up for her friend/manager and she didn't change her stance. She actually made Robert stop what he was doing.

    Almost instantly, she could see where he was going with the demonstration and she just said, 'No.'

    Her unspoken statement was, 'Don't ridicule HER in order to teach ME a lesson.' And she didn't back down.

    That really said something about her character and her loyalty.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Jackie actually state that she had a background and experience in accounting, but Kristen wouldn't let her see any of the financials. Jackie was clearly better qualified to manage the business than Kristen was.

    ReplyDelete
  55. And that's exactly why they DON'T want the place to change.

    They want to keep coming into the same place that they've been coming into for years. A place where the owner lets them sit around all night and chat it up with the staff and drink one beer. And if they DO have more than one beer, it's probably being given to them for free - because they're manipulating and/or charming some junior-league bartender to 'give 'em one on the house - because we're all like family around here.'

    As a customer, who wouldn't like that kind of a set-up...???

    Here's something to ponder about 'the regulars': Why do they have so much time available every night to drink at the local bar...??? Where are THEIR families during the 5 or 6 hours per night that they're holding court at the Dog and Pony Ale House...???

    Hmmmm...

    I wonder if it's ever occurred to any of 'the regulars' that maybe their families are GLAD that they spend the majority of their free time down at the neighborhood pub rather than sitting at home and bitching about everything.



    Makes ya think, doesn't it...???

    ReplyDelete
  56. Thank you. The ridiculous volume of bounced checks stood out for me, too.


    If I'd spent the past three years writing a stack of hot checks every month, my butt would be in jail.


    And even if there is some kind of different guidelines for 'returned checks' written off of business accounts, that's not exactly what was going on here. Kristen was knowingly, willingly and habitually submitting fraudulent payments for services and goods. That's a felony. And it wasn't something that happened a couple of times, like, during a month or two when things were extra, extra bad. That was just her way of paying the bills - or NOT paying the bills, as the case were.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Oh, I didn't catch that. All the more reason why the nanny was a good fit at the restaurant.

    ReplyDelete
  58. How is it her suppliers haven't cut her off and her employees haven't walked away for nonpayment?

    ReplyDelete
  59. I felt the same way. Why have someone close to you with that type of background and not unbend enough to allow them to help?

    ReplyDelete
  60. Agreed: not sure how much of a claim to fame that endorsement might be.

    Considering that when RI showed up, the dining area was filthy and stunk (even the owners said so) and the kitchen was an unsanitary disease pit (we saw that ourselves), I guess even the smallest improvement anywhere would render the place 'as clean as it's ever been.'

    Truth in advertising prevails.

    ReplyDelete
  61. The whole point of business is to GROW, or be PROFITABLE to sell. Like we got a bunch of liberal arts majors, flipping burgers.

    ReplyDelete
  62. That is bad and unexcusable. Shit rolls downhill.

    ReplyDelete
  63. You forgot to mention that it's a health code violation.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Pretty dumb going back to what failed and expecting a different result.

    ReplyDelete
  65. How stupid can you be. I would have rode it out and not caved on food with the locals. They have a cook that Robert actually thinks is good,with the tweaks. I would have rocked the new menu.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Sadly, they couldn't pull through.
    Zoog's Caveman Cookin Restaurant & Cave Lounge shared their post.

    March 23 at 12:45pm

    This is it friends. We thank you all for the support and many years of
    laughter and love. This will be a hard one to overcome. But on to bigger
    brighter better things.

    Zoog's Caveman Cookin Restaurant & Cave Lounge

    Zoogs last open door day will be this Thursday March 26th. Closing at 7pm for good. Its been such a experience and blessing for us to have made it this far the ...

    ReplyDelete