Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Restaurant Impossible - WhaBah Steakhouse Update

Photo - Facebook
Tonight on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine and his crew are in Bowling Green, Kentucky to makeover the WhaBah Steakhouse.  The restaurant is over 4,000 square feet and it is one of the largest restaurants that Restaurant Impossible has done.  The eight-year-old restaurant is also a music venue, and despite it having early success, the owner has now hit a wall and faces bankruptcy.  Robert and team will have to inspire the owner and handle the challenges of working with such a large space.

As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about WhaBah Steakhouse 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:
  • "My husband, kids and I visited whabah for lunch and it was wonderful! Food and service was great. I recommend it to everyone. Great selection of food for everyone."


Negative Reviews:
  • "The worst experience I've ever had with any business! 2 hours to get a steak! Then the owner said he is to busy to come out! On top of that the food was awful! Thanks a lot Robert Irvine you turned what was a great place into a dump!!!!"
  • "Was there 2 1/2 hours tonight 1 hour and 45 min. Was waiting to even get our food. We have been there several times in the the past. The restaurant was nice but food not so much. Food cold not cooked to temp let's just say the 6 of us won't be going back or recommending to our friends again. Very dissapointed"
  • "Was a horrible experience. Came in for lunch and no one seated us or greeted us...This place is understaffed, and the management seems to not have adjusted anything compared to their new look. A new look doesn't help if you have the same crappy service. I doubt they'll last much longer."
  • "Terrible service; waitress did not know the menu at all! Freezing cold while the beautiful fireplace sat with wood but no fire! New menu is very limited."
  • "Thot this might b good since Wah Bah just had a makeover but the service is terrible. We arrived at a quarter to 6 and its 7:15 now n no entree. Will not b back."
  • "I can't imagine it being any worse prior to the Restaurant Impossible make over. Thumbs down on taste, presentation, atmosphere, service and price."
  • "As other reviews have said, the grill area is in the midst of the dining room and puts off quite a bit of smoke despite the enormous hood ventilation system."
*Reviews from Yelp, Facebook

Other News and Links:
  • The Restaurant Impossible makeover happened in January 2015
  • Here is the Whabah Steakhouse website, and their Facebook page, which has a picture of the menu.
  • It appears the restaurant stopped serving breakfast after the Restaurant Impossible visit. (Link)
  • The name Whabah comes from the noise a motorcycle makes when you rev it up. (Link)
  • If you sort the Facebook Reviews by Most Recent, you will see WhaBah has responded to some of the negative ones and they try to justify their long wait times to get food.
  • Donnie's aka Perky's daughter applied for Restaurant Impossible.  Perky said about the restaurant - "In the beginning when I got into, this it was about food. It was about the service of people and about watching them eat and enjoy the food.  I let all these things pull me away from it – music, different parties and partying myself and being a part of it. I’ve changed over the years. I look at more of the family thing. I want to get back to my roots, and it’s about food.” (Link)
  • Donnie currently has his house listed for sale for $450,000 and posted the link on the Whabah Facebook page.   Someone made fun of the pictures in the listing, which Whabah took offense to (Link).
  • The restaurant is also for sale, but there is no online listing for the restaurant.  A local article says it is for sale, and a message board said there was an advertisement in the local paper listing it for sale.

Conclusion:

The reviews of WhaBah Steakhouse are pretty much all negative since the Restaurant Impossible makeover with the biggest complaints being about service and the wait times to get food.  The negative reviews, the owner's house listed for sale, and the restaurant supposedly listed for sale makes it seem like WhaBah's will not be a Restaurant Impossible success story.


UPDATE - WhaBah Steakhouse closed around June 2015.  More information on the closure.


*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

51 comments:

  1. Looks like they are scraping the bottom of the barrel to find restaurants of the show. Another one that's about to die even after the remodel?

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  2. For sure this show must be on its last legs... which is kind of a shame because the idea of turning around a locally-owned business is fantastic.

    But on a separate topic, if we are talking dirty kitchens, etc on shows like RI, how about the FN stars who lack hygiene when on the air? Example: Rachel Ray has advocated washing lettuce by filling up the kitchen sink with water and dunking the lettuce in there... (kitchen sinks are often filled with more bacteria than a toilet); I've never seen Giada or Ree use soap when they wash their hands - and maybe most annoying of all is how often Nancy Fuller dips a spoon into a pot, shoves it into her mouth, then goes right back to stirring the pot with the same spoon? I get that people at home may cut health-code corners, but sheesh, if you're on TV for chrissakes - why not at least be a model of good food hygiene practices? Thanks for letting me rant. :-)

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  3. It's kind of weird how they ran so many ads for this season. First time I've ever seen an ad for RI.

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  4. I agree about the hygiene on all the food shows. On some of the shows they are shaking hands with guests or touching their hair, Yuck. Also what about all the hair? Lots of restaurants require hairnets. They women should at least pull their hair back and clip it instead of it hanging down above the food.

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  5. Nice rant, I haven't noticed those things. What drives me insane is when chefs with long hair cook without pulling their hair back!! "Chefs" on Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen are frequent offenders. It makes me wonder if that's how they cook in their own restaurants. I worked at a chain restaurant as a hostess, and you had to have your hair back always when you entered the kitchen, or put on a hair net!

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  6. saw the note at the end of the show that the "locals are resistant to change" first of all, wahbahs has been getting steadily worse over the last few years and is not anyone's choice. second, except for a good cleaning, the place is the same. Same surly service, same mediocre food. and finally, BG is full of restaurants where the food is NOT overpriced crap. we actual had the dubious distinction of the most restaurants per capita in the state!

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  7. Most per capita? Interesting. My guess is because WKU dominates Bowling Green far more than UL and UK dominate their cities.

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  8. Why do you guys even bother finishing these episodes? So obvious the owner was just going through the motions so he could get the free renovation and sell the place. Have no sympathy for someone that is selfish enough to not even keep their restaurant clean and to risk getting people sick.

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  9. Actually had some sympathy for the owner. he's gotten depressed and let the place go to pot -- no cleaning or any care for health regulations.

    But the make over. Um, getting rid of the music stage, which might draw in those who want a couple of beers with their music in order to seat a few more people to eat, from the reviews, mediocre food?

    And once again, capping the budget at $10,000 is no longer acceptable. Too little.

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  10. I get grossed out when I see chefs dripping with face sweat as they are leaning over the food.

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  11. Cupcake Wars was always the worst offender for this. And I also kept waiting for someone's exaggerated false eyelash to wind up in the batter.

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  12. Think of it as seasoning.

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  13. Notice they stopped talking about $10,000 in this episode.

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  14. I agree. You don't fix this long-term depression in two days. It was so obvious that they were fixing it up to sell it. I hate wasting my time even watching it. RI ought to make them sign some covenants about continuing to run it and even continuing to use the new menus - it's another pet peeve - they never keep the new recipes.

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  15. Of course Food Network's update page for this restaurant tries to paint things in a positive improvement light.

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  16. Totally agree! Also, I've seen lots of people on Chopped who have these gross big beards... That hair in a dish? Don't even get me started on the level of gross!

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  17. Oh so true! Drip, drip = puke puke in my book. I'd rather see a microwave dinner nuked with that plastic wrap over the dish than the "organic seasoning" that seems in favor with the unwashed masses of cooks.

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  18. Mmmm....microwave dinner nuked with that plastic wrap.

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  19. Yeah, cause there is NO WAY IN HELL you could do 4,000 SF for 10K. I'm surprised they didn't allow more than the paltry 36 hours.

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  20. That was one of MANY things wrong with Cupcake Wars.

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  21. How can you make an entire series about cupcakes!!!! It was so boring.

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  22. Well, at least they were pretty frank about it after the credits. I haven't checked the official page much since I started coming here.

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  23. I agree with a lot of the points being brought up, but I notice no one is talking about the actual renovation. ;) I thought it was subtle, but good, especially considering they had the same restrictions for such a huge space. But I also thought it looked decent before, at least befitting a steakhouse.

    The removal of the stage was interesting. The owner said he was glad to see it gone, so I guess it wasn't being used. Replacing it with seats that probably won't be filled past re-opening night is sort of a shame, though.

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  24. Yeah, Robert always encourages them to use more salt. ;)

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  25. Certainly looks that way given the information above. Their reputation is going to get worse and worse if they don't learn to be more efficient and possibly get a bunch of new servers. But that takes a lot of time, money and effort, so...yeah. :/

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  26. The format is contrived. There's a melodramatic disaster just before every commercial break. And Justin Willman isn't a very good host.

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  27. First off WHABAH is NOT a great name as owner Perky suggests. It's terrible and meaningless to 99% of the people who go there.What kind of nick-name is 'Perky'
    for a man ? Maybe a pet chicken or a kitten,but not a full-grown man.
    Again the design aspect of the re-do was awful, Hanging a bunch of rough wood pallets from the ceiling is a bad idea.That thing will gather dust and look filthy in about 3 weeks. Ditto the long lines of empty Perrier bottles. One of the restaurants big problems was cleanliness-so they add more dust catchers ? I thought the stretched canvas panels on the walls were tacky. They will collect all the airborne grease from the open kitchen. This show needs to hire a real restaurant designer and not some artsy/craftsy ,humble hands at home decorator. At least Tom seems to know what he's doing.

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  28. So more than 48 hours and $10k? Though it sounds like the dollar limit wasn't in play for this episode.

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  29. Sadly, this one doesn't seem to be headed for success. The taglines at the end of the episode were not encouraging at all, which is a shame, because, as others have said, I really like the idea of helping local business owners to get back on track and make a success out of their businesses.

    But in this case, I think the owner ('Perky') is just too far gone at a psychological level to be able to pull off a turnaround - even if business were to pick up.

    I know that the restaurant is in 'small town Kentucky' and he definitely has a 'small town Kentucky' demeanor, but he just seems so beaten down, so exhausted and so ready for this part of his life to be over. It just seems to me as if he isn't going to be capable of mustering the type of energy that it takes to become a strong business leader who's going to be able to rally the troops and get things back to where they belong.

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  30. Yep. I agree. As far as the renovation goes - I think this one was kinda neither here nor there. Sure, it looked 'better' during the reveal. But by the time all was said and done, it's still pretty much the same place.

    I do think that the overwhelming size and scale of the place was legitimately prohibitive to making any significant changes, though. Cheryl was saddled with an nearly insurmountable disadvantage from the get go.



    Even with some extra time and extra money - the renovation clearly was the 'impossible' part of 'Restaurant Impossible.'

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  31. Yeah, the taglines that ran with the credits sure didn't seem encouraging. I wouldn't be surprised if this one folds before the end of the year.

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  32. This place has surpassed "Goombas" as the worst name in show history.

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  33. I wish them well, but "Perky" still didn't seem to have any genuine energy at the conclusion. It's hard to believe they didn't get the makeover just to sell.

    Also, that is one of the worst names I have ever heard for a restaurant. Robert should have insisted it changed, especially with the legacy.

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  34. Maybe they need more drama. Robert can smash things and throw things around (more than he has in the past). How about a Chef attacking Robert in the kitchen? Trying to stab him? Or maybe have Robert vomiting violently when he tastes the food? MO DRAMA!!!

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  35. As bad as "Bumbinos"......which closed.

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  36. And it took him until the last season to correctly pronounce macaron.


    But I do love Florian.

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  37. Agree with every. thing. you. said!

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  38. Even worse than "Afro Hairs" in St Louis

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  39. Florian is awesome!

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  40. What about cake boss? those dudes smoothing the fondant out all over the cakes with their hairy un gloved hands? lol

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  41. Unless they have hairy palms, and if their hands are clean, they are using the best tools available in any kitchen.

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  42. Worst for me was Gratifi, which I kept reading as Graffiti. Even if they used the dictionary spelling, it still wouldn't be a good name.

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  43. David RofulowitzApril 2, 2015 at 3:10 AM

    It's probably because RI put a post on his Facebook page saying that the viewership for this season will determine whether or not there is a 12th season of the show. Makes me wonder if ratings are in decline since they seem to be focusing more on the family drama aspect of the show and a little less on the business side of running a restaurant.

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  44. What a dumb name for a bar! Ir says absolutely nothing. I just couldn't get past that name; I hoped Robert would change it.

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  45. Whabah... the sound of a motorcycle? The owner thinks that suggests "upscale steakhouse"?

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  46. Oh God, on the Canadian Restaurant Takeover show, there was this chef, Derek Minkensky, who dripped swear into all the food and had a large, uncovered beard hovering over the food. Barf. Made me stop watching. It's a plague on FN shows.

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  47. "Thanks a lot Robert Irvine you turned what was a great
    place into a dump!!!!""

    It's been said before, but I still laugh when I see posts about how much better the restaurant was before RI came in. I guess some people like bad food, dirty kitchens and dining rooms? But the "Why'd they change it???" attuitude is the funniest. Failing, about to close the doors..."But I liked it better before"...idiots...

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  48. Incredibly bad choice. The first of a series of bad choices.

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  49. Went by there today. It is closed. I took a picture of it. There is a bedsheet (seriously) hanging off the roof that says CLOSED FOR REMODEL scrawled in spray paint. (I guess he didn't like Chef Robert's remodel?) I'd share the picture, but I don't see how to do it here.
    Also, I can confirm it is listed for sale in the paper. $215,000.

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