Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Restaurant Impossible - The JuJu Bag Cafe Update

Photo - Food Network
Tonight on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine and his crew are in New Orleans, Louisiana to makeover The JuJu Bag Cafe.  In following with this seasons odd-themed places, the location is actually half cafe and half barber salon.  The cafe looks like a cluttered living room and has no commercial kitchen equipment, and the Restaurant Impossible team has to renovate both a restaurant and a barber salon.

As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about The JuJu Bag Cafe 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:
  • "I LOVE the food and people.  I walked in by chance and what a find!   The people are heartfelt in their friendliness.  They really care about your experience with them, not by them because they make you feel welcome and relaxed as if you were meant to be there. The food is delicious with large portions. Well worth the drive from the Lower Garden District. Can't wait to go back!!!"
  • "We were very happy with this restaurant. The service was great, the owners are friendly, and they have a salon attached to it. It's a small place but still we loved it."


Negative Reviews:
  • "Fish Fry Fridays...not the best. I went in for the special and the smell of hair chemicals was overwhelming. Smells like a perm kit factory inside. After noticing the salon next door, I felt a little better. I ordered the fish and I was fried just a little too hard for my liking. The sides offered were mac n' cheese and peas. Both were nothing to write home about. I'll pass."
  • "Our hostess took us out back and told us the place will be on Restaurant Impossible in May. She said, "We have a full bar." Wine? Only moscato. Beer? Heineken. We ordered Heineken. She brought it out. Unopened. "We don't have bottle openers." I ordered a po' boy. "They're not good here. Only six shrimp." OK. How about the mixed basket? "That takes hours." OK. What should we order? "Salads." Bottom line: food was edible, price was right, and the owner, a former Southern U prof, she said, entertained us with stories on the way out. Surreal. That is, New Orleans."
  • "Place is very cute!!! Wasn't able to order food 2 different times, once due to problems with appliances!!!! Staff was unorganized and unbothered!!! I stood there 15 minutes one time picking different items to eat each time I tried to alert the waitress to let her know I found something else "because everything else I ordered wasn't available", she said that item wasn't available either...I finally got fed up with the cat and mouse with her and said what exactly do you have!!!!!!!? Ended up getting okra and shrimp with red sauce was not good! I use to go here a year ago the food was good and the service was quick, I don't know what happened!!

Other News and Links:
  • The Restaurant Impossible makeover happened in March 2015.
  • Here is the Ju-Ju Bag Facebook Page, which isn't too active.
  • Here is an old JuJu Bag website, which seems to have expired and now has spammy links on the site.
  • Here is another JuJu Bag website, which doesn't work without the "www." in front.  Here is the version that works.
  • Here is a 5 minute documentary about The JuJu Bag Cafe made in 2012, which is pretty well done.  Some info from that:
    • A Ju Ju Bag is a bag given to young men at the age of 13 in West Africa where they keep their precious items.
    • Before Hurricane Katrina, the restaurant was half living quarters and half barber shop.  After Katrina, they were going to make half of it a book store, but people kept asking if they would serve food or coffee, so they decided to do food.
  • Random - There are Ju Ju Be Diaper Bags that kept showing up in search results, but there is no relation.

Conclusion:

The reviews of the restaurant are mixed since the makeover with some people liking the food, people and atmosphere.  There were a few complaints about the availability of items on the menu and the laid back service.  There wasn't too much publicity during the makeover so there wasn't too much information out there, but it seems like locals will be critical to making this restaurant succeed.


A new season of Restaurant Impossible hasn't been given the green-light yet, and Robert Irvine has said on social media that this season's ratings will determine if they continue to produce episodes.  Last week's episode had 1.1 million viewers, so I expect those ratings are good enough to warrant more episodes, but only time will tell.  Maybe they just will slow down production as five different seasons span the years 2014 and 2015. (UPDATE - It has been renewed for a 12th season.)


*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

*Unrelated to RI, but The Profit Updates is now live if you are a fan of CNBC's The Profit.

31 comments:

  1. So what's next? A restaurant/funeral parlour makeover? I thought the Dr. Phil moments on RI were absurd and it couldn't get any more ridiculous. Oh how I was wrong.......

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  2. Sounds completely and utterly disgusting. Ordering food at the same place people are getting their hair cut and permed? Who would think of such a thing? Nasty!

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  3. If the kitchen manager was the sole owner as well, maybe this place could be rescued. As it is, it will continue to lose money until the owners tap out.

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  4. I like the women who own JuJu Bag. They very clearly went into this to help the community. This is the kind of episode I like to see, but overall, I think it's time RI ends.

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  5. Oh, and I LOVE The Profit!! Thanks for the link!

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  6. The article on FN says this episode is the last of the current season. So now a "season" consists of only 6 episodes ? Tonight we got 40 minutes of psychotherapy and about 10 minutes of "Restaurant". This show needs to decide what it wants to be and stick with that.
    The pretense that the make-over MUST be finished in 2 days is ludicrous. Why MUST it only take 2 days ? Wouldn't 5 days work even better ? Both for the restaurant and the build-out. Tho the gals seemed to be really nice (especially the barber) I would never go into a restaurant where hair is being cut 10 feet away. NEVER ! I wish them luck.But unless BIG Mama has a complete personality transplant - nothing will change.
    I really like Irvine. Give him a different show please. This one is out of gas.

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  7. Do you suppose they hear, "Waitress, there's a hair in my _________" often? lol

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  8. I'm betting on a restaurant/recreational pot store makeover in Colorado. What worse combination is there for a restaurant to fail in.

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  9. Restaurant / pot store could do well. Munchies!!!!

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  10. A combination Restaurant-Barber is about as appealing as a combination Chef-Proctologist.

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  11. I have watched that just recently for the first time. The guy is a weasel....

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  12. I would honestly like to open one of those. I like cooking and weed.

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  13. After another episode with a 20+ minute intro, so to speak, I kinda thought 'lost cause? Let's fix it anyway!' :p In the end, I dunno. When things are running smoothly in those parts, there are a LOT of dining options. Their food better be really, really good, because I doubt it's any different than anywhere else. Regardless, I wish them well.

    The barber shop looked classy, especially with that great photo/mural. :) I like it when they do that. (the pics at The Trails Eatery also come to mind) The restaurant looked nice in two-tone and the lack of clutter was good. That one customer was right in that it doesn't look like a living room anymore. Heh. Both places looked dark, but probably aren't as dark in person as they are on TV. I think that could be said about a lot of places they do.



    P.S. I don't think I've seen Robert as uncomfortable and/or perturbed with someone as he was with Tommye in a while. He seemed a little off even the next day when they were doing their one-on-one business plan and whatnot. Did anyone else feel that way?

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  14. 5 days would be far less Impossible, that's why. ;)

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  15. I know. I can't even watch this one. Makes me want to throw up just thinking about it.

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  16. Marcus?! I disagree.

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  17. I'm sick of looking at Robert Irvine.

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  18. Restaurant / Funeral Parlor could work......what follows a good funeral??? Lunch of course!!!!

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  19. I'll have the Brownie Special please........

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  20. Robert's sign-off sounded remarkably like a series end.

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  21. Deep fried and make mine a double!

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  22. These guys would be customers:

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-ap-hearse-with-coffin-doughnut-shop-20150513-story.html

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  23. They should have changed the name of the place to "Barf Bag."

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  24. I can't imagine that the staff is going to change their ingrained habits in regard to cleanliness. This place was disgustingly filthy, and it did not seem to bother anyone there, owners and staff alike. I'd bet that once the cameras are gone, they will revert to the way they used to be, and the place will be a fetid cockroach infested dump in no time again.

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  25. After so many years you would think the producer would tell the idiots who run filthy establishments that they are disqualified for consideration on these shows. If you can't even sweep, mop, dust, and disinfect your kitchen, why should anyone save your business?

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  26. I disagree completely. By their own statements, after Katrina, people were asking them for wifi and sandwiches, so they thought "We can cash in on this." Might as well be a stew and bait shop.

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  27. Hopefully Marc Summers and the rest of the production crew will realize that they had some gems in this short season -- where they focused on people who genuinely are trying to run a restaurant -- and will avoid making completely massive bullcrap episodes like this one.

    Like others have said, this show has shown some great examples of what a restaurant should NOT look like or what a kitchen should NOT look like, so stop wasting film and production time on them... if these folks won't clean or fix anything, to hell with 'em.

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  28. David RofulowitzMay 26, 2015 at 6:50 PM

    I just hope they don't overdo the "quirkiness" factor...I think once every couple of episodes is fine, but if it becomes the "combo of the week" type of thing again I will probably start tuning out the show.


    I'm really surprised Robert went ahead with the remodel of the Cafe, considering the owner seemed to have a know it all attitude despite not even intending to open a cafe.

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  29. The worst episode ever. Really? A hair salon and a restaurant and cultural museum. The woman has no clue about running a restaurant, managing people, or basic sanitation. No way this place is licensed. The producer that selected this place should be fired. A candy shop in Texas. A bowling alley/bar. Pinball arcade? Huh? Get real Marc Summers.


    It would be a better show if Robert arrived and could determine whether to invest $10k or walk away from some of these jerks and bank the money for additional spends on deserving owners.

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