Sunday, July 28, 2013

Restaurant Impossible - Benner Street Update

Photo - Food Network
Tonight on Restaurant Impossible, Robert Irvine and crew are going to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to makeover Benner Street Restaurant.  Owners Dorothy and Thom should be close to retirement, but the restaurant has put them too far into debt.  The restaurant has outdated decor, a lack of alcohol at the bar, and Dorothy is constantly fighting with her husband, who is also the chef.  For added drama, the fire department had to come during the makeover, and Robert Irvine said there were 'fire and hospital visits.'  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Benner Street Restaurant 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:

  • "Went for dinner on a recent Saturday night. We were greeted warmly and were seated promptly. Our server was knowledgeable and friendly....A wonderful meal. We will definitely return."
  • "I had the filet mignon, and my husband had the Benner Street burger. Food came out quickly and it didn't disappoint. Two thumbs up."
  • "I love the new Benner Street.  I had the crab patty and it was the best I have ever had.  The new menu is exciting and different.  The service was impeccable.   I highly recommend it!!"
  • "Went here last night fresh off of the Restaurant Impossible taping. Best meal I have had in years....Highly recommended and will be going back as soon as possible....I would give the new menu and food a 10/10 if it were an option!"

Negative Reviews:

  • "Good food but way too expensive..This restaurant is in a run-down neighborhood, you have to walk through the bar to get to the restaurant area, the tables/chairs are old....but still the bill was over $80 (no drinks other than water, no dessert, and the only "extra" was 1 bowl of soup) -- this isn't New York or even the Promenade shops! We all agreed won't go back or recommend to friends."
  • "We were a party of four. We took guest, and I was beyond disappointed!
    All dishes had to be pre cooked. Within ten minutes of ordering all the meals were delivered to our table. To make matters worse, every thing was at best warm."
  • "Poor dining experience. Revised menu is pitiful-adequate at best for a pub but nonsense for a fine dining establishment.  WE HAVING BEEN COMING TO BENNER STREET FOR 15 YEARS. I AM SAD TO SAY THAT WE WILL NOT RETURN."
  • "The menu was paired down significantly and not in a good way. It is unfortunate that what was once a very good restaurant has lowered itself to this level.....Bring back the quality! Robert Irvine should be ashamed. Used to eat here often until quality dropped off I feel sorry for the owners."
  • "All I can say is we were all totally disappointed in the "new" menu as were patrons seated around us! Very limited upscale menu that will not fly in their location.... Food was good but not what we wanted. Bring back some of your best sellers and at least add a pasta dish to the menu. Will not go back unless the menu changes."
  • "A group of us came here after this place got renovated and revamped (group of 8 - perhaps too big for this place to handle?). I will NEVER go back. Gosh, where can I start...?.....The service was horrendous....The FOOD was atrocious..... For what they charge, I expected to at least enjoy it somewhat, especially after waiting for so long.....If anyone knows about decent dining they would suffer as much as I did here. Nicer restaurants in philly charge about the same but at least you will get a good meal out of it."
Reviews from Tripadvisor, Yelp


It seems like the negative reviews outweigh the positive reviews after the makeover, and the main complaints seem to be the smaller menu and higher prices.  The menu is more upscale than normal Restaurant Impossible restaurants, and by looking at the menu, I don't think prices are that bad for that type of food.  However, it may be the location that does not warrant the higher prices and upscale food.  The reviews pre-makeover seem to be a bit better than post-makeover.

It should also be interesting to see the fire drama on the episode tonight, and if it seems real or manufactured.  It will probably be something minor as the restaurant opened on time after the makeover.

UPDATE - Benner Street has been sold and will close in the summer of 2014.

*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 


  1. Robert always seems to go for more upscale as a means to increase profits. I get that, but sometimes I wish he took the area and what the place originally was into more consideration, ultimately I think he'd help more restaurants if he did as prices seem to be the number one complaint for the restaurants he touches.

  2. My impression after the first five minutes would be to just add this one to the closed list right now. Seems like there's way too much drama going on for this one to succeed.

  3. $15 seems a little pricey for a burger when the roast duck is like $23. However, overall the pricing doesn't seem too bad. I agree, though, that it depends on the neighborhood. And if those reviews are correct, ten minutes for a more upscale meal is awful quick - that doesn't bode well for how fresh the food is. My rule of thumb is unless it's a fast food place, I expect to wait about twenty minutes for a nicer meal, not ten.

  4. The drama between them seems too much for a two-day fix.

  5. IMO, the new design is horrible. I agree that it needed to be updated but it just looks like junk thrown together. Not a fan at all.

  6. What's always been good about RI is that Marc Summers doesn't feel the need to just crank out a formula product. This episode was completely different than other episodes -- no crap food, no bad staff, no gimmick sledgehammer -- but it was still very compelling. It felt authentic and that's why RI is pretty much the only thing I watch on Television Food Network anymore, because the rest feels like over processed chain restaurant garbage.

    Can this restaurant survive? It depends on a relationship with customers who both come back and bring new friends. Should it survive? It's good people doing good work; yeah, I'd like to see them be successful in their second act.

  7. This seems like another case of the old customers not liking the changes, when what they liked was part of why the place was failing.

  8. I don't agree. Cheaper Prices has nothing to do with the success of a Restaurant.
    The Bottom line ingredients prices increase and you have to update your prices. So it not always the Area. It has to due with what on the menu. So if they want cheaper Prices on food then you have to make certain type of dishes. It what the owners take with them after Robert Leaves. Robert not a miracle workers and I can almost Guarantee the restaurants that have closed was due
    to not listening to his advice and going back to old bad Habits. 21 Restaurants closed is not bad compared to the 70 or more they have helped.
    That Life you can't help everyone and he tries his best. I feel it worthwhile

    even if you can only help some. Never Give up.

  9. Exactly This does not seem good. I really did like the couple and wish them success but I don't think they will. It a shame they seemed really nice despite
    the issues.

  10. This one of the few So called Reality show that I think is real. I think some of the drama is misleading and is hyped up a bit but the entire show is not fake like the
    other garbage shows where all the scenarios are scripted and are made up.
    as far as I am concerned you can't fake redo a restaurant. Mystery Diners,
    Restaurant Stake house so Scripted and some of the scenarios are fake
    beyond belief. It all set up before hand.

  11. I agree that prices must go up to accomodate food/labor costs, but if you take a joint where you could get an entree for say $9 average and turn it into one where the average entree is $18 that takes a place from casual to mid/upscale. That's a big jump and not all areas can support that, especially if an area is more working class. That was more of what I was driving at.

  12. The one menu gain I noticed is that when pricing the food has been completed to cover all expenses ie; Food, Services, Mortgage,and Utilities! If someone does not know how to do this they could put the Restaurant in Jeopardy of loosing a great deal of money! And, if they over price items on the menu it turns customers away! So lets say the Hamburger cost $1.95 per portion, Buns $.42 + condiments $.50!
    Total cost to restaurant is approximately $ 2.87... The Hamburger on menu should be between $8.50 & $9.00. That would be a fair price and in most restaurants include Medium Portion of French Fries !

  13. yea just to much of this seems like the same person trying to start trouble the quality of the food was never in question just the options and the fact they argued all the time

  14. yes exactly they all us the same formula 3x cost cost/overheadstaff

  15. just as i figured you go through pick out more complaints than the good reviews go here to check them out:

  16. according to their website and an article linked on their website, the restaurant has been sold.

  17. Yup, already did a post about it -

  18. When Irvine introduces some of his new recipes, I'm like "I would never eat that". Especially the huge-chunks-of-pig-fat-BLT. It looked so unappetizing and that's the way it is with most of the recipes I see on RI. They narrow the selection down to 5 entrees, half of which I wouldn't even touch. It's like he's setting them up to fail with limited selections. However, it is up to the owners to keep that limited selection too.

  19. What is up with the parrot shower cutains??? Everytime Cheryl does the designing I cring. What rediculous mogpog is she gonna come up with next?? She's a horrible designer!!!