Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Restaurant Impossible - Mike La Susa's Italian Restaurant Update

Photo - Food Network
Tonight on Restaurant Impossible, Robert Irvine and crew are going to Oak Creek, Wisconsin to makeover Mike La Susa's Italian Restaurant.  There is a volatile relationship between the owners and their son, and they seem to argue over everything 'from the food they serve to the artwork on the wall.'  One of the owners walks out during the makeover and vows never to return.  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Mike La Susa's Italian 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:
  • "I was previously there and liked the price, food was okay the service was okay. But it has been recently renovated and revamped by restaurant impossible. Check it out, food is way better."
  • "Although I liked the pre-Restaurant Impossible decor better, the food is still yummy. We had eggplant roll-ups, calamari, and gnocchi pesto appetizers tonight. All were great. The new aioli served with the calamari is an interesting change, but still very good. I hope they stick around, because they're the best Italian in Oak Creek!"
  • "I have visited La Susa's restaurant before and after their make-over. Before the make-over, the atmosphere was fine and the food better.... The make-over is exceptional! Now, if the full menu came back, it would be great once again. The current menu only has about ten things on it! I was very disappointed and hope they are able to build a better menu soon or this restaurant will not survive. "

Negative Reviews:
  • "This was hands down my favorite local place to eat,  but since the latest renovation they did with restaurant impossible I don't think i will be back.  They took away about 50 percent of the menu and everything left now tastes subpar.  I will honestly miss the old mike la susa's"
  • "We used to be regulars and dined every Friday and sometimes mid week as well....This restaurant is a hidden gem, the food superb and different. But the menu was shrunk beyond belief. The contract with restaurant impossible people won't let them change the menu. I just hope he stays in business long enough to get out of the contract and get back to the old menu.... Prior to the show I would rate this restaurant at 5 stars. Now I am waiting to see what happens before I go back."
  • "If it's not broken don't fix it. Robert Irvine ruined this restaurant !! The old menu was loaded with tasty choices, I was hard pressed to find anything appetizing with the new menu."
  • "Change is good, but in this case it is too much. Nothing on the new menu was appealing to us. Hopefully Restaurant Impossible has not ruined one of our favorite restaurants and they read reviews and feedback...This is the first time in my life that I have sat down at a restaurant read the menu and left!"
  • "My last review of Mike Lasusa's was glowing. We had found a new Italian hideaway we absolutely loved. And then....Restaurant Impossible redid Mike Lasusa's this week......We will never go back. It is SAD to see this homey family feeling restaurant TRY to go upscale and cater to "foodies." Sorry Mike, but we won't be back."
Reviews from Yelp, Tripadvisor, Urbanspoon


Before the makeover, pretty much all of the reviews for the restaurant were 4 or 5-star reviews commending the food and calling the place a "hidden gem."  The comments on local articles seemed to think the location or advertising was the problem and not the food or decor of the restaurant. 

It seems that the changes Robert put in place to the menu have been disappointing to most of the customers of Mike La Susa's.  The menu is too small for their liking and the prices have increased a bit.  Reviews have been worse since the makeover due to this.  Even the restaurant's Facebook page is loaded with reviews saying the same thing, and the restaurant has stated that they will start to add items back to the menu soon.

The location of the restaurant is apparently off the beaten path, but in a developing part of town near Lake Michigan.  So the location could be better once things start getting built around there.  It will be interesting to see if the location is brought up at all tonight in the episode or if the show will just focus on the family drama.

UPDATE - Mike La Susa's closed in November 2015.  They posted the following message on their Facebook Page,
"Dear Loyal Patrons,
At the end of the evening Saturday, November 7th, 2015, Mike La Susa’s will be closed for business. We want to personally thank everyone for their support over the years. Without this loyal support, Mike La Susa’s would not have been able to survive five memorable years serving the Oak Creek community.
Thanks you,
Michael La Susa"
*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. Menu doesn't look too bad.. people expecting Fazoli's prices?

  2. That menu was posted on their website just this week, so this may have some of the additions included.

  3. "The contract with the restaurant impossible people won't let them change the menu."

    I take it either the customer is wrong or the restaurant is being dishonest, because restaurants ditch the RI menu all the time.

  4. I was surprised that Robert didn't (at least on the show) look at the finances and food costs to see where the money was going.

  5. Maybe they ditch it after a certain time period? It seems like the contract was/is only for a specific amount of time, not forever.

  6. Maybe he did but they just didn't show it since there was so much "drama" and that seems to be more interesting to air than him talking about their finances.

  7. I wasn't under the impression they had much of a contract to speak of - owners routinely flip the property, revert to the old menu and switch out the decor routinely, it seems, by the time the show airs if not right after. The only thing I've noticed they are not able to do is talk about the makeover before the episode airs.

  8. Wow. Not sure I've ever seen such an aggravating family. I wouldn't be surprised if Mike decided to cut his losses and walk away! The level of passive-aggressiveness from the parents was insane.

  9. Just saw Mike and his parents. Mike, cut the apron strings and go be an executive chef someplace else - like in another state! Meet new people, start a restaurant with new friends, collaborate with other chefs...your parents are abusive and they beat you down. Don't be afraid to start over. It was THEIR choice to invest in it; you can make your own way. You need to get away and have a life. You don't owe them anything - it was their choice to get it for you. It's not worth it. Maybe even Chicago, or NYC, or someplace - just get out from under them. My daughter and I were crying during the show - you CAN do it!! Just get away and you will be free to follow your passion!! You're still young - don't waste your youth trying to please them because you never will -- we were surprised you are so nice, but they are not. You have skills, but it's not worth it there. Go someplace you always wanted to visit or live, and start over. Don't let them ruin your life anymore than they have and guilt-trip you. All they do is threaten to take it away. Get the heck out of there and have some fun. You sure look better when you smile, but you won't be smiling much around them. We wish you all the luck and we hope to hear a positive update that you have made changes and are happy and free on your own! Go for it! :)

  10. I love how positive Mikes mother is with an attitude like that how can anything be positive I wou
    ld definitely take up drinking or drug use if I was Mike poor guy hey Ma go fu** yourself !!!!

  11. He definitely needs to get out from under his parents, especially his mother. IT's the only way he'll ever not only have success as a professional, but have a life.

  12. Confused about this part in one of the negative reviews, "The
    contract with restaurant impossible people won't let them change the
    menu. I just hope he stays in business long enough to get out of the
    contract and get back to the old menu..."
    o_0 Say wha?? I've been a fan of the show and have read many of the updates and comments, but this is the first time I've read anything like that. Many of the other places have/had changed their menu &/or even gone back mostly to their pre RI makeover.

    I wonder, after watching this episode, if Mary and/or Patrick are telling their customers that any problems are because of RI and that they just can't do anything because of RI. If I am wrong then I will admit it, but after seeing just what his parents were doing and how they put him down and even put Robert down, I would not put it past the parents to pass the blame to Robert and RI for any and all changes that they and their other customers do not like.

  13. Gee On The CentralOregon CoastDecember 5, 2013 at 2:43 AM

    Did the father return at any time for the grand reopening of Mike La Susa's Restaurant?

  14. Well, as negative and superior controllers as the parents were and "clearly" UNSUPPORTIVE & UNTRUSTING of their Son... it would not even surprise me that THEY refused too discuss the financial details even tho THEIR consistent complaint about the checkbook..
    Furthermore, it wouldn't surprise me that the lawyer mother & the pissed off father's (who absolutely refused to admit THEIR own fault in their failure) friends/family submitted the negative comments about the horrendous previous decor and menu changes as she repeatedly said there was anything wrong with the decor or menu.
    RI Team, I think you all did an amazing job for Michael!!! It's unfortunate that some people REFUSE to see the trees thru the forest. And obviously the customers who choose to pay less so for their preferred mediocre food clearly are clueless as to good Italian.
    Michael, REMEMBER what inspires you...Don't give into naysayers ...DO NOT LET THEM (even if the naysayers are your family) STEAL YOUR DREAMS!!!

  15. My only issue with your comment is

    And obviously the customers who choose to pay less so for their preferred mediocre food clearly are clueless as to good Italian.

    Food is subjective, everyone has their own tastes and opinions. I never liked how Chefs think they have a right to tell someone what they like

  16. Man his parents seem to hate him, i wonder if he was adopted or unplanned pregnancy

  17. That's an odd conclusion (though I guess unsurprising given your screen name).

    More likely, they're typical restaurant investors who thought opening a successful establishment was simply a matter of will and not skill.

  18. Watching this episode last night was painful, we were in awe of how bitter and mean the mother was! So sad, Mike should have left on his own a loong time ago

  19. That's not an odd conclusion from MRASoldier - Mike's parents are obviously abusive (I have worked in the field a long time, and it is easy to recognize and know it can't change with people like that). That's why Mike has to get the courage to leave, become a Sous Chef somewhere, meet new people, actually have friends, and have a life where he can actually smile. He appears to be a single child, too, and that makes it worse.

    The restaurant is almost irrelevant - it is the behavior that is so disturbing. If they were like that on camera, imagine how bad it is OFF-camera! I hope Mike gets the courage to realize they will never accept him, and start over someplace new, get a sous chef job to start, make friends, and find a girl whom he might marry and actually have a "normal" life (although I'd recommend some therapy after all that abuse, too). After all he's been through and still being a nice guy, he'll do okay ... IF he gets himself out of there. He can get another restaurant. Mom can keep her lawyer job and pay off the debts - she probably knows some tricks as to how to not lose so much.

    I would love it if someone who is in the food industry would offer Mike a job to get him away. This is a guy with training, potential and a good heart. I hope someone steps up to help this guy.

    I found this show truly disturbing and I'll bet millions around the country felt the same. They should all go on Dr. Phil now. Mike - please save yourself - and always remember this phrase: "Friends are family you choose." Make your own life and family. Get out of there - far away. You won't regret it when you see what a more normal life is like. Good luck!

  20. It's kind of interesting how many of those negative reviews are from people who don't have other reviews posted, or very few. The reviewers with some background seem to like the place.

    I wonder if this isn't evidence of the awful mom being really determined to win her point...

  21. I was thinking the exact same thing. There's something suspicious about the tone of these post-ri reviews.

  22. Yeah, okay. So let me get this straight (to ensure future editions of the DSM - Amateur Internet Diagnostic Manual are correct).

    If you are:

    1) An only child;
    2) An "accident";
    3) Adopted

    Then any of your failings in life are the fault of your parents, regardless of what age you reach or the goals that you have set for yourself. (The corollary being that if you have an only child, or had a child "by accident" or adopted a child, you must be a monster.)

    Absolutely ridiculous. All that's missing is a mention of Mike being somewhere on the "autism spectrum" or showing signs of Asperger's for you and Men Right's Soldier would be hitting for the online speculative cycle.

  23. I'm mystified by who really relies on Yelp! for reviews (not a swipe at MattFNG, these are never restaurants likely to be reviewed by a mainstream critic and he has to go somewhere for a sense of things). Maybe if I was travelling didn't have a friend or a concierge to ask, I guess I'd use it but by and large I just see petty complaints that get elevated to life-ruining events ("I had to wait ten minutes for my margarita!" or positive feedback that turns every dive into the Inn at the Little Washington.

  24. I think Mike is being shortchanged by his parents. I will never give my hard earned money to either one of his a**hole parents. Especially that snotty b**ch of a mother.

  25. I think he just lobbed a possibility out there, and people got really hyped up over the conclusions about only-children, or adopted or "unwanted" kids. This family is hurting each other equally. As the father admitted at one point, there's plenty of blame to go around. Mike is not responsible or self-motivated enough, a bit lazy and indecisive ("I don't want to cook - wait, yes I do") and that can't all be blamed on parents, despite the obvious flaws of his Mom and Dad (no need to recount).

    They all have contributed to the problem, and none of them were willing to sever the relationship, at least until the Dad walked out and didn't return for the reveal. Otherwise, Mike would've left or Mary would've shut him down long ago. Is it the old misery love company co-dependency? Or is that as much of a controversial assumption as MRA's theory of adoption...

  26. I think that's exactly how people use Yelp-type reviews: they take them with a grain of salt...

    When I'm visiting a new city and exploring possibilities, I usually can separate the silly or unhelpful reviews from those that tell me what I want to know, like what's the crowd like, or why is the food good/bad etc. Many of those can be helpful, and they're pretty easy to spot amongst the fake ones planted by owners or enemies...

  27. Do you have a brain in there?? Hello? They have invested 750,000 in their sons dream...they have given him 3 years to make it work...he pays no insurance...lives off of his parents...then whines about losing his passion. Boo hoo! With this lazy, whining son these supportive and generous parents will NEVER see a return on the investment they made in the son who they love dearly. How does he pay them back?? By letting a work of fiction crucify his parents on national TV. How do you know I am not some other crackpot? BECAUSE MIKE IS MY BROTHER AND THEY ARE MY PARENTS AND I WAS THERE FOR ALL THE FILMING! So, if you are basing your moronic comments on some TV show and some supposed experience you have...try actually using the brain you were given and recognise that this is contrived TV folks.

  28. Was the show as contrived as this post is likely to be?

  29. do not contact me crazy peopleDecember 6, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    You are completely delusional. IF those horrible people ARE YOUR PARENTS, as you shouted at us, then you are in very deep denial. They were extremely rude to everyone involved and openly verbally and emotionally abusive to their son IN FRONT OF A CAMERA. That makes them so pathological that they don't even know that that was wrong--or they would hide it away. It would never have been brought to the forefront for the scouts of the show to even catch onto. I love it when people who don't like how they came off on tv whine about the editing. "Boo-Hoo when I cursed that person out, poured a drink on that girl and kicked some guy in the groin because he asked me for the time, it was taken out of context." Well, here's a news flash for you: no one ever believes that. You know why? Because you had to say and do those things to get them on tape. Yes, a tv show wants to up the drama/tension for their audience. But, a smart, sane person knows to be on their best behavior in front of the cameras. IF those people are your parents, do they not know what a camera is used for? Are they aware of the invention of the television and internet? No one let a tv show "crucify" those people, but themselves. They allowed all that vile crap to come out of their own mouths. I didn't see Mike behind them pulling any strings. Fake? So don't read the script they gave you. I would say that the vast majority of the time, reality tv (although often contrived--I'm not an idiot after all) just amplifies what already exists in the participants, by getting to know them beforehand and knowing areas of contention that cause sparks and then with the magic of editing they put WHAT THE PEOPLE SAID AND DID, WITHOUT A GUN TO THEIR HEADS together for me to enjoy. I could go on, but I just wanted in on this discussion and I've pretty well said everything I wanted to except, oh, yeah, troll, troll, troll.

  30. A 53 yr old GrandmotherDecember 6, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    Hey LCTerrill I totally agree. There is one part in the beginning with Mother, father and Mike in a room when Robert asks Mike if he had talked about leaving. I was horrified the way his MUTHER turned so swiftly towards him, facing him, up in his face if she could reach that far, she got to intimidate Mike! It was so sad, but at the same time very telling about what kind of controlling idiotic woman she is. First she is not in a court room, 2nd this is her son, 3rd it appears that she treats father and son the same way whereever and whenever including in front of others. I have never seen such a horrible woman in m y life on TV, Off, or in a court room, or restaurant. She obviously intimidates them, the two men of the family so they leave or just shut up. I wanted to jump through the TV screen and wring her dang saggy ole neck.

  31. A 53 yr old GrandmotherDecember 6, 2013 at 4:07 AM

    This was one of the saddest shows that Robert has worked on and the network aired. The abuse that this young man suffers from his "mother" is criminal and I bet when he was younger she could have been arrested for it, or he could have been removed to live in foster care. IN all of my 53 years of being a mother and a grandmother I have NEVER seen a mother treat a child of any age so horribly, demeaning, with almost spit and fire coming out of her mouth, to his totally passive, head down, hiding in his shirt, stances. The father has also been treated like the son the same way for probably all of his marriage and he should have left her a long time ago and if he watches this show he should see why. The complete embarrassment she causes to both men in front of employees and customers, and the RI crew is unforgiveable and close to manic at least. When she said that she comes there because the customers love her and like her being there she is completely delusional, and does not get it! Does she really believe that Robert?? I mean, she doesnt really believe that statement does she?, err she was joking? Because she was just as rude, snippy, and running down her son to them as she did everyone else and diners do NOT want to hear all that. Mother needs to get HER REAR end out of there because its obvious what has dragged it down and the entire staff.
    Robert I was wondering why you did not show a video of what the entire staff said about her as you usually do with other owners? Was it that volatile that you thought she would pull off the show, or pull out a shot gun? I was waiting for that part and really was surprised it wasnt shown as usually it does have a positive impact when an owner sees how the employees feel and also sees how customers feel about her.
    If Mikes and his Dad dont grow some and get her out of there (and her friends making these ridiculous negative posts) that restaurant might close before Mike does ad a few more recipes, and it does get back on its feet securely. That would be a huge shame considering how well a cook Mike is, the great staff, and redecoration is.
    This sorry excuse for a mother just really made me physically sick :/ and there is something deeply wrong inside her to treat her son in such a way.
    In closing all the father could say was "He cant even balance a checkbook". We usually a damn good chef doesnt balance the check book, his manager office secretary does. So dad, mom get out and let him hire one.

  32. A 53 yr old GrandmotherDecember 6, 2013 at 4:11 AM

    I am with you on that Puuuuuhhleeze. I could just imagine the kind of sick stories a woman like that could make up. She is a very ill woman and I Hope MIke finds himself without her around him, his staff, and his restaurant. She really is demented in all the bad ways. I have never seen anything like it in my life and worse is through the entire filming she did not get one single clue that she is the problem and a very sick and bad one at that.

  33. A 53 yr old GrandmotherDecember 6, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    No Stella, there is alot more going on then that. The bottom line being some mental health problems with that mother that have been there for a very long time. She treats her husband the same way in a lesser value, and uses him as a tool to say the same thing over and over again. "He cannot even balance a check book". Mike was/has been treated his entire life like this by this woman and it shows, and it also shows that he is ready to get OUT of the madness and hopefully he will even if it means getting a chef job somewhere far away from that toxic woman. I am sure Robert would help him cause he is going to need it and build up some self esteem. To be a good chef, a nice looking man, a kind man and be so brow beaten was very sad to see.

  34. do not contact me crazy peopleDecember 6, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    As for the negative reviews, I always tend to overlook a lot of what's said by people who miss the good old days. I think people more frequently post when they react negatively to an experience. I admit, I do. You can just feel so strongly about it that you want to let people know. I have to remind myself to give praise when due and I usually do, but, let's admit it, not with the same fervor. And, I can't believe I'm saying this, but those old customers don't matter. The restaurant obviously wasn't covering its bills from them. It would be fabulous if everyone loved and embraced the changes, but there's always somebody who won't like it. A restaurant has to go after who will pay the bills and maybe buy the operator a reliable car every 4 or 5 years. They can't live on people who are loyal and come every Friday and every few Wednesdays (as one of the bad reviews stated). I wish they could, but it's a business. You have to reach the widest audience. A car wash doesn't only want customers with yellow cars. They love those yellow cars, but they'd ban them in an instant if it meant they would get every other car on the road. A restaurant, or any other business for that matter, fails by being too scared to lose the pennies that they either don't attract or they alienate the Benjamins.

    Go! Mike! Go! And I don't mean do well. I mean get the hell out. My mother treats me the same way and it's tough, because you know (or hope) she really loves you under all that. But whether she or your father do or not, you have to know you're a good person and it doesn't matter. It's part of their own problems. Take it with a grain of salt and find friends and maybe other family members who will treat you as you should be treated. Oh, and buy the way, I will venture a guess (I said it's a guess, not a confirmed reality for those who want to flame me) that they never bought the restaurant for you to succeed. I'm not saying they WANT it to fail, but the success or failure is an afterthought. The issue is control. Who controls you? Them? Or you? You go work your butt off in that kitchen, add excellent dishes, schmooze with your customers and if it's eventually not working out, say arrivederci and March out that door. You're the chef. They're the owners. Let them hire another chef or close it. It's their choice and responsibility. Being a chef at a restaurant that you do not own and will never have control of is not a lifetime sentence. If the time comes, get out with no regrets. I'm sure you won't see this, but this episode really touched and bothered many of us. But, who knows? Maybe you will see it. And if you do: live your life as if every day is full of hearts and roses and hopefully a cheery outlook will drown out some of the noise from the older generation. If not: go, be free and live your life with no regrets.

  35. A 53 yr old GrandmotherDecember 6, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    "We Like Mike" you are spot on and given our similar professions I believe we agree completely. I would think that if Robert actually reads these that he or even Anne Burrell could get him a chef position somewhere to build his self esteem and take the time needed to get through years of lliving and being raised by this woman. As I said before, Mike is a nice, big good looking man who should be in a good place at 30 but he has been kept "retarded" from moving ahead in life. I also thought about adoption because the father is a man who weighs in at like 40lbs, and neither of them look a bit like Mike. Also I find it unfathomable that ON TV this woman could treat Mike this way and could not imagine what his entire child hood and adult hood thus far has been like. Mike get out there, and Robert lend him a hand cause you spotted this woman right off.

  36. A 53 yr old GrandmotherDecember 6, 2013 at 4:24 AM

    Gawd Stella, you did you watch the same show we did or spend more time drinking with the bravo channel and the secret word? LOL. You are almost as far out there as Mikes Mother, very strange responses.

  37. So you've been subject to a lifetime of twisted, manipulative, degrading parenting as well. I feel terrible for what you & your brother Mike have been through. I hope that someday you both can understand how sick it is for parents to treat their children this way, and can break this family-destroying cycle of emotional abuse. Peace and blessings to you, and especially to Mike.

  38. A 53 yr old GrandmotherDecember 6, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    Oh Lord, someone has to always come out of the woodwork and say they are related!! I should bet on this stuff right? Welcome Sissyboo you sound like your Mother.

  39. A 53 yr old GrandmotherDecember 6, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    Just toss in how the Mother talked to Robert who came there to help them get the restaurant moving forward and making some money right? And her actions of wanting to flip him off. This was from the very beginning and who just who would act like that towards a man who has his heart in making it work for all of them???

  40. Also...ahem...nobody questioned this rather outlandish figure of $750,000. That's an operating loss of $3750/week over the four years the place has been opened. How does Mom have the time to work enough billable hours down at the old law practice, and still micromanage the decor/waitstaff/menu/everything at the restaurant, to support this magnitude of negative cash flow? No wonder she didn't show Robert the books!

  41. do not contact me crazy peopleDecember 6, 2013 at 5:07 AM

    Hmmm. Just looked at the menu. The prices looked fine. Anyone who wants cheaper wants it at the expense of the restaurant. With what they are offering, there should be no quibbling unless the ingredients are not the best.

    As for complaints over the number of things to choose from, there is definitely merit there. The menu is lopsided. There are 12 appetizers (including 2 salads) and 14 entrees (including pizzas and pastas). I prefer to have more entrees than appetizers to choose from.