Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Restaurant Impossible - Pasion Latin Fusion Update

Photo - Facebook
Tonight on Restaurant Impossible, Robert Irvine and crew in Albuquerque, New Mexico to makeover Pasion Latin Fusion.  Owners Monica and Elvis are married and opened the restaurant a few years ago.  There is tension between Monica and Elvis's brother, who is an investor in the restaurant.  Also, the menu at the restaurant is supposedly leaving the customers of the restaurant confused and frustrated.  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Pasion Latin Fusion 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:
  • "The food is simply amazing. My favorite dishes are the fish tacos and the empanadas. The service is great too! I appreciate the warm, welcoming atmosphere which is perfect for a date night or just hanging out with friends"
  • "The food:  I can't even begin to say how delicious the food is.  I have eaten several different things on the menu, and every single one has been amazing"
  • "What a treat tonight's dinner was. Yucca fritter with spicy dipping sauce ... bacon wrapped plantains .... jalapeno margarita ... passion fruit aqua fresca with rum .... that was just to start!  Everything was fresh and delicious, plated just right, served at exactly the perfect moment."
  • "You can't do better for the price. The menu has been changing a lot but the fish tacos are mind blowing and I love to see a family restaurant make it. The food is truly latin fusion and you won't be disappointed. I go here about once a month with my family and it keeps getting better"
  • "We highly recommend this restaurant for those that enjoy trying and sharing different types of food without spending a fortune."
  • "You can really tell they have had a makeover as many things are much improved with several great additions to the menu."
  • "The menu had lots of interesting choices. It was hard to decide on what to order, so we picked an appetizer and a couple of entrees to share. Everything was excellent!"

Negative Reviews:
  • "Food was good and inventive...Service was nothing to brag about - only one waitress. Margaritas were terrible."
  • "Food was good. Service was very slow. About 20+ minutes to get drinks after two times following up with waitress. After 20 minutes, she brought a glass vs. the pitcher. and for the sodas just brought the bottle with no glass. A couple sitting at the table next to us decide to leave after they had been waiting 15+ minutes at the table and nobody showing up"
  • "Service was so bad it affected the food.  My friend was trying to be objective about flavors and so on, but the conversation was forced back to our server time and time again.  Personally, I enjoyed the fish taco and the flavor of the sauce they use on them....We have never felt so unwelcome at a place of business."

*Reviews from Yelp, Tripadvisor,

Other Links and News:

  • Here is the Pasion Latin Fusion website and the menu which is mostly small plates.
  • There is also a staff section on the website, where Elvis has listed recognitions including  “Top 5 Chefs of Albuquerque”, “Best Fusion Restaurant”, “Best New Restaurant” and “Best Kid Friendly Restaurant”. Elvis has been seen numerous times on KOB TV, KASA Fox, Local IQ, Local Flavor, Albuquerque Journal and Alibi newspapers, and now the Food Network."  There are also links to his personal blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.
  • Monica's section notes that she "worked as manager, hostess, and waitress until the week she gave birth, her hours dwindled more following the birth of their beautiful baby boy, Eliel Bencomo. Noticing a lack of management and experience in the front of house specifically, Monica unexpectedly thought of applying for a spot on the Food Network show Restaurant Impossible. The producers liked their story, flew Chef Irvine and the crew out a few months later, and the rest as they say is history. Now, Monica focuses on being a stay at home mommy, takes classes at UNM, and runs a successful blog on her websites and"
  • Chef Elvis cut 16 inches of hair off his head for charity last year, and there are more charity events on the restaurant's Facebook page.  This falls in line with my theory after the first 2 episodes this season that Restaurant Impossible is trying to help people that give back.
  • Here is a video of Elvis talking about his Restaurant Impossible experience.  He starts around the 2 minute mark and says his problem was spending too much time at the restaurant and not using his time wisely.  He also said the food and reputation wasn't the problem, but people didn't know who they were or where they were located.
  • The restaurant is currently offering deals on


The reviews at Pasion Latin Fusion both before the Restaurant Impossible makeover and after the Restaurant Impossible makeover are very good.  The bad reviews seem to be about service, and even those compliment the food at the restaurant.  The restaurant is probably one of the best reviewed restaurants that I have seen picked for the show.   Everybody seems to love chef Elvis' food, and the restaurant has even received local awards in the past for "Best Fusion Restaurant" and "Best New Restaurant."  It will be interesting to see if Robert Irvine criticizes the food tonight as that doesn't seem to be an issue.  Elvis also stated people didn't know who they were or where they were located, so maybe these issues will be addressed.

The restaurant also seems to be doing whatever possible to get their name out there with social media accounts, blogs, local TV appearances by Elvis, applying for Restaurant Impossible, etc.  Maybe they do not fit the normal failing restaurant picked for the show, but they were able to convince producers to pick them, so more power to them.  Maybe this family drama described in the show description will be interesting.

Pasion Latin Fusion should have no issues succeeding with the Restaurant Impossible publicity combined with the food that Elvis is putting out.

UPDATE 6/2017 - Pasion Latin Fusion closed and the restaurant posted the following message on their Facebook page - "Being entrepreneurs and becoming restaurant owners at age 23 was one of the toughest things we ever did. But our character has grown in ways we consider invaluable. We considered signing a new lease and continuing this journey, but decided no amount of success or money was worth risking our marriage or seeing our kids grow up. We believe when you make decisions based on integrity instead of convenience, you have support from the MOST High. 🙏👆 To us, making value-driven decisions is the path that leads to authentic success--the kind that doesn't just look good on the outside but feels good on the inside ...😊.... Tomorrow (June 1st) is the big day! Last day of Pasion, hope to see you here for one last meal and even if it is to go, lets go out with a bang!"

*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. Imagine having to do a recap each week..

  2. We live in Albuquerque and only found out Robert was coming on the day he arrived, so it was too late to get in on seeing it happen or visiting the restaurant. I was bummed. Here is the restaurant's Facebook page. There is one post that said they would be vlogging their response to the episode.

  3. Not sure if I can post this or not (if not, PLEASE remove), but the arrested person is at the link and it's not the woman that is part owner of the restaurant.

  4. Nice work. I have updated the post to remove that part.

  5. Thanks Matt. I didn't know if there was a better way to get it to you. If you want to remove the whole comment, that works too :-)
    You do a great job. I wish I'd found your site sooner!

  6. Matt, you need to employ some spies. I don't suppose Food Network is likely to tell you where they're going to visit so you won't be able to do "before" visits but with all those Facebook followers you might consider recruiting people to visit the "after." Give them a list of things to look for (cheap plywood vs. real wood, try an old menu item and a new one, visit unimproved parts of the restaurant like the bathrooms, quiz the wait staff, etc.) and get some help to pep up your already good reviews to the next level.

  7. She looks like Frankenstein's ugly sister. Wow!! Who was she??

  8. I just find it annoying that he is yelling at the volunteer workers to hurry up. Why? Why can't they take 3-4 days? Tonight he says "Well if they can't get it done, I will have to scale back on some things." Why? So he prefers to give the owners a shitty makeover just so his ego can finish on time? I have no idea how he gets so many volunteers to work two days for free, but then he is pretty rude to them too. I find his attitude towards the design employees and volunteers abrasive.

  9. At least this week the owners were not crazy froot loops, with major drama issues, tax debts, and the objects of the hatred of their employees and the town. These owners were normal people who needed some training and guidance.

  10. That's why I appreciated tonight's series premiere of Save Our Bakery.

  11. This is the formula they need to stick to: good people that actually have a chance at succeeding. Some of the episodes I want to turn off 5 minutes in when I know the restaurant has no chance and the people are either too unlikable or flaky to succeed.

  12. I wonder if any of the volunteers has ever told him to Go F himself. No doubt it would not be shown. It would be funny, though.

  13. As of today's date, Seven has closed it's doors for good.