Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Restaurant Impossible - Gratifi Kitchen and Bar Update

Photo - Food Network
Tonight on Restaurant Impossible, Robert Irvine and his crew are in Houston, Texas to makeover Gratifi Kitchen and Bar.  The kitchen is so filthy that Robert Irvine actually shuts it down minutes into his visit.  The owner Kevin has a poor attitude and sarcasm that is causing tension between him and his employees as well as him and Robert.  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Gratifi Kitchen and Bar 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 have to say I came here before and did not like it at all. The food was not good and the service was really bad...Trying this place out again, it was pretty good....If they keep up the good food and service I will continue to come. Just try it out again, you may be surprised like I was."
  • "We also got a ton of happy hour apps because they are only $3 each (awesome deal) and everything was very good. We also shared two deserts and they were gooood, which is saying a lot because I don't really care for sweets. Long story short, give it a shot. I also hear they are very dog friendly and sell dog food, sounds cool if you're a dog owner. And ask about the specials!"
  • "I went for breakfast/brunch and everything was great!  The food, the service, and the decor (inside and out).  Another bonus - the patio is pet friendly.  I will definitely visit this little gem in the neighborhood again soon!"
  • "AMAZING!!! This place is great. What an awesome little gem in the suburb of Montrose, so to speak. The tuna nachos were delicious and the short-back ribs were incredible. A must! Came here during dinner and just wondering if brunch is just as great? Don't let the lack of crowd throw you off, people just don't know about it yet."
  • "Gratifi has consistently good food and the wait staff is always very friendly....I love the brunch menu"
  • "The service was pleasant. It was quiet in the restaurant on a chilly Tuesday night...The prices are reasonable....Honestly, I'd come back to Gratifi's over Barnaby's for the burger or the tuna. Simple meal, peaceful, quiet and open. I only bring up Barnaby's because it's about 3 blocks away."

Negative Reviews:
  • "Underwhelming is the operative word here.  Floored that Robert Irvine was able to spend  $10K on this renovation, and these are the results.  Aside from a few items, I don't see any change in the menu and the prices jumped WAY up.  Ruined a perfectly good Montrose spot."
  • "Whatever this place used to be called, well this place is just as bad as that one. Total time to sit down, order drinks, meal, get it served, then finally cash out = 2 hours...Food that was incredibly underwhelming...Don't waste your time."
  • "Service was a little strange too. Our waitress was sweet, but kind of... off?...In addition, food delivery was so slow... and a table next to us found hair in their food. So aside from the new look, I unfortunately don't see Gratifi Kitchen + Bar as being one of Restaurant Impossible's biggest success stories."
  • "It doesn't seem like a too bad of a review but the service was horrible..I had to ask for everything like the silverware and napkins, it just took forever for the server to do any task. If I go back I would go back to try the burgers."
  • "First off, you probably read it as "graffiti" but it's really supposed to be pronounced "gratify".  Pretty dumb right?  That being said, you won't find much gratification here.  We came at the absolute slowest time and saw plenty of servers sitting around rolling silverware but still had miserable service.   It took forever to order, it took forever to get drinks, and the waiter somehow managed to get 100% of our food orders wrong."
  • "I read the reviews and knew about their poor customer service. However, we wanted a place to take our dog and have some breakfast.....Our dog had a great time with everyone stopping by to pet her which is the only reason I gave it an extra star otherwise, it would have been 1star."
*Reviews from Yelp

Other News and Links:
  • Here is the Gratifi website, Facebook page, and Twitter page
  • Here is a menu from before the makeover and the menu after the makeover.  Not too many differences besides a few less entrees and sandwiches, and the prices being about $1 more for sandwiches.
  • The restaurant was previously called Ziggy's Healthy Grill and was open for 20 years until the owners changed the name to Gratifi and changed the concept to focus more on craft beer. (Link)
  • The owner Kevin purchased a majority stake in Ziggy's Healthy Grill about six years ago, and at the time, there were three Ziggy's Healthy Grill locations.  Two of those locations have since closed, and the third one is Gratifi (Link).  So just five years into buying 3 restaurants, 2 are closed and the last one needs Robert Irvine's help.  Doesn't sound like a good investment.
  • Someone on a Houston forum stated, "I noticed the other day they were "Red Tagged" by the city... I'm guessing it had something to do with the work done in the middle of the night a few weeks ago by the television crew. I wonder what permit they did not pull?"  I couldn't find anything about any permit violations though.
  • The Restaurant Impossible makeover for Gratifi was on January 22nd, 2014.  On January 16th, just one week before the makeover, the restaurant had a restaurant inspection by the city of Houston.  There were 5 violations found here.  The violations include: Insufficient ventilation, floors not maintained in good repair, food establishment not kept free of unnecessary items, sanitized equipment/utensils not stored properly, and food service manager not in possession of a Food Service Manager's Certification.  
  • After just having a restaurant inspection, you would think the restaurant would be clean a week later, but the show description says the kitchen is so filthy that Robert shut it down.  So, did Houston's restaurant inspectors drop the ball in their inspection a week before Restaurant Impossible came?

The reviews of Gratifi Kitchen and Bar are definitely mixed with the positive reviews liking the happy hour specials and the fact that the restaurant is dog-friendly.  There are a lot of negative reviews about service and wait time for food, and people also don't really like the name of the restaurant.  To be honest, the first time I read it, I read it as "graffiti" as many others probably do.  Robert doesn't change restaurant names too often, but this one probably would have been a good candidate.

I think it will be interesting to see if the other restaurants that the owner owned, then closed are brought up on the show at all.  It will also be interesting to see the filth that Robert finds to see if a restaurant inspection should have uncovered that.

UPDATE - The restaurant closed in 7/2016.

*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. What's up with forcing people to answer a survey to read your content. Guess I'll come back when this survey is gone.

  2. It takes literally 2 seconds and that works for something like 3 days. It's becoming more and more common so just get over it.

  3. Interesting information, watching the show now. Thanks for the updates.

  4. Glad to know that I wasn't the only one that kept seeing "Gratifi" as "Graffiti".

  5. Do what I do and answer the questions incorrectly.

  6. He is offering this site for free and puts a good amount of work in it. It's hard to monetize content like this on the internet. Fair enough don't come back to the site until he removes the surveys, but if everyone takes that attitude, don't expect there to be a site when you do come back. Stop being so self righteous, how much work do you give away for free?

  7. I stopped watching this one 5 minutes in. What do I care about this idiot (a freaking wealthy former accountant) getting a boost when he barely even cares enough to clean his restaurant and kitchen?

  8. Princess StarlightApril 3, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    After the guy kept on saying "yes" to everything/was just saying things to please Robert. I just turned off the TV and did something else.

  9. How hard is it to keep a place clean.....don't they see the dirt?

  10. I've never been to a restaurant that allowed animals. Doesn't seem very sanitary.

  11. You'd be surprised. In my previous job of 10+ years I inspected hotels and if there was a restaurant on premises, that also. I saw some horribly nasty kitchens and even though company policy was to eat in the restaurant the night I checked in, I stopped. I just couldn't eat there while worrying about what I'd find the next day. I thought like you, can't they see this?

  12. Very common in Europe. Here it's patio only. Would love to be able to take my dogs to a restaurant.

    I'll expect to see this one closed.

    Robert did get rid of the foyer, isn't that a structural change that requires a permit? The contractor should at least know this, and by this time Robert & the producers should as well (heck, they should have known it ahead of time) and you aren't getting a permit & inspection in 24 hours -- unless you set it up with the city ahead of time.

  13. I'm in Northern California and lots of restaurants near me allow dogs outside in the patio areas (and sometimes only in part of the patio areas). I don't think they're allowed indoors unless they're service dogs.

  14. It often bugs me when these "rescue" type shows change the name, but in this case I think it would've been a very good idea!

  15. There's no way this place will be open much longer. Even if this guy is super wealthy it's too hard to carry a million in debts.

  16. With the graffiti-type sketch next to it, our brains just fill in the expected (real) word.

  17. Even Robert ended up noticing that, and pointed it out to the guy, teaching him how to get stuff done rather than just "yessing" it away.

  18. Princess StarlightApril 4, 2014 at 10:35 AM

    Hopefully, this owner, will get it together.