Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Restaurant Impossible - Zoog's Caveman Cookin' Update

Tonight on Restaurant: Impossible, Robert Irvine and his crew are in Port Hadlock, Washington to makeover Zoog's Caveman Cookin'.  The restaurant may be one of the dirtiest Robert has seen and the owner has lost his passion for the restaurant, leaving his daughter to run it for him.  While Robert is there, the government shows up threatening to close the doors of the restaurant.  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Zoog's Caveman Cookin' 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:
  • "It is nice to have a place in Port Hadlock to get a good meal. My teenagers already like this place, so they will be excited to see it now....We live in Port Townsend, about 15 minutes away, so we will definitely be back."
  • "We had our first meal here since the renovation and it was wonderful. The meat is always good, here, but the vegetables were beyond outstanding.... Our server was a delight - she kept a good on us since we were a party of 12."
  • "Locals love this BBQ; it is good food and you seem to get plenty of anything you order. They were just visited by "Restaurant Impossible" so the decor has been upgraded and the menu reworked. Business had increased significantly and the show hasn't even aired yet. If you like BBQ and sports it is a great place to do both."

Negative Reviews:
  • "Went there last Saturday night at 6:00.   The place was almost empty.  They were out of ribs, brisket, pulled pork and mac and cheese.    How can you be out of all those things and still call yourself a bbq place.    I had been there the week before and they were out of pulled pork and chicken.   Won't be going back.   I don't care what they look like on TV."
  • "First time customers.  My husband was a volunteer for the restaurant impossible show. I was not impressed. The place had no personality.  There was an old smoke smell in there. It was not pleasant. Waitress was eating at bar. Roof was leaking. I do not see success for this place."
  • "One major flaw was that the food was between warm and cold when it needed to be temperature hot. Not fun eating French fries or mac and cheese cold and the brisket was a little on the dry side(also not hot enough) but had good flavor.  The spicy bbq burger had more bun than burger but the burger itself was good.  We will give it one more try mid-week. Here's hoping they are successful.  Had to ask for spoons and cream (coffee). Coffee tasted as if it had been sitting a very long time."
  • "Decided to give the "new" Zoogs a try tonight. We both ordered burgers as his burgers used to be the best around...Used to be is the key word....Final score- previous Cave Burger a 9 out of 10. Current burger a 3.  Very disappointed after all of the hype around Restaurant: Impossible- this place used to be a great place to eat (even with it's "cosmetic blemishes"
  • "On a Friday night they ran out of French fries. Sad since the menu is extremely small. A table of 4 got up and left. Service was horrible. No water came until the third request. Couldn't get the checks, and when they came they were wrong. Good luck, Zoog."
*Reviews from Yelp, Tripadvisor

Other News and Links:
  • The Restaurant Impossible makeover happened in mid-November 2014.
  • Here is the Zoog's Caveman Cookin' Facebook page, and here is their website.
  • Their Facebook page posts make it seem that Zoog's is more of a bar than a restaurant.
  • During the makeover, Robert Irvine posted on Twitter, "Day two of my mission in WA, Zoogs Caveman cookin . To date the worst I have ever ever seen . Seriously wait till you see this one"
  • Owner Bret "Zoog" Forsberg is a poker player who has competed in the World Series of Poker and the episode is titled "Betting the House."
  • On the Zoog's website, there is a video that is described as a "sizzler" designed to get the attention of someone at the Food Channel, with the idea of producing a weekly series."  So, it looks like Zoog has tried to get on the Food Network in the past.
  • Zoog apparently wrote a book called Driftin', which is available on Amazon and advertised on his site.


There have been more negative reviews than positive reviews of Zoog's Caveman Cookin' since the Restaurant Impossible visit and most of the negative reviews are about the food.  There are complaints about cold food, bad food, and the restaurant running out of menu items.  The few positive reviews seem to complement the new interior.

It seems like Zoog is an interesting character, which may be the reason the restaurant was chosen for the show.  Instead of getting a weekly series as he may have hoped for, he is on the Food Network due to a failing restaurant.

UPDATE - Here is a very long post-makeover article about the restaurant and the episode.  Zoog says business is up 20% and they are happy with the experience.  The restaurant passed a restaurant inspection less than 2 weeks before the Restaurant Impossible visit, and Zoog said the restaurant was "as clean as it had ever been."   The part where Zoog's family approached Robert in the production tent to ask for help about his drinking was staged by the TV producers, although their concern was real.

*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's counseling sessions are getting increasingly more irritating. The cards were lame.

  2. Rochelle Hopkins FitzpatrickFebruary 5, 2015 at 2:13 AM

    I found it interesting that zoog and the food network site put in the clarifier (paraphrased): refrain from drinking... "WHILE AT WORK..."

  3. The best thing about this episode was that RI showed how easy it is to beat alcoholism...some people claim they try for years and go to meetings and collect chips. RI was able to stop an alcoholic in two days (and $10K).

    Seriously, when the guy claimed he was shocked that the IRS showed up was bizarre. I'm guessing that they've been trying to collect from this deadbeat for years.

  4. Only deadbeats are government workers

  5. Being a pro punster, I enjoyed the card puns at the end...funny, I always saw Robert as a "straight" man. ;)

    Seriously, sucks for Zoog to have an heart attack, but can't say it was a surprise. I hope everything works out for him and his family, but I can't say I'm optimistic.

  6. I always say that when the kitchen/cooking/food prep areas are dirty to the point of being unsanitary, the owners deserve to fail. Period. Turn off the cameras. Everybody go home. Don't give them a $10,000 makeover. Don't give them 25 cents.

    You don't need years of restaurant experience and a culinary degree and an MBA to know that your kitchen needs to be kept clean. And if you honestly don't understand that - or you're just unwilling to do it - then you should fail.

    Game over. Thanks for playing.

    And this is a good place to pose the question that gets asked in all of the chats about place as dirty as this one: where is the local board of health...??? If Zoogs has been open for two years, then why haven't they been hit with about 30 dozen major health code violations and shut down multiple times...??? As Robert said when he was looking around, the build-up of filth on the food prep surfaces in the kitchen didn't happen overnight. They've likely never cleaned anything since they bought the place.

    I really am heartless when it comes to basic stuff like this. I don't care how likeable the owners might be or what they've been going through financially. Robert isn't exaggerating when he says, 'You're going to kill someone.' People who eat at that place are going to end up in the hospital with salmonella poisoning, ptomaine poisoning, botulism poisoning or God knows what else. Again, that kitchen wasn't just 'disorganized' and 'in need of a good cleaning.' It was unsanitary.

  7. If Bret (or Robert) really were to have been serious about eliminating the drinking, then Robert should have made Bret pledge to his family that by the time the show aired he'd be able to show three months worth of attendance vouchers from AA or a similar substance counselling agency.

    Bret drinks an entire keg per week and he drinks while he's performing his job. He's an alcoholic.

    And an alcoholic's promise to stop drinking doesn't mean anything.

  8. You mean like the entire socialist military?

  9. Yep, clean up a filthy kitchen and it will be gross again a week later with the same people running it.
    How these place don't get shut down amazes me. Our local health inspector writes people up for things most people do at home. Who doesn't keep raw and cooked meats in the same fridge at home right? But there is no excuse for a cutting board covered in bacteria sitting out for days.

  10. I'm from Port Hadlock and I have been to Zoogs Caveman Cookin before. It was downright awful. The restaurant area was shut down due to septic tank failure ( it was backing up into the building) yet the bar was still open to the public on the condition you didn't use the bathrooms, because when used it backed sewage into the kitchen, bathrooms etc. (Ewww) I'm honestly surprised they haven't been shut down by the Jeff co. Health Dept.

  11. I respect people who take the risk to start a business even if they fail, guess that's a hard concept for You if you've only worked for government

  12. My hopes were up that RI had seen the light and would become watchable again after the Shade Tree was not to be.

  13. So he's an active alcoholic and a poker player with money troubles. Sounds like he might have a gambling addiction too.

    After the make over patron had to ask for spoons and a server was eating at the bar. poorly trained staff.

    And yes, it does come down to the owner, but I'm stunned by these dirty kitchens: does no one on the staff think to say anything? Don't any of the line cooks have any compunction about their cooking space?

    I give this restaurant six months, tops.

  14. A keg a week?? Let me guess...big red nose and red cheeks. Favorite beer is Rosacea Red.

    Bars usually tap 16 gallon kegs and he goes through 1 a week by himself? No one stops drinking for any amount of time when they drink that much. Forget AA, "Zoog" isn't long for this world if he doesn't get into rehab, and it should be sooner than later.

  15. And I'll bet to himself he said, "Yeah...I'll be getting right on that."

  16. I've done both, worked for the Fed and started a business. It's the middle and upper level government employees who are the deadbeats. Grunts like I was worked hard for the less than private sector money we were paid.

  17. I would have though his liver would have given out first.

  18. Exactly. If the kitchen was that far gone when the TV crew showed up, then it's going to end up in that state again. It just will.

    And the word I'm going to keep using is 'unsanitary.'

    During a routine health inspection, owners can get cited for code violations as simple as 'improper storage' of used table clothes that are waiting to be picked-up for laundering by a commercial laundry service.

    And food-specific violations can be as basic as the temperature in the walk-in fridge being off by a only one or two degrees. I mean, can you tell right now if your refrigerator at home is one degree 'warmer' than it was yesterday...??? Probably not. But that's the kind of detailed safety information that restaurants are required to monitor. And in most cities, a temperature issue is considered a 'major violation' that needs to be corrected within XX hours, or else the establishment can loose its business license.

    So, when boards of health (supposedly) are on the lookout for violations as basic as these, how in the world has Zoogs been able to operate an unsanitary kitchen for two years without being shut down...???

    I'm not without compassion for my fellow man, but I don't feel sorry for people who try to charge money for serving food to me from a filthy kitchen.

  19. What a disgusting crap hole. No excuse for the vents, etc to be that dirty except for complete laziness. I'm appalled.

  20. Also he can have a full house, but the government will always have a royal flush if he's behind on taxes.

  21. short answer. Yes
    semi-long answer:
    I don't worship uniforms. One of the fuctions of government is national defense, but the US has not been in a meanigful war since WWII(and if you dig deep in history even that could be debated..don't forget the US initially didn't care about Germany expanison in Europe and don't forget the US sided with the SOviet Union who was commiting the same type of crimes against humanity as to complicated to discuss here, but just Google Niail Fergson: The War of the World)

    Too Long Did Not Read Answer:
    the Military is more of welfare jobs program and crony capalism for defense contractors

    Yes Zoog, was deliquenent on his taxes(as just about every other resturant on this show has been) but at least he took the effort and risk to start a buisness..

  22. My concern is not the restaurant owner or the restaurant food or looks. If I lived in that county, I'd show up at the next county commissioner meeting, show them the parts of the video showing the kitchen cleanliness and ask what the inspectors have been inspecting the last two years.

  23. This is why I rarely ever eat at restaurants. Health inspectors are not doing their jobs.

  24. It's sheer laziness and carelessness when they don't keep the kitchen clean.

  25. Wow, they really should have been.

  26. What I couldn't get over was when Robert pointed out the smell, and they all just shrugged and said they knew the place smelled bad.

  27. The update at the end did not sound promising.

    "Sales up 20%" from next to nothing

    "Zoog is drinking less" less than a case of beer a day.

    The Manager seemed to think she was doing a good job before. Why? They kept running out of food and they still are. She was shown waiting tables, I think she is a waitress that likes the title of manager.

  28. If you drink a case of beer a day, which is a keg a week, and the quit cold Turkey, you can die from the withdrawals. He needs to go to a medical facility to quit.
    Roberts should have sent him to the doctor to get checked out, he was so red he looked like he could have a heart attack.

  29. Thats why he goes upstairs to drink, he is not at work there.

  30. Me, too! I'm meticulous in the kitchen, and unless I can see the kitchen and watch them preparing the food, I'm not too interested in eating there.

  31. They don't die, they just find better way to hide it and keep drinking.

    One band I was in had a guy who was a real bad alcoholic. His drinking got to the point that we told him if he didn't quit, at least at gigs and at practice, he was history. He profusely promised he would only bottled water from then on. The first night of his bottled water pledge, he was staggering drunk by the end of second set. It turned out his bottled water was straight vodka. They'll find a way to keep drinking.

    Postscript; Instead of firing him that night, I quit. The others in the band wanted to give him a pass and another chance. The band called it quits two months later....too many problems with a certain member getting drunk every night.

  32. How many restaurants in a row have we heard Robert say "This is the dirtiest restaurant I've ever seen" ? I'm growing bored with the same old,same old and NEVER watch the "compilation shows".Using clips from other episodes is a very cheap way to create a "new" show. Faithful viewers deserve better. I like Robert so I keep tuning in.But every new episode I swear I'll quit watching.

  33. This is yet another reason why Robert should NOT be practicing outside his field of expertise.

  34. I barely pay attention to the show anymore. I'll put it on as background noise.

  35. Incredibly lame.

  36. You're right. He did have a heart attack. They stated that at the end of the show. He was VERY red when Robert was in the kitchen showing them the dishes. It almost looked like he was drunk. But you're right, he should have sought medical help to quit that habit.

  37. Ha! I was equally underwhelmed (but not necessarily surprised) by the pallid update information that was listed in the tags at the end of the episode.

    Sales are up 20%.

    Ok. Great. Good job. But...

    They had pretty close to zero sales before RI showed up. So, 20% more than next-to-nothing probably isn't going to help them get out of the financial sinkhole that's actively swallowing their business.

    Zoog is drinking less.

    That's probably true. Hospitalization tends to put a damper on your chronic alcohol consumption - at least during the time that you're inpatient, that is.

    In all fairness, this place is a 'mom and pop' operation, at best. It's never going to be The Ritz Carlton. So, we need to approach it with a different barometer. And that's totally fine.

    Even so, they should be getting the basics right. You know, stuff like having enough potatoes on hand so that they can serve french fries with their barbecue sandwiches.

    This one is another example of how a fundamental lack of knowledge in basic restaurant operating procedure is going to guarantee the failure of their business.

  38. Yeah, I'm kinda of numb to Robert saying, 'This is the worst (kitchen/food/staff) that I've ever seen.'

    But, that's the show.

    If Robert doesn't do his fake puking thing for the camera very time he opens up a dirty refrigerator, then there's no drama, apparently.

    His bombastic rantings and histrionics have just turned into white noise for me, most of the time.

  39. "If the kitchen was that far gone when the TV crew showed up, then it's going to end up in that state again. It just will."

    That's something I think about every time there's a dirty kitchen on the show. If they're that lazy, they'll become lazy again. Clutter is one thing, but dirt is another. It's also a business, not a home. Different rules. Those kitchens are just plain dirty, and that's dangerous.

    I do wonder about the health inspections, too. Kinda sheds a bad light on whatever town they're in...

  40. Yeah, probably a lot of it was from the carpet. That seems to be a theme that happens over and over again in these places; embarassingly dingy carpeting. If they can't afford to replace it, they could at least shut down for a day, rip it out and I dunno, paint the floor or something! This place really was a DUMP, though... Lipstick on a pig kind of thing. :p

  41. Yes! These places really make the towns themselves look bad/suspicious.

  42. Yeah, the 'dirtiest/worst restaurant' thing reminds me of Tony Schiavone on old WCW broadcasts proclaming 'this is the greatest night in the history of our sport' time after time. Even on Thunder! :p

  43. Not all who drink heavy are alcoholics, some use it only to escape. We have no information on which this man was/is.

  44. It wasn't even close to being the dirtiest. Has he already forgotten McShane's or Buster's Crab Shack? I won't be watching again.

  45. Think it was Racsals crab with the dead animals and rotting packages on meat on the patio.

  46. If you drink a case of beer every day and hide away from people to drink it you certainly are an alcoholic in some sense.

  47. Rascals was my go to place for homemade restaurant kill. He has used that "dirtiest place ever" line about ten too many times. AAAAAuuuuuuuggggggghhhhhh!!!!!

  48. I'd like to see them turn things around, but I get the sense that Zoog maybe wants to venture out into other areas, kind of try to become "known". I also don't see any indication that the revenue will make much difference. If a collector comes to shut you down, and you have no money to speak of, it won't be long before you're out of business. Not to mention that his drinking could become an issue again. I don't have high hopes for this one, but I am rooting for them anyway. I'd love to be proven wrong, but if there's mostly negative reviews with only a 20 percent increase in profits in a few months time, it seems the writing is on the wall. Wish only the best for these folks, though. Also, if the cleanliness doesn't remain maintained, they need to be shut down for safety reasons. It's not the dirtiest ever, but it was nasty. Good luck, Zoog and family.

  49. Ding, ding, ding...!!! No more calls. We have a winner. ;)

    Sure, no one on the show used the word 'alcoholic,' but the facts speak for themselves. No one tried to disguise them and Bret didn't deny them.

    The daughters actually said on camera that he's drunk or nearly drunk almost every day at work. And the daughter who was in charge of the alcohol orders said that the restaurant was buying one extra keg per week of his favorite beer just for him to drink. By himself. Mostly in private.

    You do the math.

  50. I am totally disgusted with the way Irvine so glibly addressed the man's obvious alcohol addiction issues. Like it could just be wished away. I used to love RI, but now find it totally unwatchable. I only watch this program when it can be played on DVR player in the background...