Food Network's 'Restaurant: Impossible' takes over BR pizzeria

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POSTED: Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 11:00pm

UPDATED: Monday, March 17, 2014 - 11:56am

You might recall Food Network's Chef Robert Irvine and maybe a couple of his head on tactics on the TV reality show 'Restaurant: Impossible.'  He and his team are bringing the lights, cameras, and action down south this winter.

The show has one mission:  turning around a failing restaurant including the food, the staff, and an entire makeover in just two days. "[We] change people's lives for real," said host Robert Irvine. The target is Mama Della's on Jefferson Highway. But how do they do it?  "We're not a reality show that comes in with a ton of people and a ton of things and they do it.  We actually do the work," said Irvine.  "We've got two days and ten thousand dollars to fix a restaurant that is hemorrhaging money."

In 36 hours, this restaurant will be totally transformed. And with a lot of hard work and a little bit of tough love, the people at 'Restaurant Impossible' say Mama Della's Pizzeria will never be the same.  "My job is tough because I have to tell them the truth," said Irvine. "Sometimes the truth hurts."  Fireworks are flying already.
"Well we've already had tears within the first ten minutes. I don't think [the owner] likes me already, and that's fine, but tomorrow [after the transformation,] he'll like me.
"He knows he's got problems," added Executive Director Marc Summers.  "The only reason he's called us is to change them, and now he doesn't want us to change them, so there's big conflict going on in there right now."

Some details are underwraps, but we had to get a little preview.  "What we're going to try to do is bring it some warmth, bring it some character, and bring it a few new recipes to turn it around," said Summers.  "The food will be twice as good. the crust is good, but the sauce is disgusting. For all you people who like the sauce, just wait til tomorrow," added Irvine.

And while NBC33 was getting a sneak peek, so were some local bystanders.
Fan, Jennifer Smith told us, "I didn't think that me popping through the bushes was going to be a good idea, I didn't think he was going to stop and be so nice and put his arm around me and everything.  I'm just, I'm just, I'm just all excited!" She laughed as she and Irvine took pictures together.

The team takes eateries from struggling to successful once a week every week, but Irvine says the hour long show means more to him than just good TV.  'Restaurant Impossible' is not a reality show, it is real. These are real people with real problems, and we give real solutions."

With all of the work ahead, Summers found a little time to practice on his South Louisiana pronunciation. "Baton Rouge, did I say that right?" laughed Summers.

The episode airs in the spring. Irvine told us he's enjoying the warmer Louisiana weather.  The big re-opening will happen Friday.

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