It’s Joe Bastianich and Chef Tim Love tonight on RESTAURANT STARTUP’s latest episode “Act Now, Before It’s Too Late!
How do they top last week when Joe changed a chef’s life by footing the bill for a three-month internship in Spain, before funding a wine and tapas place in Portland, Oregon? That story, here.
Tonight it’s the battle of dreams for two eateries running out of time to rent space and get to work. Recap posted below.
Currently operating a hometown Southern comfort food location in Kingston, Tennessee, the team of Travis and Robert are ready, in their opinion to go big time.
That means opening a place in Knoxville in a formerly sketchy area that’s turned it around. But, space is going fast and without acting now, the dream will die.
At least that’s according to owner Robert. His executive chef Travis has his own battles to deal with and might characterize going big time as his last chance.
Listen to their story and pitch to the guys in the video clip posted below.
Robert’s got his grandmother’s recipe book on the set and while he lets Tim take a peek, when Joe mistreats it, it gets crazy. Get ready for the return of Hurricane Joe, as he hollers at Robert, who issues a warning in return.
Yeah, that’s the spirit.
Taste, Oklahoma City
The team from Taste is also looking for an upgrade, but not just in location. Currently operating in Oklahoma City, OK as a Lebanese food cafe and market a/k/a a deli, Clayton and Stephen have a dream to morph the business into an upscale restaurant.
That dream is called Taste Mediterranean Tapas, which would be a small-plates Lebanese place. Steve and Clayton are life partners, not just business partners and it looks like they work well together.
Oklahoma City is booming and leased space is difficult to find. They’ve found a place and need to get it going, if they are to snag it for opening Taste.
Joe’s in a better mood for this pitch but, we get a personal story of how he met his wife, then fired her from the restaurant he operated. Or as he says, “We got married and I fired her ass.”
Are you as obsessed with Joe Bastianich as I am?
And yes, the guys also have a grandmother’s recipe book that is more than 100 years old. Is this the battle of the grandmas or RESTAURANT STARTUP?
Gloria Jean’s won the chance for an investment because Tim and Joe were concerned that the jump from running a deli/cafe to a restaurant was too much for the guys from Taste.
Joe actually cited Robert’s passion during the argument as a reason he thought it might work out. Tim agreed, along with being excited about a southern comfort food eatery in Knoxville, a city he knows well.
Disaster was indicated very early in the process, when Robert met with Antonia LoFaso and refused to increase the prices of the entrees. He called Bastianich a bully and got his back up about someone throwing his weight around because it was tied to a wallet.
That was a must and had been stressed after the pair was chosen for the pop-up experiment. Robert’s main concern was that customers from his other location would come to the big city and see prices up to 50% more for the same item. He also said that his grandmother would want people of all economic strata to enjoy her food.
Question for Robert: Would she have said that with an investment on the line?
Robert stuck to his guns and prepped the menu for tasting by Antonia who just lambasted him, warning that the investment was riding on the menu pricing. Then she showed Robert how to make it a value and somehow got through to him by simply adding more food to the plate and dressing it up.
The restaurant decor was fantastic, including fresh flowers on the tables. The food was great, and dinner service was ready to begin.
Robert chose to run the front of the house instead of using a hostess and it became a mess, and a bigger mess as time went on. The goal of turning the tables over for a second set of diners was not met and the chaos drifted back to the kitchen.
Travis was putting dishes up that were getting cold because of the wait staff and the back up of orders. Tim helped calm the chef when he began to deliver dishes to waiting customers. He got Travis to concentrate on his job and allow Robert to sort out the rest.
Robert took heat from Joe and didn’t know how to handle it. Instead of taking the criticism and just putting his head down to do better, he got resentful, and then disappeared from the scene to gather himself.
Throughout the service Robert was stone-faced and nary a smile crossed his face. He kept from barking back at Joe because he feared he’d blow the guy out of his shoes. Joe respects being challenged, and doesn’t think that restraint is a sign of strength. He wanted passion, but what he got was pride, as he would say later on.
Robert’s attitude of doing things his way and refusing to bend to suggestions, no matter the tone of voice or the choice of language used, was what doomed him.
The food was praised by the diners and by Tim and Joe, but ultimately both passed on an investment. Tim was sad about it since he could see how it could work, just not with Robert and his attitude.
In the post-credits info screen we learned that the guys went back to their small town place and were seeking new investors.
Joe Bastianich tested Robert, perhaps pushing him too hard, but this is what you get when you look an expert in the face and decide you know more than him. You might not like Joe, but you cannot deny his success in the industry.
CNBC airs new episodes of RESTAURANT STARTUP in primetime Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT Image/video credit: CNBC, used with permission