What does it take for a restaurant to make it in today’s economy? How enticing does a menu have to be to keep customers coming back? What do you do when your much-loved restaurant is on the brink of falling apart?
Food Network Canada’s newest series, Restaurant Takeover, helps restaurants that are in dire need of saving get a major overhaul in a last-ditch effort to give these eateries a fighting chance at survival.
Not only are the menus of these restaurants getting a makeover, but its decor is also being revamped by the show’s experts. From the food on your plates to the lighting over your head, each of these businesses are given a brand new start.
“Restaurant Takeover specifically targets small family businesses that truly need a new start before it’s too late,” says designer Paula Velez. “The ultimate goal of each takeover at the end of each episode, is to leave the owners a refreshed restaurant where they can create a new legacy within their community.”
This fresh take on the popular series Restaurant Makeover, pairs two Toronto-based chefs and designers who literally take over a restaurant and give these business owners a second chance at success with a much-needed facelift.
In just six days, two industry top guns must improve the restaurant’s failing menu and horrible decor if there’s any hope of helping these desperate owners bring their business back to life.
“The goal of the show is fundamentally to create a fresh opportunity through the fusion of design and food” says Velez. “As a designer, my most important task is to really understand the owners and take into consideration the location, competition and most importantly, the menu, and to create a space that complements each aspect.”
Chef Corbin Tomaszeski, who is the executive chef at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and has 20 years of experience in the food industry under his belt, says the show looks for restaurants who have “really lost their way and need an update.”
“They go through an extensive interview process from the Restaurant Takeover (RTO) team and are chosen because they have something special but have just lost sight of it,” he says. “When you get family restaurants involved, there is always going to be a lot of passion and drive to succeed, they just need some help and that’s why we come to help.”
In order to get a better understanding of what these experts are up against, they go undercover with the use of spy-cams to get footage of what customers would see. Nailing down the cause of the problems will help them come up with a proper solution, as opposed to a quick fix that could fail leading these restaurants to shut the doors to their establishments once and for all.
“(We want) these restaurant owners to open their eyes and see what is working now and what isn’t working,” says Tomaszeski. “Food trends are always changing and what people want change. These owners get stuck in what they have done forever and don’t see the bigger picture.”
“It’s hard but they usually need to swallow a lot of pride and say to themselves, ‘Ok, this doesn’t work,’” he continues. “I want to help them by introducing new things, understanding what needs to change and introduce fresh ideas.”
The first season of Restaurant Takeover targets 13 restaurants in Ontario, and shooting for season two is already underway. In the premiere episode airing tomorrow, Tomaszeski and Velez redo Village Pizza and Restaurant in Tottenham, Ont., northwest of Toronto.
The RTO team also includes the familiar faces of Massimo Capra, chef and co-owner of Toronto Italian restaurants Mistura and Sopra Upper Lounge, and designers Cherie Stinson and Cheryl Torrenueva. (You may recognize Torrenueva from HGTV’s Colin & Justin’s Home Heist and Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible.)
The series will feature 13 restaurants from across Ontario, including:
- Village Pizza, Tottenham; August 30
- Curry & Roti, Scarborough; September 6
- Peninsula Resort, Pefferlaw; September 13
- Shamrock & Thistle, Etobicoke; September 20
- Sunnybrook, Toronto; September 27
- El Fogon, Toronto; October 4
- Hillbilly Heaven, Hamilton; October 11
- Vindaloo Indian Cuisine, Scarborough; October 18
- Brownstone Bistro, Toronto; October 25
- Royal Caribbean, Toronto; November 1
- Rap’s, Toronto; November 8
- Naan & Kabob, Toronto; November 15
- Frankie’s, Toronto; November 22
Catch Restaurant Takeover as it makes its premiere on Food Network Canada, Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET .
Are you interested in applying to be a part of Restaurant Takeover? If your answer is yes, send in your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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