Crew members, including chefs, designers and workers with the Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible” descended, for lack of a better term, on Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet on Jan. 22 and virtually re-created the restaurant decor, updated the menu, shared a reopening dinner with those lucky enough to grab reservations on Jan. 24, and then headed off for their next gig.
In their wake, they left a lighter, airier restaurant, a more minimalist menu but the same hospitality that George and Teresa Hayek and their son, George Jr., have maintained for the past 17 years.
The success of the update venture, which cost about $10,000 to complete, is now up to the Hayeks and their clientele.
The full extent of the work and the actual changes are a closely held secret. If the Hayeks or their staff spill the beans before the show airs in about four months, it could cost the restaurant $40,000 for breaking a nondisclosure agreement.
The rules didn’t stop a small crowd from braving some of the coldest temperatures of the year to try to catch a glimpse of the television show’s host, Robert Irvine, or the design staff that was leading the remodeling of the restaurant.
“Robert, Robert,” the crowd of about 30 people called as they gently pushed their way beyond the line in the parking lot pavement set by the show’s crew. From inside the restaurant, there was no response.
Outside, however, workers painted chairs and wood slats that would replace an open area near the bar.
Inside, power tools rumbled, old carpeting was pulled up and the glue that held it in place scraped from the floor and barriers that separated parts of the dining room came down. New carpeting, bought locally, was laid into place, dark wood was painted white and the restaurant buzzed with activity.
Outside, crowd members pulled out cameras each time the door opened.
Alas, it was in vain. If Irvine was inside, he wasn’t willing to meet his public — at least not on that Tuesday.
All was not lost, however. The people outside got the inside scoop on an upcoming program to air on HGTV. Gary Stein, the host for the new show, “Renovation: Impossible” has been sitting in with “Restaurant: Impossible” for the past three renovations. His show shoots its initial episode Feb. 4-6 in New Jersey.
By Anita Crone
For The Times