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Eat & Drink

Toronto restaurants hope Takeover beats Makeover

Posted by Robyn Urback / September 8, 2012

Restaurant TakeoverRestaurant Makeover is no more but in its place is the familiar sounding Restaurant Takeover, a new show on the Food Network that promises a thrilling season of GTA restaurant overhauls. As avid followers of the show will know, Restaurant Makeover seemed to have carried a bit of a curse over its five seasons, with one made-over establishment after another eventually shutting its doors after the grand reveal. La Cabana, Six Steps, and Cluck, Grunt, & Low were just a few of the restaurant casualties.

Now, it's difficult to ascribe fatal responsibility to the show in and of itself. After all, certain restaurants probably reached out to the show in an effort to salvage their businesses, only to find a little paint and a new dish or two couldn't offer a viable resuscitation. (See Chef David Adjey's take on the show here). But what's clear is that Restaurant Takeover producers have adopted a new approach, being more careful in their restaurant selections and implementing new makeover methods to try to ensure long-term success.

Curious whether this year's crop of restaurants felt good about their, um, takeovers, I reached out to a few of them to see whether they thought the Takeover makeovers made for good business, or just good television.

"I was thrilled," says Curry & Roti owner Rozanne Persad, whose makeover aired this week on Food Network Canada. Curry & Roti is hardly a fleeting business, having been in operation since 1973. But as Rozanne tells me, the restaurant was looking for a new look — a younger look, and a way to appeal to the next generation.

"My daughter is 23," she says. "And we've noticed with that age group, they tend to eat out on a daily basis. But they want to go somewhere that is updated; more contemporary. And "contemporary" is just what Restaurant Takeover delivered. "It's exactly what I wanted done, but just didn't know how to do it." Rozanne says she's noticed a spike in business simply as a result of a few promos being aired.

Mark Yacoub, one of the owners at Brownstone Bistro, says he too experienced a spike after his Restaurant Takeover makeover back in February, adding that the buzz does eventually die down.

"Initially, you get a huge boost — everyone sees the sign, and they want to come back to see the difference. But after that, you have to be careful once the fad disappears. It's a matter of having good customer service, and still keeping the same, relaxed environment."

Brownstone Bistro has 13 years under its belt on Yonge, with the idea to approach the show spawning, essentially, from a disagreement. "We'd been looking to do renovations," Mark says, "but myself and the other owner couldn't fully agree what we wanted done. So we kind of just said, 'Let's leave it in the hands of someone else.'" As for the end result, Mark says the show did a "phenomenal job."

Jorge from El Fogon says he was equally pleased with his Takeover experience. He says he wanted a renovation to keep up with the changing face of St. Clair West, adding he's noticed increased popularity with younger crowds since his restaurant makeover four months ago. And as for the Restaurant Makeover "kiss of death," Jorge says he was never worried. "Those other places, I think they were already in bad shape," he says. "For us, it has gone very well."



Brad / September 8, 2012 at 11:08 am
Glad to see Igor, I liked him
MrsPotato / September 8, 2012 at 05:36 pm
i freakin' hate Igor. He's not funny. And it's painful to watch him try to be.

I've seen a few episodes, and it's Restaurant Makeover. Even the little 'oh, that's alotta money to give you' skit. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ....
Joshy / September 9, 2012 at 12:34 am
I never understood when people talked about a Restaurant Makeover "curse." It's an industry where the overwhelming majority of businesses don't make it, and this show featured restaurants already on the brink of extinction before the TV crew arrived - of course most of them eventually failed.

A weekend-long reno and two cooking lessons for a clueless chef may make for good TV, but it's hardly a formula for real life success for a tanking 200 seat restaurant in a suburban strip mall...
Paul replying to a comment from Joshy / September 10, 2012 at 02:20 pm
Exactly! A huge percentage of restaurants fail within a year or two. And I don't think Cluck, Grunt and Low's closure had anything to do with RM. BlogTO's own article, Top 10 Deadpool of 2009, quotes a staff member saying "the owners just decided that they didn't want to do it anymore".
Kay / September 11, 2012 at 05:20 am
Absolutely agree! If you can't cook and don't know how to run a restaurant/bistro no TV crew can teach you that in a week. There are few top restaurants with Michelin chefs but the vast majority is really bad. Everyone who takes a cooking course believes he can be a chef. It's ridiculous :D No wonder such places survive only one-two years. I must admit that it's really funny to watch it sometimes though.
Aqeel / September 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm
I love your show
Jessi / September 14, 2012 at 03:57 pm
I just saw the "the peninsula" episode and I do not see how this show is any different from Restaurant Makeover except the name. The designers skin is horrible and distracting. Come on guys, where are the filters and makeup?!
Rhona / September 23, 2012 at 05:04 pm
Saw "the peninsula" restaurant episode, it may have a nice makeover but the food is still terrible, as the people who own and run it can't cook! It's too bad they didn't actually cook what they said they were going to, the chef did a great job!If you don't have good food don't expect to have a thriving business.
Johanne / October 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I'm so tired to hear Igor complain. He thinks that he's always right...come on...He's always fighting with the designers. Chill out, you sound like a baby whinning all the time. I do like the show but Igor, he's getting on my nerves. Maybe it's part of the show...or maybe the show is getting to his head.
Vanessa / October 16, 2012 at 09:54 pm
Igor makes the show.. my husband and I watch this frequently and we both love him.. if you hate him why watch it as he is a big part of it. go watch gilmore girls or something.
don / October 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm
i hate the so called designers they spend all the money out front. but they have no idea what they are doing. you take a food cart the no need $30,000 spent on tables etc but what they need is a good kitchen to make good food. so i think you need to teach your group that money spent in the kitchen is just as important as out front. and igor can do a better job designing then any of your so called brain designers.
mon / October 19, 2012 at 03:59 am
I hate to say it, but I'm getting sick of seeing Montana and Igor arguing. They don't work well together, he has no respect for her and undermines her in front of her clients. Her themes and designs work well for her target market, but I just don't like the way the filming is edited. You make her look inexperienced and irrational. If I were her I'd ditch the show before her reputation as an artist gets too trashed, and her business tanks because of the way she's presented on this show.
wayne / November 1, 2012 at 10:37 pm
Glad to see Olga Ivanova back on the show. She is super hot and Paula Velez can re-design my bedroom anytime.. Great show, hope it lasts several seasons.
sam / November 6, 2012 at 01:04 am
Love this show !! The only thing that bothers me is that in this day and age of 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle' , to see Igor smash anything and everything in his path, in my opinion is iresponsable. I,m pretty sure that the owners can recuperate some of that $15 000 by selling or reusing those materials.
Karen / November 7, 2012 at 09:37 am
Such a shame that Food Network Canada couldn't be more creative with a whole different show. Watching Igor makes me reach for my remote control because he is so fake. I remember when he did my friend's restaurant a few years ago and the place started to fall apart a few months later. Jacob Richler got it right when he said "Curse of Restaurant Makeover" and they certainly aren't doing any favours for any restaurant owners out there. In fact, my friend would have been better off to invest her money with a certified restaurant consultant who actually knows what they're doing. Instead, we get to watch people on TV suffer more.
ryan / November 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm
Igor has to go..there are thousands of contractors that want his job.this prima donna takes too many liberties and whines.. If I was the designer I'd hire someone else who is a better team player..he likes the face time on tv..- I've stopped watching cuz of him
Nichole / November 30, 2012 at 03:21 am
So I just started watching this show... I wonder if anyone else noticed ignoring wearing a restaurant makeover shirt during the demo day scenes? Sooo the same show, same process, same themes... Wow
Me / November 30, 2012 at 07:44 am
Well, they may be idiots but they are funny!
Ken / December 2, 2012 at 07:26 pm
I can speak from experience on working on the show, and dealing with all the B.S. that was involved with the show, Igor is the biggest, crook, thief, scammer, and diva. Igor does whatever he wants on the show, puts his wife Olga in front of the camera, and if something doesn't go his way, it's war, and everyone backing up Prince Igor! If someone stands up to him, they will either get fired, or he will set up the individual to screw up so he gets removed. Starting from cotractors, electricians, designers, if anyone got on his bad side, they would be removed. The main reason for changing the name of the show was for legal purposes, as there were several law suits in progress with Restaurant Makeover. Igor steals material from the tv show and uses it for his own side jobs and charging his customers for it.
The other half of the money thats being matched by show pays for the the film crew, food, and other misc., so technically the restaurant doesn't see any of the money actually being put into the restaurant. Majority of chairs, lights, tables, are just some of the free stuff the show recieves from companies for a simple add of the company logo at the end of the show.
As for the show itself: Restaurant Takeover is so cheap, they cant even purchase new t-shirts or even the apron for the chefs just like seen in this episode of El Fogon. Igor's repeating comments on every episode "we have so much work to do, paint, electrical, plumbing", blah blah blah... is so over played, it makes people sick hearing it. In conclusion, Igor and Olga will always be on the show(as long as the show is being filmed) as they are really close friends with the owner of Tricon Films and Television, Jameel Bharmal. This show is full of drama, and politics behind the scenes, and is hopefully cancelled in nar future!
William / December 30, 2012 at 06:03 am
I think that Montana Burnett makes the show. She smart, witty and extremely cute
Trent replying to a comment from ryan / January 12, 2013 at 05:56 am
RM you take a restaurant that sucks and try and fix it in two weeks... If it fails... you can't blame the show only yourself for your crappy resturant and how you manage it... You can't blame others for your failure but yourself take ownership of your mistakes and not blame others!
David / April 11, 2013 at 07:41 pm
Why the Food Network would torture people with this old formula is beyond me. The producers should have changed more than the name and, most importantly, got rid of Igor. He's not funny and his work is nothing to write home about. Let this be a warning to anyone out there that has been approached to have their restaurant on the show. Save your money and hire an experienced restaurant consultant.
les / August 19, 2013 at 01:46 pm
Restaurant Makeover, Takeover, whatever...the show sucks! Food Network, get some new shows with a fresh premise. The endless makeover shows on Shaw Networks are tired, stale and boring, especially this one!
Trich / October 17, 2013 at 12:21 am
New version seems too harsh with Igor being plain rude. I miss chefs from Makeover but overall still good television.
Jean Giroux / October 29, 2013 at 08:26 pm
Igor is not rude just theatrical
I loves it
reza / January 29, 2014 at 09:41 pm
Such a shame on food network.THERE IS MORE TRUTH ON ACTION MOVIES THAN RESTAURANT SHIT OVER.These people make the restaurant owners to sign a one sided illegal contract by not providing any chance for the owner to seek legal advise.THE SHAW IS SO UNREAL AND FAKE.THEY ARE BUNCH OF CROOKS.I DO NOT TRUST TV REALITY SHAW ANY MORE.
Dave / June 9, 2014 at 12:49 pm
Igor is a useless fool, not even licensed carpenter and his wife is even worse. I wouldn't let this jackass in my front door, and has he never heard of recycling? Total jack off and a nitwit.
Miranda Warren / July 9, 2014 at 05:22 am
Igor is great!
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