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'Restaurant: Impossible' gives Woodstock diner a makeover

Published: Saturday, June 29, 2013 11:45 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, June 29, 2013 11:47 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Mike Krebs - mkrebs@shawmedia.com)
Angelo Paloumbis stands in his restaurant, Angelo's Family Restaurant, in Woodstock on June 28, 2013. Paloumbis' restaurant was recently featured on the Food Network's "Restaurant Impossible" and was remodeled.

Adjusting to the new Angelo's Restaurant on the Woodstock Square will take time, Co-Owner Angelo Paloumbis says.

It's taking him time, along with his regular customers. But, he said, he's not regretting his decision to bring in Chef Robert Irvine as part of the Food Network's popular show, "Restaurant: Impossible."

And he'd do it again.

The "It's All Greek to Me" episode featuring Angelo's, at 117 E. Van Buren St., recently aired, and now can be seen as a repeat at various times on the Food Network. Through the show, Irvine is given $10,000 to turn around failing restaurants within two days.

At Angelo's, Irvine and his crew modernized the decor and scaled back the menu, offering new options, such as the popular lamb burger, stuffed pepper and pork tenderloin, as well as fresher ingredients.

"It was a good experience," Paloumbis said. "Would I go through it again? In a heartbeat, but without family involved."

He said he preferred not to go into details about how the undertaking impacted his family, but did say that the show failed to relay that it was his wife, Marianna, who actually invited in the television show through a letter.

"It was a Valentine's Day gift to me to make the business better and benefit everyone in the family," he said.

"The whole premise of the show was to help boost the business so we can make a little bit more money so I can actually pay for mine and Marianna's wedding as a religious ceremony, instead of a civil ceremony," he said. "There's been a snafu in that right now, at least for the time-being."

Since Irvine's vist, business is up, he said.

Through a quote on the Food Network's online site, Paloumbis said the restaurant is now making at least a 10-percent profit.

Though, he said Friday it's difficult to put a definite number on it.

"Some days are better than others," he said. "Right now, we're just digging out of debt little by little."

Reviews have been mixed on various social media sites, including those posted on the restaurant's Facebook page the Food Network's site.

Some have said they don't like the new decor, which has gone from more of a 1980s look to sort of retro modern with more earth tones. Sill, others approve of the changes.

"I personally like the look," Paloumbis said. "It's trendy. It has a little Victorian feel to it, but modern. The design team that was involved was phenomenal. It doesn't feel like a diner anymore, even though it is. We're slowing getting the place back together, hooking up music and TVs and stuff like that."

He said it is expected that not everyone will be as pleased with the changes, including those made to the food.

"Any time you have a change, everyone needs to get acclimated to it," he said. "We're still in the same place, the same people. You can still get anything you want, even if it's not on the menu. If we have the ingredients, we'll still make it for you."

Cutting back the options on the menu has helped the business cut costs, he said, and the food has become more focused.

With fresher ingredients, the restaurant's side items have improved, with patrons having the option to order fresh fruit with their entrees instead of fries, for instance, he said. The spaghetti, marinara and alfredo sauces are all homemade, he said.

And the Egglplant puree that comes along with items, such as the pork tenderloin and fried chicken, has been a hit, he said.

"Even our regular hamburgers, which now are all hand-packed are extremely popular," he said.

Now open for dinner, Angelo's offers all the breakfast, lunch and dinner items all day long. Prices did go up slightly, Paloumbis said, but only based on the market. Portion sizes did not decrease, he said. 

"We are going to be bringing back some daily specials little by little," he said.

As for his time with Irvine, Paloumbis described the famous chef as "really down to earth off camera" and "extremely intelligent," saying he'd like to meet him again some time outside of the business.

"I have nothing but high praise for the man," he said.

"Honestly, it went a little better than I expected," he said of the way the "Restaurant: Impossible" episode featuring his business turned out. "I knew I was going to get the brunt of it. It was better than I expected. . .  It was an interesting experience."

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