Over 50 carpet cleaning companies in Santa Cruz and Connoisseur was the 1st pick to clean the carpet when the popular TV show came to town to do a renovation at Hoffmans restaurant.
SANTA CRUZ — There is no typical shoot for the Food Network program “Restaurant Impossible.”
Each struggling restaurant the program remakes in 48 hours on a $10,000 budget poses its own set of challenges.
Monday, the television show, including celebrity chef host Robert Irvine, invaded Hoffman’s Bistro and Patisserie in downtown Santa Cruz. Along with Irvine, designers and a construction crew worked around the clock to revamp the restaurant’s decor, menu and service.
Tuesday night, the restaurant reopened more than two hours behind schedule. When Irvine finally emerged at 9 p.m. the patient crowd waiting to dine cheered and snapped photos.
“This was the biggest and toughest job we’ve ever done,” the chef said. “I think there is blood on everything.”
Even after opening, the renovation was kept under wraps with plastic covering the windows. However, it was clear that the gold paint still on the facade had been replaced inside with walls painted in white and varying shades of olive. Wood paneling was laid over the floor tiles, and the long chain of bakery cases was gone.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
The tight deadline invariably leads to last-minute scrambling to finish the last few details before the door.
“The shoots never go smoothly,” said executive produce Marc Summers. “Our initial scouts might have an idea where we are going, and then Robert comes in and goes in a completely different direction … We’ve been two hours late with the reopening before, which is never good because you don’t want to anger potential customers.”
So much needs to get done during the frantic two-day process that oftentimes certain jobs only end up 90 percent complete.
“You hope the carpets dry in time after being cleaned,” Summers said. “You hope the paint dries in time. In one episode we had painted chairs that hadn’t dried, and then you have to replace the customers’ clothing. Basically, it’s like cramming 5 pounds worth of stuff into a 2-pound bag in a limited time.”
The show’s producers said Santa Cruz has been incredibly welcoming and accommodating, and at least 30 area residents volunteered to help with the project.
The Hoffman family opened their restaurant on Pacific Avenue a decade ago, immediately poured $500,000 into renovations, and has been struggling to get into the black since. The restaurant’s business dropped 25 percent during the recent economic downturn, June Hoffman said.
While the family reported doing well with breakfast and brunch, their dinner service has never done well. Many of the people lined up outside the restaurant Tuesday evening said they never knew Hoffman’s served dinner.
“This restaurant is in debt and they have nowhere else to go,” said Irvine, wearing his trademark black shirt and blue jeans, during a brief break from shooting earlier in the day. “‘Restaurant Impossible’ gives hope to these restaurants that could go out of business otherwise. Hopefully after two days and $10,000 we can help put this restaurant and this family back together again, and give them a new lease on life … We are behind the eight ball now. Who knows if we will get everything done on time.”
Tuesday afternoon the restaurant, and the parking lot in back, were a hive of activity. Designer Nicole Facciuto reported in with supervising producer Jill Littman to say she found a piece of furniture for the restaurant for $10 at a nearby thrift store.
Workers sawed pieces of wood, arranged new turquoise-colored furniture and filled salt and pepper shakers. On monitors in the parking lot, producers watched a live feed of the filming going on inside in which Irvine went over pricing with pastry chef and owner Ed Hoffman.
Reservations for the grand reopening filled up in a half-hour, said associate producer Justin Leonard, and a total of about 400 people were expected at the renovated restaurant Tuesday evening.
Leonard said they expect the Hoffman’s episode, the final one for season two, to air sometime this winter, most likely in January.
I’m proud to say we met the challenge, we got the carpet clean and dry enough for them to continue with the face lift.
We started work at 2:30PM and left around 4:30, unfortunately the work crews made a mess of our artwork
It was impressive how quick everything came together but seeing all that sawdust fall on my freshly cleaned carpet drove us nuts..
This was a great opportunity to show our stuff and we’d love the challenge of cleaning your dining room too..