Restaurant Revisited: Pelican Grill | FN Dish – Food Network Blog


Restaurant Revisited: Pelican Grill by Sara Levine in Shows, April 25th, 2012

Robert Irvine swooped into Seabrook, Texas, to help owners John and Laura Walker save their breakfast and lunch spot, the Pelican Grill. The Walkers filled us in on how business is going a few months after their Restaurant: Impossible makeover.

Three months later, the Pelican Grill is thriving with a 40 percent increase in business and expanded hours that include dinner service.

The success comes on the heels of a bizarre setback. One month after the renovation, a car crashed through the front door of the restaurant in the middle of the night, causing $6,000 in damages. Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, repairs were made quickly and the Pelican Grill remained closed for only eight days.

Suppliers now deliver food twice a week to the restaurant, giving John the time he needs to properly manage the front of the house. He makes just a few trips a week to buy fresh fish.

John and Laura are hiring more staff to handle their boom in business. Laura created new job descriptions and checklists to help hold employees accountable. The head cook, Oscar, quit, along with a few servers. Oscar’s replacement now manages the back of the house. With the recent success, the owners have promoted their son Bob to night manager.

Chef Robert truly wants everyone to succeed and only tells the truth,” Laura and John wrote, reflecting on their Restaurant: Impossible experience. “Everything he says needs to be said and heard by the owners and staff.” To Robert and the entire Restaurant: Impossible team, “we could never thank you enough for your kindness, concern, knowledge and dedication. All of you are our extended family.”

via Restaurant Revisited: Pelican Grill | FN Dish – Food Network Blog.

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8 thoughts on “Restaurant Revisited: Pelican Grill | FN Dish – Food Network Blog

  1. I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God….

    Some things never cease to amaze me. I’ve known this restaurant since Fred Tawill had it. Fred had problems too; however, at least he sincerely cared for the business and the people. Shortly after Fred passed away, his son sold the business to Mr. Walker. From the very beginning you could tell that he really wanted to see the restaurant succeed. He made a lot of changes to the interior (btw, which was a great improvement), he changed up the menu (which was a good thing and bad thing), he started allowing network meetings to meet there on Tuesday mornings (which gave him more advertisement for his business). Granted, John knew nothing about the restaurant business; however, he was excellent at customer service. The root of all evil was and still is: Laura Walker. She was hateful and fake from the get go. My personal thought is that she doesn’t want John to have a “hobby” or “dream”. She definitely wears the pants in the family and it is almost like John is afraid of her. When she worked on the weekends she would scream at the servers and still to this day WILL NOT ALLOW them to take the food out of the window and serve it to the waiting customers at the table. She will do it herself. She is a very spiteful person. You can tell the difference when she is working there from the times that she is not. You walk into the restaurant and the air is so thick that it nearly chokes you. It is a really bad energy radiating when she is around. The servers do not stand around doing nothing. She will not allow them to do their job. A “few” servers did not quit since the shooting of the show. The only server that was on the show that quit was Deanna. Sure, since then they have hired more servers who have quit but to give the impression that they have totally restaffed is untrue. Yes, Oscar did quit also. He quit because Mr. Irvine suggested that he be Kitchen Manager and do all the ordering for the restaurant, make home-made salsa and other home-made dishes using fresh ingredients,etc. and then he was (Wait for it…. Wait for it….) NOT ALLOWED to do it. For Mr. Walker to say that he was not going to let Oscar do the ordering because he was not just going to hand him a “blank check” so he could order the necessary supplies and jack up the food bill, is ridiculous. Mr. Walker wasn’t willing to pay the price of the food order to keep the restaurant stocked. Finally, Oscar just got tired of the same ol’ same ol’ “stuff” and walked out. Mr. Walker is still running back and forth to the grocery store all the time. This past Sunday, they had to close at 1:30PM because the restaurant ran out of food. And if the truth be known, Restaurant Impossible was INVITED to come to their restaurant so that they could receive a free make-over so that they could become an upscale restaurant instead of a Mom and Pop business. Watching the show really upset me. Laura portrayed herself to be a victim, the woman working two jobs to take care of her family, blah, blah, blah. She is so fake. And for John to stand there and let her blame him for everything did nothing but make him look like a Pansy. So, if you want to feel sorry for someone you may as well keep trolling because these people are not worth your sympathy.

    Sorry for such a long post but when you tell the truth, you should always tell the whole truth not just spit on it and polish it up to make it appear shiny.

  2. I worked for Mr Fred Tawill for 5 years and fell in love with him and his wife. Like mentioned above, he wasn’t perfect. In fact, customers came more for the show his temper would put on than for the food. But he did love the art of cooking for the public. He took pride in serving big portions, fresh products, hand made biscuits and breads… the man spent hours just baking before he opened.

    Fred loved his employees and would do anything in his power to help them out. It was a tragedy when he grew ill. Only two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, he died, leaving a huge hole in a lot of lives, including my own.

    I didn’t want to see the biz go down the drain. He worked almost 20 years building it up to standing room only on the weekends. So when it was sold to Mr Walker I came back and helped him in the kitchen… I actually had to teach the man how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Walker thought it would be a snap to open and run a cafe even though his only experience was 26 years in the car sales industry.

    People in town were excited to see me there since they knew they were getting good food that wouldnt get them sick. The place stayed packed when I worked. And the Walkers were unable to handle the stress. They would run into the kitchen screaming obscenities at the crew, throwing plates and one time a full bread rack across the kitchen.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, when I had to clean the grill, they had no gloves to protect my hands. One day I had a thick layer of hot black grease roll up and over my arm covering it from my fingers to my elbow. John’s oldest son would not let me leave until after I had swept AND mopped the kitchen. By the time I made it home, my arm was still bubbling.

    One Saturday, It was really busy, I was home but my daughter was doing dishes. John walked in when he was in a panic and pissed off. He opened up the dish washer, pulled out a rack of thick, ceramic plates and THREW it at my child’s head! That was the last straw for her. She calmly walked to the time clock, punched out and left the building. The entire kitchen crew walked with her over it. John jumped in his car that was out back and flew around the building trying to catch up with everyone. Luckily my daughter heard the car and moved out of the way in time because he was barreling down on her!

    Yeah, to see what he has done to the place is heart wrenching. And to know that they have once again conned people into their story of being victims is just sad. Maybe the Food Network can start doing some real investigating before they just go out and help unworthy people like that.

  3. As Terri said earlier, Mrs. Walker absolutely wore the pants. I didn’t care for her much so I just ignored her. I am Terri’s daughter. When I worked there we were constantly running out of food. There also had been food that was expired that he made us serve. The day he threw the dishes at me, I realized how bad of a temper he had. When I quit he continued to yell at me saying I can’t quit and that I was fired. I walked out the back. John did come flying around the corner in his car and almost hit me. It also took him until April 2011 to get me my W2′s after I had been calling since January of 2011. This was a case of bad management and poor business.

  4. Soon they will exit the business. People like these can not survive without the help and support of good people working for/with them. The best action you took is walk out and keep going with your lives. I’ll be surprised if Robert did not saw some of that while interacting with them.

  5. *reads comments* Wow. What a revelation. There is no way the Food network could have known what these people are really like, seems they got conned like the public. But never fear… a leopard doesn’t change its spots – they will fail in the long run.

  6. It’s sad that these people dishonored Fred Tawill’s memory! The community this restaurant serves are the real victims!

  7. When I watched the program I thought it was bery odd that Mr Walker was SO agreeable to change his ways. Not an argument of any kind. In hindsight Mr Walker had no intention of changing anything so why argue.

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