Pinehurst Country Lodge in Greeley is being featured on "Restaurant Impossible," a popular reality show on TV's Food Network this Sunday, June 9 at 10 p.m.
It would probably be nice for any restaurant owner to have a chance to be on television. How would you like it, however, if you as the owner became the main course?
Following the theme of the program, host Robert Irvine looked the place over and went and chopped, diced, seasoned, fried, boiled, flipped and generally fricasseed the faltering steps of Pinehurst's owner Roger Murray. In the end Irvine and his troupe took what was there and recreated it to serve a scrumptious and appetizing gourmet delight blending atmosphere, decor, a fine tuned staff, revamped menu and recipes, all designed to make happy customers and a profitable enterprise.
Roger and his wife Sandy Murray opened Pinehurst Country Lodge eight months ago. The original section dates to the early 1900's and was known as the Pinehurst Lodge.
They started with zero experience.
Roger states that he lost his job in the corporate world when his company, based in the New York market, closed down. Being in his 50's, he faced the realization that he may not be able to reestablish himself in his former career at that stage. They looked to try something new.
New it was.
It was the end of the summer season, and despite their best efforts, they struggled with their fledgling attempt at running a restaurant. They were $350,000 in debt.
They were familiar with the TV program "Restaurant Impossible" and would watch it even before they thought they would try the restaurant business. Unknown to him, his wife filled out an application to be considered for an upcoming edition.
To their amazement, they were chosen.
The whole idea of the program is to show the struggles of the owners, present to them a plan of how the producers were going to change things for the better, and then go do their thing.
They taste the food and of course didn't like it. They look over the place and saw ways to change it. Didn't the owners do anything right?
It was a lesson in humility.
Murray said it wasn't so hard for him to be "beaten up" since he knew he needed help and was willing to listen. He said it might have been different if he had been doing this business for 20 years and have someone come in and brutally critique what he did.
Murray received a crash course on profitability. The staff was evaluated and retrained. The menu was streamlined and new recipes introduced. Most visibly, the producers had the lodge torn up inside and rebuilt, as well as refurnished.
Page 2 of 2 - Thirteen local companies were hired to come do the work. The transformation took place in a day and a half. Meanwhile, the Murrays were kept away.
At an appointed time, with everything ready, the Murrays were brought it for the unveiling. Their look of astonishment, caught on camera, is a climatic highlight of the show.
Murray says they did a "wonderful, wonderful job" and has had good feedback from his clientele. He says he was probably picked because his story is a bit unusual- changing careers in mid-life and facing an uphill struggle, not knowing what they were going to do.
The quality of the food, he says, has improved significantly.
His staff is very excited about the program, he said. They are planning a viewing party Sunday night when the program airs. The publicity, he said, will be great, with the show being seen by millions of people who will discover Pinehurst County Lodge.
"They turn down thousands of applicants monthly. We were very blessed to have been chosen," he said.
Pinehurst Country Lodge is located at 108 Greeley Lake Road just off Route 434.
For more information:
Pinehurst Country Lodge (570)685-4240