What happens when the cameras stop filming on a reality television show

This is the only place that you will read about this interesting story, and you won't find this news anywhere else, to include the Internet. The action doesn't necessarily stop once the reality television show finishes filming, and departs the area leaving town. This is true for many of the reality television shows that we all see on television these days. It doesn't matter if it's the cast members being arrested and locked up during the off season on "Welcome to Myrtle Manor", a bar owner changing the name of the bar back to the original dull name on "Bar Rescue", or the total failure of a restaurant on "Restaurant Impossible". The latter is exactly what happened in this story.

Chef Robert Irvine attempted his very best in trying to help out the owners (All of whom are pictured above) of the University Grill in Burlington, North Carolina on season three's episode #11 of Restaurant Impossible. However his contributions in attempting to turn around a local restaurant were short lived. Once the show was finished filming, it wasn't long before the restaurant started to back slide once again, and shuttered it's doors for good.

The first indication of failure was the return of the buffet after Chef Robert Irvine had it completely removed from the restaurant. It was only about seven months later that a banner suddenly appeared on the front wall of the restaurant advertising a $6.95 lunch buffet. During the filming of this Restaurant Impossible episode Chef Robert Irvine insisted that the owners stop serving a buffet in their restaurant. He was really concerned about the food temperatures of the buffet food not being properly maintained hot enough, which imposed a health risk to the customers who are dining at the restaurant.

Something worth mentioning is that the reemergence of the lunch buffet could be possibly attributed to the local economy of the area not being capable of sustaining a fancy upscale restaurant in the long term. Chef Robert Irvinve's introduction of brightly colored fresh salmon in place of dark looking frozen salmon was a spectacular idea. Unfortunately according to some of the locals in the area they just couldn't afford to eat such fancy dishes on a daily or even a weekly basis. This may have contributed and just may be the very reason for the University Grill's demise, along with some of the other expensive items on the restaurant's menu.

After the airing of this episode sales were reported to be up for the restaurant. However it wasn't too long before the service was unenthusiastic, and the conditions inside the restaurant followed suit. Shortly after the filming stopped, there never was a parking lot full of customer's car who were all dining inside of the University Grill. A matter of fact many times the parking lot only had a few cars parked in it during what should have been one of the restaurant's most busiest times of the day. Eventually enough was enough, and after a long tailspin the University Grill closed it's doors to customers for the very last time.

This mural is the saddest chapter in this entire restaurant saga

This mural was painted by local students during the restaurant's makeover in 2012
This mural was painted by local students during the restaurant's makeover in 2012
These photos were taken after the mural was painted over in July of 2013. It's very sad that all of that hard work and time that those thoughtful students gave of themselves was destroyed!
These photos were taken after the mural was painted over in July of 2013. It's very sad that all of that hard work and time that those thoughtful students gave of themselves was destroyed!
These photos are what the side of the restaurant looks like now, and were taken in August of 2013. They could have still in some way incorporated the student's artwork with the new pizza restaurant's sign, but it's a little late for that now.
These photos are what the side of the restaurant looks like now, and were taken in August of 2013. They could have still in some way incorporated the student's artwork with the new pizza restaurant's sign, but it's a little late for that now.
This photo was taken of the beautiful bar that chef Irvine had redone inside of Veronas in March of 2014. Today it's basically used as a counter, and for everyone's information the Italian food there is very good!
This photo was taken of the beautiful bar that chef Irvine had redone inside of Veronas in March of 2014. Today it's basically used as a counter, and for everyone's information the Italian food there is very good!

The last word on the streets was the building was being rented out to some folks who wanted to turn it into a pizza joint. Now a restaurant of this type might certainly work out well in this area. I also really wonder if the producers of Restaurant Impossible keep track of the numbers on the show's successes and Failures?

Which way do you think the side of this restaurant looks the best?

  • With the mural that the students painted with their hard work and time.
  • With a coat of plain paint over the red brick exterior.
See results without voting

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13 comments

AlisonRuth profile image

AlisonRuth 3 years ago from USA

Interesting article nice idea on following up on what happens to these places after the filming stops.


LeslieOutlaw profile image

LeslieOutlaw 3 years ago from South Carolina

Very Interesting :) Sad that the great artwork was painted over. I thought it looked great. Thanks for sharing.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 3 years ago

I've wondered about this, too, and I'm glad you've answered one question for us. I wish they'd left the artwork. I just don't get painting over it, just like I don't get painting over graffiti when it is good art and not bad or pornographic. BTW, didn't Richard Hatch of the first "Survivor" end up in prison for awhile. And Whatisname and Kate and their eight didn't do too well, either, or so the tabloids say. Voted up++


bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

I often wonder just how well business´s do when the camera´s stop rolling too. One would hope they do well and maintain high standards and continue to grow but unfortunately I´m sure many loose impetus, revert to former sloppy ways and eventually sink. It´s sad and sometimes out of the owners hands when this happens as I well know after coming out of a business more or less bankrupt when we were hit by a recession. We did everything we could think of to try to keep it going, but sadly when money is short people stop going out to eat and drink and we had a pub.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 3 years ago from the South

Great story! I have always wondered what happens afterwards and wish they'd revisit these places a year down the road. Of course, that would ruin the shows, because I'm sure most of them have this kind of outcome!


OMGirdle profile image

OMGirdle 3 years ago from United States

It's always sad when the efforts of owners can't stop their business from failing. They should have had a marketing strategy to understand the profitability of the local area. From what you are saying, it seems they found a crippled business, gave it potential without understanding the expectation of the people they serve. Your hub projects a lot of emotion.


vkwok profile image

vkwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

This is an engaging and interesting story.


Kieran Gracie 3 years ago

A sad story and, I think, one that is more often the case than the TV reality show producers would like us to know about. TV is, after all, intended to entertain us (the audience) rather than carry out proper turnarounds (for real businesses). I agree with catgypsy that there should be follow-up visits after a year or so - I think that would make quite compelling TV.


TheHoleStory profile image

TheHoleStory 3 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia Author

I've now included the latest round of photographs of what the side of the restaurant looks like now. I totally agree with you Kieran Gracie that this is a sad story, which deserves follow up visits after a year of first being aired on television.


Santano McCalla profile image

Santano McCalla 3 years ago

I heard something similar a while back, but this is the first conclusive and concrete thing I've seen on the topic thus far. Very informative. It's too bad the potential of this restaurant was lost.


TheHoleStory profile image

TheHoleStory 3 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia Author

Here's an update for the 2nd week of September 2013. The parking lot at Verona Italian family restaurant was packed, and the new pizza joint has finally opened it's doors, and had it's grand opening. The only noticeable changes to the inside décor were the vases containing the flowers on the tables were replaced with hot red pepper shakers. Other then that no other visual interior changes were made from when the restaurant was the University Grill. There was a full menu awaiting everyone, and the subs were very good according to some restaurant guest, and given two thumbs up. This type of restaurant just might succeed this time around!


merej99 profile image

merej99 2 years ago

Food service probably has the highest failure rate of all start up, family run businesses. My family had a bar/restaurant; my husband's family has a bar/restaurant (operating nearly 30 years) and my hubby & I have a deli/general store. People need to do their research about the area and the local residents' needs. In the case of University Grill, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. I didn't see the episode that you're citing but I'm sure Chef Robert was trying to improve on the status quo (introducing fresh over frozen). Had the owners thought outside the box and changed their business plan to incorporate the community they may have succeeded. Maybe they could have transitioned from higher end to traditional grille and pizza fare.

Great article! And yes - too bad about the mural. At least you have pictures to keep the art alive. :)


DChance2 profile image

DChance2 2 years ago

Changing the name could have been a big turn off for university students who want to feel a connection with their university.

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