Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Restaurant Makeover: Extreme Filth Edition

I love makeover shows. Whether they're making over people, houses or restaurants, I live for before and after photos. I finally caught Restaurant Makeover last night and based on this one episode, it's television gold. The episode summary is as follows:
Sandy, the owner of The Grapefruit Moon, is a single mother of three who has been struggling to keep things afloat. She s managed to keep her diner running for six years despite the neglect of much-needed repairs and renovations. Now her restaurant is falling apart. Restaurant Makeover's chef and designer have taken up the challenge to clean and rebuild the restaurant.
This really does not do justice to the filth, drama and assholery that I saw last night.

The gist is this: the owner of Grapefruit Moon contacted Food Network to be on Restaurant Makeover. She contributed $15,000 to the makeover and Food Network matched it. A designer came in and redid the entire restaurant and a cook came in to revamp the menu. The restaurant was extremely dirty and the entire place was in disrepair. Now, when I say extremely dirty, I mean dozens of roaches scrurrying on the wall*. When I say disrepair, I mean holes in the floor and the ceiling and duct tape holding the counter together.

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The owner and the "chef" (I use that term loosely; cracked out line cook is probably more accurate) threw major attitude throughout the entire show and were unhappy with the results. The designer and the cook were pissed and repeatedly used the phrase "wasting my time".

The show ended with a postscript stating that the owner of the restaurant sold the new chairs, painted the walls black and complained to the media:
"So I get a call from a producer asking if I planned on doing any renovations," says Sandy Moon, busy sliding breakfast quesadillas onto plates on a hectic Sunday afternoon at Grapefruit Moon, the cozy restaurant at Bathurst and Follis she's owned for more than six years. "I had considered it before but couldn't afford it." Moon relays her story with surprising calm for someone who agreed to let her restaurant be made over for reality TV, especially for someone who isn't thrilled with the results, which include some irreversible changes to the restaurant's former charm. But the floor was falling apart, and the restaurant was in "disrepair," and Moon thought it would be nice to have a new kitchen."
I can kind of understand why she wouldn't be happy with the results. Beforehand the place looked more like a quirky working class neighborhood diner, and afterwards it looked much more yuppiefied and trendy. The color scheme was bright white and yellow, and I can't help but wonder if that was a deliberate "screw you" from the designer, who was appalled by the dirtiness of the restaurant. Indeed, one of the first things that the owner said upon seeing the renovation was "Oh, it's going to get so dirty!" and of course, she later painted the walls black. I can excuse crappy ambience or things being a little old or run-down, but the only proper thing to do when your dirtiness is exposed on national television is to hang your head in shame.

If she was unhappy with the design, she had every right to change it back, but kvetching to the local media about how Food Network screwed you out of some plants (see the article linked above) is not going to help your cause. Or is it? The episode postscript said that the restaurant has a packed house every night.

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Ms. Moon, kvetching all the way to the bank

A quick Google search returns a couple of restaurant reviews and other people freaking out about last night's episode.


*If anyone has a roach screenshot from this episode, please send it over. That was seriously nasty.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

personally i dont give a flying rats ass how sandy felt about what they did to her nasty ass hole in the wall restaurant. i think she should stop complaining and start apologizing to everyone who ever ate from that roach infested piece of crap. she should be ashamed and should hide her face. i mean if this what her work place looks like i wonder what her house looks like. i think her license should be revoked and she should be fined and never allowed to serve people food again. if i was in charge of that show the second i saw that filth i would have told my people to pack your bags, we are leaving. Becuase i don't see the point of investing 15 thousand dollars in this nasty ass, roach infested, looked like it aint been cleaned ever, biohazard, stink, piece of crap. Becuase honestly you can slap a fresh coat of paint on it, but if the owner is nasty it's always gonna be nasty; it is just a matter of time.

DannyKaye said...

This place would have been CLOSED, FOREVER, in my city - one Health Dept inspection would have equalled permanent death, Period. Sandy should kiss the feet of the Makeover crew !!!!!!!!!!!!

Concerned Foodie said...

Sandy is an ungrateful woman, who knows NOTHING about running a restaurant...only how to breed cockroaches. I wouldn't eat there no matter how much the establishment was made over! An establishment is a direct reflection of the person running it and Sandy is filthy, dirty and needs to be made over herself, more than that restaurant! Someone needs to do that community a favor and revoke that lady's license!!
Where is the health department in toronto, when was the last time this dump was inspected? It was horrific, who could eat a meal in such filthy surroundings. I'm still getting the shivers. Cockeroaches living merrily in the hollow wall of the counter, how could she not take care of something as obvious as that? The burned crap in the fryalator... she never cleans it.... hell then you'd have to throw out the old grease and buy new stuff. You know somefolks don't know what "Good food is" much less where it has to be prepared!!
So this slob serves her slob clientle and everyone is happy
Go figure!

Anonymous said...

That restaurant was freaking nasty. What a crap hole. How embarrasing for that woman to not even be embarrased. I agree, where the hell are the Health Inspectors in that town?

Anonymous said...

my family has owned a restaurant for 9 years now...and i personally would be GRATEFUL if someone to the time to matched my money to renovate our business...and not just that but did the work for me.. No one put a gun to that lady's head and forced her to sign the contract!! How dare she appear sooo ungrateful. All the freaken work they had to do to make her place an actual functioning, SAFE, and C L E A N restaurant, and then has the audacity to complain to a newspaper saying that THEY looked for her because they wanted a sob story, COME ON lady, please, like a big network like them are going to need to "hunt" for a story, because there are not business owners out there who desperately want a makeover and don't write them on a daily basis pleading to get them to work on there business...See people now a days surprise me more and more. Selfish and ungrateful...

Anonymous said...

My family has owned a restaurant for 9 years now...and i personally would be GRATEFUL if someone took the time to matched my money to renovate our business, and not just that but did the work for me, not to mention so so very embarrased if my restaurat appeared as disgusting as hers did, and to actually wish it back to the way it was, Who in god's name would want to eat there, why? why? w h y??? why would she want it to be as gross as it was. How?? How?? how can she even think of serving her customers in such filth, how unsanitary, how evil.. The health department needs to give this lady a pamphlet ..... No one put a gun to that lady's head and forced her to sign the contract!! How dare she appear sooo ungrateful. All the freaken work they had to do to make her place an actual functioning, SAFE, and C L E A N restaurant, and then has the audacity to complain to a newspaper saying that THEY looked for her because they wanted a sob story, COME ON lady, please, like a big network like them are going to need to "hunt" for a story, because there are not business owners out there who desperately want a makeover and don't write them on a daily basis pleading to get them to work on there business...See people now a days surprise me more and more. Selfish and U N G R A T E F U L...
( sorry, for the repeat, had to make a few corrections, and kind of got carried away again, i just can't get over her ungratefulness, as soon as the program was over, i ran to my sisters room and told her about my disbelief...)

Jeff said...

you are all forgetting that the place caters to hippie vegans, who supposedly continue to pack the place. Vegans wouldn't know a good meal if it bit them in the face. OF course if they really WERE packing the place then why is the owner broke ? Regardless, you can always change paint or chairs, the massive cleaning and infrastructure work that was done was obviously a major effort.
The owner is a complete idiot with her "where did the money go" and the cook is just some punk burnout who will make minimum wage his whole life.
Anyway, anyone who eats at a Canadian hippie vegatarian diner knows crap about good food anyway.

Anonymous said...

The Makeover team made this restaurant from a rat's nest to something that Toronto could be proud of. What an ungrateful witch! She was right about something - she doesn't know how to manage a restaurant! After watching the program, the hope the people of Toronto take their business elsewhere! It may be clean now, but wait a couple of weeks and Sandy's management style will have the whole place a disgusting sewer just like before!

Anonymous said...

The Health Department should inspect your business on a regular basis and Children's Aid should check out your living quarters - if your business looks this bad, I can only imagine what your home looks like.

Anonymous said...

I admit that the place was dirty and disgusting, but there is no need to involve this woman's personal life in your rants. You do not know her.

Anonymous said...

I love eating at dumps like this. Cockroaches just add to the beauty of this lovely restaurant.

jackieoasis said...

I guess I'm a little late-in-coming here, but I just saw this episode for the first time and wanted to weigh in. Yes, the restaurant was disgustingly filthy, but I was even more put off by the sanctimonious attitudes of the designer and the chef. OK, so the dude working the grill and fryer at this restaurant is not a bona fide chef (nor does he want to be), but that doesn't give this haughty asshole of a "chef" license to roll his eyes and act all put-out. And then he said something about how trying to teach this kid something is "wasting [his] time"! Newsflash to chef: THIS IS YOUR JOB!! And I'm willing to bet you're being paid handsomely for it. And as for the designer, well, there didn't appear to be anything wrong with the end result, except that it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the owner's original vibe -- low-key, comfortable, shabby, a place you can slouch in (if you want). The "new and improved" Grapefruit Moon looks like a place you have to sit up straight in and maybe wear some nicer clothes to. I don't blame the owner for being unhappy -- her restaurant is an extention of her personality and this makeover is tantamount to saying "You need to change your entire personality." I think the mark of a good interior designer is working with clients to create a space they can be comfortable in. This designer just did what SHE wanted and then complained when the owner wasn't crazy about her vision. Perhaps the owner could have shown a bit more gratitude for all the improvements that WERE made, but I think what we saw on the show was her being shocked by the designer's inability to capture even a tiny bit of the essence of her former cafe.

Chris said...

jackieoasis, all the owner needs to do to give the renovated restaruant a throwback feeling is letting those cockroaches back in, which I have no doubt they have started nesting in already.

she's a sick lady keeping a place like that open. may have spent 14g's on it, but a customer with a cockroach in his curry chicken will cost you your business. be grateful, bitch.

joviegirl2 said...

We saw the aring of this restaurant make-over, this May. Apparently this episode had aired a couple of time. I can see both sides of the issue. He side keeping it low-key, but the restaurant was a in a disgraceful mess. Pretaining to health issues. I presume, her restaurant is still open. I do hope the restaurant licening department in Toronto, has contated her.
These kind of restaurants reflect negative reponses from the public, which of whom, are potental customers. And in the end, could jeopardize the restaurnat industery. We are restaurant owners, and was amazed when she said, "the place is going to get so dirty".

tmp00 said...

"and was amazed when she said, "the place is going to get so dirty".

I just saw this episode and that was the quote that stood out for me the most- totally hilarious. Like the place wasn't a pest-hole before. Is it still vegan if there are roaches in the food?

Does Toronto HAVE health inspectors? If that restaurant was in Los Angeles it would have been closed so fast her head would spin.

Complaining to the press that they replaced your non-restaurant stove with another non-restaurant stove is bogus- what was she expecting? $15k in new Viking equipment that she'll never clean? They needed to spend that on the HazMat removal alone..

Disgusted said...

That "Grapefruit Moon" episode was revolting enough to make me swear off restaurant eating for some time to come. The nasty dust on the trash "collectibles," hovering overhead, the ducktape holding the customer counter together, the repulsive grease and fat, thickly molding under the grill, the repugnant burned-on, plastered-on, swimming grease in the catchpan, and the clincher, that nest of content, propagating roachs, was utterly disgusting! And post-revovation, her initial reaction as to how difficult it will be to keep clean, then painting the walls black was appalling! .. My bet is that it's only a matter of days, maybe a month before it's well on it's way to returning to its former noxious state. For an owner to tolerate cooking and serving food in such a toxic establishment, then complaining about the color scheme when the renovated restaurant is revealed, is egregious. Perhaps the owner should rename the establishment, the "Hazardous Waste Moon." restaurant.

dyee276750 said...

For 30k not much has changed, I ate at GM a couple of mths ago. Many moons ago it was the Victory Cafe which moved to Mirvish Village. The old VC was also equally grungy and owner just as surly, the VC was run by a cranky Irish man ala van morrisson in a need of a personality reno. Anyways, the saturday afternoon, Grapefruit was packed and full of university grad students and post-grade annexer's w/kids, dance music was blaring and it was noisy, the fries were expensive and greasy, it took me back instantly to my college days 'cept for my kids and the cost of the food. I had seen and read about the makeover and was curious about it and checked it out and frankly other than than the music, it was still as grimy and grungy as ever 'cept with the additional children's toys and book. The bathroom had not changed since the Victory, it's still tiny and filthy as ever. The place was gross and i left with a headache and indigestion and I don't think I will go back. I guess what makes the place popular is its location and it's nostalgic appeal to those who want the college vibe but can't stomach going to a Futures or uni pub bar on bloor.

momo said...

i just saw the episode. that was the grossest thing ive ever seen. Is sandy crazy? Is the whol neighborhood nuts! EWWWWWWW!

Stef C said...

Some friends and I had dinner there in June 2006, not knowing that it had been on Restaurant Makeover. Honestly, it would have been difficult to see that it had had a reno done at all. The chairs were rickety, the countertop was peeling, and it just looked old, old, old. The service was pretty good, but my wife's food was a bit too greasy even for my liking, and neither of us was that impressed to make a second trip since then.

No, Grapefruit Moon is not vegan. What they specialize in is local stuff, as much as possible: organic beef from local farmers and butchers, organic greens and produce from Ontario, bread and bakings from local bakeries, and beers and wines from small Ontario breweries and wineries. They dropped Creemore from their beerlist when Molson's purchased the brewer, eventhough the parent company operates it at a very long arm's length.
It's a neat concept to have as local as possible products, keeping in line with the current trend of minimizing your impact on the environment by having products in your restaurant that aren't trucked over from all over the world.

As for Toronto having health inspectors: yes, they do, but they have anywhere from a one-week to a three-month backlog of work at any given time. I've been told this by a regular customer of mine who works at Toronto Public Health.
I wasn't able to find anything online about the backlog except for an article at
http://www.crfa.ca/news/2006/crfa_urges_toronto_to_adopt_safety_training_standards.asp
that refers to a possible backlog.
Do you really think they would look over some dinky little place like Grapefruit Moon? No, not if they have to after McDonald's or Second Cup, who have had certain locations on probation in Toronto because their cleanliness was at issue.
(The Second Cup in question closed earlier this summer; the McDonald's is still there, and I'm sure the corp came down hard on the franchisee for the standards getting so out of hand.)


That said, I haven't been back to Grapefruit Moon in over a year and a half. It's a ten minute walk away from my place, but so is Café Brasiliano and Musa Café, both at Dundas and Euclid. Both places have incredible food and amazing prices; the beer and wine menu at Musa is pretty good, and the coffee at Brasiliano is second to none in the city of Toronto. I can't say that much about Grapefruit Moon. Hopefully I'll be able to catch the episode on the Food Network, but by the sounds of it it's been pulled off the re-runs schedule.

Skippy said...

This episode re-aired on July 11, 2008, and was the first time that my wife and I had seen it.

It seemed to us that that no one came off looking very good from this episode. Yes, the restaurant looked seriously nasty, and Sandy seemed ungrateful (where did your money go? lets see, how about the infrastructure that prevents that ceiling from falling on your head??????). Yes, her cook appeared to need an attitude adjustment. But the designer and the chef both clearly looked down on Sandy from the word "go". Sure, they are both hard-working and highly-trained professionals, and sure, Sandy asked for their opinions by signing up for the show. Even so, I found their attitudes superior and mocking. They clearly did not think much of anyone who did not have their level of training. That would not encourage me to hire either one of them.

To be honest, it may have been a chicken-and-egg thing: were the designer and chef acting like pricks because Sandy was being one, or the other way around? Hard to say, but I was not impressed with any of the personalities on that episode. I think I would find it hard to work with any of them.

Maybe Sandy was using the show to get $30,000 worth of expensive infrastructure repairs that she would never have been able to afford otherwise. Who knows.

As for public health inspections, Toronto does have a system, thank you very much, and a very visible one at that. Its called DineSafe, and anyone who eats in Toronto is familiar with it. Results are posted in a restaurant's window with a green, yellow, or red sticker. Results are also posted online.

Grapefruit Moon is mandated to have a minimum of two inspections per year by the City of Toronto. They have had five inspections since 2006 (that's as far back as the City's website goes), and while there were some problems this year, it has generally passed. You can see the results for yourself at: http://app.toronto.ca/food2/DineSafeMain. Search under the restaurant's name.

Thought you'd find that interesting!

Skippy

Bondean said...

I'm a little behind in this argument, but I just found your site and am revolted by some of the personal attack on Sandy Moon.

You should know that "reality" telelvision is not, in fact, reality - far from it. It is carefully edited to make it look more exciting, truth be damned.

I have friends who work in the television industry, "reality" television specifically. They've regaled me with tales of chicanery and falsehoods that go on behind the scenes. I now watch any episode of "reality" television, from renovation to makeover shows, with a grain of salt. Don't believe everything you see.

On that note, I really think you should all read this amazing article on Restaurant Makeover before you criticize and judge:

http://torontoist.com/2009/01/restaurant_makeover_a_villain_revis.php#more

JaTasha said...

There is this restaurant in Lawrencville, GA that is so wonderfully fantastic that it needs recognition. So far I think its been opened for a year and few months and making its way to hopefully many years to come. I ate at this place last month and found the food to be so great and fresh, the entertainment so enjoyable and the venue just breath taking I wanted it to be shared with the world.

Its an older place that has been transformed into one mans dream. I spoke to the owner and the warmth I felt and invitation back to the place after enjoying such great meal was just wonderful. This owner has such great dreams and a want to just make people feel good and happy about being out and enjoying their time that I felt he should be helped with this dream.

I think that an extreme restaurant makeover should be given to this restaurant and allowing it to be the grandest most best restaurant in Lawrenceville, GA. Reason being is because this owner is one of not many who finally opened a restaurant not for money but the smiles and enjoyment of others enjoying Cafe Bleu’s food, and that deserves reconignition and praise. I hope you feel the same

JaTasha said...

There is this restaurant in Lawrenceville, GA that is so wonderfully fantastic that it needs recognition. So far I think it’s been opened for a year and few months and making its way to hopefully many years to come. I ate at this place last month and found the food to be so great and fresh, the entertainment so enjoyable and the venue just breathe taking I wanted it to be shared with the world.

It’s an older place that has been transformed into one mans dream. I spoke to the owner and the warmth I felt and invitation back to the place after enjoying such great meal was just wonderful. This owner has such great dreams and a want to just make people feel good and happy about being out and enjoying their time that I felt he should be helped with this dream.

I think that an extreme restaurant makeover should be given to this restaurant and allowing it to be the grandest most best restaurant in Lawrenceville, GA. Reason being is because this owner is one of not many who finally opened a restaurant not for money but the smiles and enjoyment of others enjoying Cafe Bleu’s food, and that deserves recon ignition and praise. I hope you feel the same

Stef said...

PLEASE FUCK OFF. This has nothing to do with what I was commenting about.

Stef said...

PLEASE FUCK OFF. What the hell does this restaurant in Georgia have to do with some little hole in Toronto?

Gorillamydreamz said...

This is television and the majority of the mess and dirt were "staged". When the producers failed to take any of the owner's needs into account, they were peeved she didn't act all happy and giggly at their shoddy workmanship. So they edited it using only her negative responses to make her look like a bitch.

Please remember what you watch on TV is designed to keep you watching and the drama of conflict keeps you peeled to the screen. This reno wasn't built to function, it was built to look good on television people.

I have been to the restaurant. It is clean, serves excellent food, passes health and cleanliness inspections at least twice a year and the owner is a sweetheart who loves her customers and her children.

Allowing yourself to be fooled by a fake TV show into ranting about someone you don't know is naive. Next time you want to judge, get off the couch, fly to Toronto and check your facts.

Restaurant Makeover have ruined far more restaurants than they've "saved".

ac cooksux said...

Armchair Cook....you're an IDIOT! i bet you're one of those people who watch daytime soaps and REALLY believe that the characters are real! I'm sure you're smarter than that. Before you critique someone or something, see and experience it for yourself! don't just write about it because you saw it on tv. i bet you think big foot is real too.....

Lilystar said...

I go to the Grapefruit Moon on a fairly regular basis. The place is always packed and I've found the food and service to be consistently great. They support local products and offer good quality food at a reasonable price.

Kar said...

Okay "Armchair". First of all, you're not even in CANADA let alone TORONTO. So I don't understand how you can base all these rude comments solely on assumptions. You claim you're in your 20's but every word you type sounds as foolish as a 10 year old's. You do realize that this is a TV SHOW. More than half the crap they air is STAGED. They show viewers (as dumb as you, clearly) what they want to see. It's called business.

AND EVERY OTHER COMMENTER THAT'S CRITICIZING SANDY MOON:

none of you know her personally or have even SET FOOT inside her restaurant so you guys can shut your mouths. The reason there's "filth" is because Restaurant Makeover has to portray themselves as SUPERHEROES that have fallen from the sky as saviors to the failing restaurant industry.

You silly people are brainwashed by everything the media airs on TV. Gullibe, gullible gullible.. what a shame.

kkkkk said...

i am her daughter and i find ALL OF THESE COMMENTS VERY VERY RUDE yes i know that i am only 11 but you guys should totally SHUT UP!!!!!!!! if you think that this place is a disgrace come here ant tell us what you think you will probably get a hand to the face. Just Sayin......

-Roxyy Moon

Stef said...

Sure you are. And I am the King of Siam.

omfghardware said...

Seven years after this happened Grapefruit Moon is a thriving, vital member of the community, while Restaurant makeover has gone to that great scrapheap of reality tv shows and our blogger hasn't posted in five years.
As a local supplier of hard goods I was indirectly involved in this make over and a number of others. On this side of the camera the producers tried hard to create tension, most often by pairing designers and chefs that were as opposite to the owners as possible. I spoke with many of the contractors and workers who could only shake their heads at what they were asked to do; quite a number of them were glad to get these jobs done as soon as possible and get away from "the horrorshow."
I'm glad for those of you who enjoyed the episode(s), but Sandy and a number of other owners had their nicer sides left of the cutting room floor, it just doesn't make for 'good tv'.
For the record, Grapefruit Moon is the ONLY restaurant that I was 'involved' with that is still in business. All in all it wasn't a bad show, I did watch a number of episodes, especially to see how they ended up after editing versus the experiences I witnessed.
And to The King of Siam:
Your highness,
I can vouch for the validity of the person who claims to be Sandy's daughter. She is rather new to the interwebs and has yet to learn the finer points of trolls and lulz (or anonymity).