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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Food Network: Send us your dying restaurants

By Tim Carman
espn zone_opt.jpg Irvine has arrived too late to save the ESPN Zone. (Nikki Kahn for The Washington Post)

Robert Irvine, the chef whose resume packed more whoppers than a traveling salesmen convention, continues his rehab stint with the apparently benevolent Food Network series called Restaurant: Impossible. The show, in which Irvine rehabs struggling restaurants on the cheap, debuts Jan. 19 on the cable channel, but producers are already on the prowl for next season's hapless eateries.

Justin Leonard, an associate producer for the show, sent out a casting call yesterday for D.C. restaurants worthy of Irvine's largesse. The chef and a design team will spend two days and $10,000 to makeover the failing restaurant.

So what qualifies as such?

During a quick phone conversation, Leonard listed a few qualities that could land a restaurant on the program: Is the menu still stuck in the '70s? Is the decor hopelessly clinging to the '80s? Are the front and back of the houses woefully mismanaged? If so, Irvine might be able to help.

But I was curious about one thing: Does Irvine just go in, flex his considerable muscles for the cameras, make over the place, and then split to let the restaurant flounder on its own devices once again? Or is there follow-up? And have the season one restaurants seen any lasting benefit from this process? Or are they just props in Irvine's public image makeover? (OK, I didn't actually ask the last question, but I did pose the other two.)

"I don't know," answers Leonard. "I'm not involved in the process. I wouldn't be able to tell you the answer."

I'm betting there are no promises once your business is "cast" in the featured role in "Restaurant: Impossible." Still, if you know some candidates, you might want to tell the owner to fill out this online application. The publicity alone could be worth the trouble and public humiliation that are sure to come.

So, come on, let's start the guessing game now: Who would you put on the list?

By Tim Carman  | January 5, 2011; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Chefs, Media  | Tags:  Tim Carman  
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The Palm

Posted by: MStreet1 | January 5, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Isn't this the same concept as Gordon Ramsay's program 'Kitchen Nightmares' on Fox? Unless you are simply redoing the decor with paint, seating and lighting I don't know that 2 days and $10K are really going to do much to improve a dismal restaurant. Similar to weight loss, if it took you 5 years to put on an extra 40 pounds you are not going to drop it in 30 days.

Posted by: AlligatorArms | January 5, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

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Luna Grill

Posted by: sigmagrrl | January 5, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

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