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'Restaurant: Impossible' helps Marie’s at Ummat Café in Atlanta

Robert Irvine host of Restaurant: Impossible
Robert Irvine host of Restaurant: Impossible
Photo by Aaron Davidson

On Wednesday’s Food Network episode of "Restaurant: Impossible," Robert Irvine went to Atlanta, Ga., to help save Marie’s at the Ummat Cafe on this episode titled, “Culture Clash.” With only two days and $10,000, will he be able to accomplish the impossible?

Robert met with husband and wife, Jaliwa Owuo and Mikell Hagood, owners of the restaurant, who were caterers prior to owning the restaurant. It has been over a year, and the place is failing. They hoped this would be something they could leave to their children, but the children do not want to work with Jaliwa, who they believe is a micro-manager.

The family is Muslim, and there is a mosque right next to the café. As Robert enters the restaurant, he sees that it could surely use some help. He asked who Marie was, and Jaliwa stated it was her mother, who she wants to honor. Their customers are mainly from the mosque, but they hoped to attract people from the surrounding area. The menu is not Muslim based; they do soul food, chicken wings and typical Southern food. Jaliwa told Robert a month to the day after they purchased the restaurant, their house burned down, a month after that, their nephew passed away at 29.

Robert observed a service, and the kitchen was in chaos. People waited too long for food. Robert ordered several items from the menu, and none were very good, and he told the couple.

Robert then went next door to the mosque to find guidance. He met with Imam Mansoor Sabree, who he looked to for inspiration as to how to design the restaurant and menu. He told him no pork products are allowed, and Halal meats, those slaughtered properly and blessed should be featured.

They emptied the restaurant, but had to bring everything back through the place because the storage unit was out the back of the restaurant. Tom was annoyed with Taniya because they could be working instead of doing things twice.

Robert took the five children into the mosque to speak with them alone. When he asked them if their mother bought this place for them, they all laughed, because they know differently. They told Robert the reason they did not want to work there was because of the way she talks to people. He had them write down what their mother was like before the restaurant, then on another color card, what she is like now. After that he called Jaliwa in to see what was written on the cards. Before the restaurant, she was loving and patient, now she can be mean, demanding and a micro-manager.

On the second day, the floor was completed, and Taniya and Tom were working well together. Robert met with Jaliwa, and she praised him for the exercise he did for her family. She then talked to her children and told each one how much she loved them and made peace with them.

In the kitchen, Robert taught Jaliwa and her son how to cook different food. They took food to the local YMCA and spoke to anyone who would listen. They gave them samples of the food and invited them to try the restaurant.

They were two and a half hours late for the opening, but when the couple saw the transformation, it was a life-changing experience. Their faces were enough to tell how awesome it was. When the children came in, they were flabbergasted. The customers loved the food, and the beautiful new restaurant. Jaliwa was relaxed and not in the kitchen shouting orders. She was in the restaurant greeting and talking with her customers, thanks to Robert and his crew of "Restaurant: Impossible."

At the end of each show, Robert tells viewers to check this link to see how the restaurant is doing since his visit.

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