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'Restaurant: Impossible' helps two N.J. victims of Hurricane Sandy

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On last night's Food Network episode of "Restaurant: Impossible," Robert Irvine took his crew to New Jersey in this episode titled “Holiday: Impossible 2.”

Robert visited Ship Bottom, N.J. on Long Beach Island, and had three days to give a new lease on life to the LBI Pancake House and the Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Company, both devastated by the storm, and both pillars of their community. Thanks to Lexus, Robert has not only the $10,000 he normally has, but an extra $40,000 on this special holiday episode.

He first met with Bill and Carole Waldron, owners of the pancake house, who invested their retirement into this restaurant. The restaurant was buried under four feet of salt water and mold that followed was even worse. They worked feverishly for eight months to get the restaurant up and running, but they needed a miracle. When Robert entered the establishment, he could see that only partial renovations had been completed. On the bright side; they were opened, which has not happened to all the devastated businesses in the area.

They described their normal operation, which is primarily breakfasts to families before they go down to the beach. The only time they have a lunch crowd, is when it is raining. When the couple described what the place looked like ten days after the storm, when they were finally allowed to come back in, they were heartbroken. Determined to come back, because they had a mortgage to pay, they worked hard and spent every last dime to get it running again. Bill is 72, and Carole thought he would die doing all the necessary work. Robert watched a service and saw so much heart in the people. The long-time patrons of the place were in tears as they recalled the storm.

Across the street, at the Ship Bottom Firehouse, President Dan English and Chief Wade Bradley told Robert about their operation. They stay viable because they have a meeting room and catering hall within the building. Because it is a volunteer operation, they are responsible for not only fighting fires, but funding the operation as well. As they recalled, the devastation, they could not hold back the tears, as those memories are still so fresh after a year. One of their members Robert “Doc” Gleason had to live at the firehouse because he lost his home.

Robert asked what they needed most of all, their reply was their kitchen that has been losing about $20,000 a month in revenue since deemed unusable and their meeting room, that is furnished by members who send their unwanted furniture to the house.

Robert met with Cheryl and Lynn his designers, and Tom, his builder to challenge them to do the impossible. They went to the firehouse and after the firefighters helped remove everything from their meeting room, Robert sent them downstairs to get ready for their surprise.

When the pancake house was completely empty, Carole was fearful that they were back to square one, but Robert assured her that they would be back in business better than ever. Robert then decided that once the kitchen in the firehouse was up and running, he was going to throw a party for the first-responders who give of themselves every day. Robert asked his friend and fellow chef, Michael Chiarello to come and cook for the party.

As the renovations continued, the couple recalled how the storm affected them, while the fire fighters also recalled how devastated the people were, as they worked around the clock for days assisting those stranded by the hurricane. As they rescued more and more people, they came across more who needed their assistance. They all pray that they never have to deal with another situation of such magnitude.

Robert then tried to find a way to spark more lunchtime sales for the restaurant. They went directly to the people at the beach to survey them. So with Robert’s help, they drew up a take-out lunch menu, that could be delivered right to the beach goers.

When the firefighters saw their finished kitchen, with all the new appliances and equipment, they were astounded. However, their lounge was not ready yet, so that was another surprise awaiting them. Michael Chiarello arrived just in time to prepare a feast for them using the new kitchen.

Robert had the chefs from the restaurant prepare lunch bags for the beach goers. As they gave them out, the people were thrilled, and he knows that their business will boom because of this.

Michael and his sous chef prepared a feast for these awesome people, who are only used to be on the giving end, certainly not the receiving end. Their joy was overwhelming. Their room was now a comfortable place to live. The fireman’s prayer was now prominently displayed upon the wall forever, not just on a plate. But Robert could not stay long for the celebration, as he had to return to the restaurant.

At the LBI Pancake House, the couple were outside as Robert was ready to take them inside. They were ecstatic at the new interior. The transformation was awesome. The inspirational writings on the wall were transformed into lovely artwork. As the eager customers entered the place, they were thrilled with the interior and were happy to once again have their favorite place back. The lunch deliveries were also a huge hit.

Thanks to Robert and his crew of "Restaurant: Impossible," these victims of Hurricane Sandy can get on with their lives.

At the end of each show, Robert tells viewers to check his link to see how the restaurant is doing since his visit. If you liked what you read, please Subscribe, and you will never miss another post from this Television Examiner. Thanks!

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