Hospitality management student takes part in 'Restaurant Impossible' renovation

As a hospitality management major, Jacquelyn Holt of Oil City was already familiar with the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible” when she saw a posting on Facebook looking for volunteers. 

            The show, on which celebrity chef Robert Irvine remakes a struggling restaurant – from menu items to décor -- in two days with $10,000, would be filming an episode in Titusville, near her hometown, the following week.

            She signed up right away and spent the night of June 18 working from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. as one of 60 volunteers recruited for the project to make over El Bistro.

            “They taught us how to putty, and we had to do an entire wall – it took hours,” Holt said. While on the set, she took the opportunity to examine Irvine’s plans for the restaurant and sneak a peek into the kitchen.

            A rainstorm had her a bit concerned that she might not be looking her best if this part were shown on television. Later, the storm would cut off the electricity, hampering progress, but giving her time to visit with her fellow volunteers.

            She said that Irvine was not on the set while she was there, but she heard the chef with the tough-guy image while she was checking in with coordinators.

            “I heard him yelling,” she said. “He was definitely directing people.”

            The experience was a glimpse at the big time for the hospitality management student. “It definitely helped me see the construction side of having a business,” she said.

Holt headed back to Bradford early June 19 to attend classes, but plans to return to the restaurant at some point.

 “I will eat there in the future and remember putting putty on the wall,” she said, laughing.