Owner of Sullivan’s Grill planning to sell despite TV makeover

From left, owner Ginny Sullivan, Assistant Manager Season Buniger and Chef Scott Campbell laugh and cry about the ordeal of putting the staff of Sullivan’s Grill in Fruita through the 48-hour ordeal of the television show “Restaurant Impossible.”



Three months after Sullivan’s Grill received a makeover courtesy of “Restaurant: Impossible,” the Fruita restaurant has been listed for sale.

The Food Network television show changed the interior design and the menu of Sullivan’s Grill during a two-day span in early October, and the show’s $10,000 investment spurred a good month of revenue. Owner Ginny Sullivan said October sales were $42,000, one of the restaurant’s best months. November and December weren’t quite as good, but the restaurant is still doing better than it was before the makeover.

However, she said she believes the new look, new menu offerings and publicity surrounding the business should help a new owner be successful.

One of the reasons she sought help from “Restaurant: Impossible,” though, is why she must sell her restaurant: She remains a bit overwhelmed as a single mother trying to raise two teenagers and run the restaurant.

Sullivan said Thursday, one day after the episode featuring Sullivan’s Grill aired on Food Network, she can’t continue to do both, so it’s time to part ways with the restaurant at 229 E. Aspen Ave.

Sullivan and her staff breathed a sigh of relief after watching “Restaurant: Impossible” Wednesday night. None of them were offered a sneak peek of the show before it aired.

“I wouldn’t want to have to go through that again,” Sullivan said Thursday about some of the hard-nosed criticism dispensed by the show’s celebrity chef, Robert Irvine.

Overall, Sullivan said she was pleased with the way the show turned out. Despite Irvine’s reputation for tearing apart restaurant owners’ menus and decor, she felt he went a little easier on her than he had on past participants. Ginny’s husband, Jesse, had committed suicide, and she was raising her children and running the restaurant.

“He yelled quite a bit, but I really feel like he had a hard time being mean to me,” Sullivan said.

She said she wasn’t affected much by the criticism because she expected it, and she knew a makeover of the menu and the dining area would spruce up her business.

Business has been steady, Sullivan said, even Thursday, as friends and curious diners stopped by to talk about the show they had watched the night before.

Some tidbits that didn’t show up in the final cut included a meal that Irvine threw at workers and tossed onto the kitchen floor. Workers said they were prohibited from cleaning up the mess from the floor or off themselves. At another point during the filming, Sullivan lamented she did not have enough resources to create some dishes, and Irvine appeared to find a blender and use it to prepare food.

“I’ve never seen that blender before, and I’ve never seen it since (they stopped filming),” Sullivan said with a laugh. “I think they just went and bought it at the thrift store.”

And one customer who ordered a smothered burrito that Irvine dumped onto a table to dissect was bummed because she had wanted to eat it, Sullivan said. The cameras didn’t pick it up, but the diner across the table from that customer did stick her fork into the burrito and ate some of it.

Another aspect that surprised the show’s producers was the number of volunteers who showed up to gut the restaurant, paint and provide other services during the two-day span.

“They’d never seen that before,” Sullivan said. “They were just, like, in awe that they had to turn so many volunteers away. That says something about why we live here in Fruita.”


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