Fruita restaurant goes from ‘slop’ to ‘fantastic’

True to his reputation, “Restaurant: Impossible” host and chef Robert Irvine minced no words from the minute he stepped inside Sullivan’s Grill in Fruita.

“What is it supposed to be?” he asked of the restaurant with Irish-themed decor but a Mexican-dominated menu.

It got much worse after he inspected and tasted the food.

The sharp-tongued television celebrity’s transformation of owner Ginny Sullivan’s eatery was featured in an hourlong episode that aired Wednesday night on Food Network.

Irvine and television camera crews spent $10,000 and two days in Fruita in October in an effort to remake Sullivan’s Grill, a restaurant that was on the brink of closing.

The show highlighted multiple reasons for the struggles: Sullivan drowning in debt totaling nearly a half-million dollars, customers who lingered for hours while only buying $1.35 cups of coffee and poor food. Irvine blasted everything from canned green beans and greasy fish to multiple dishes topped by watery green chile. At one point, he dumped a chile-covered burrito off a plate and onto the table and dissected it.

“It looks like slop. It tastes like slop. It’s one mess on top of another mess,” he said, adding that the food “isn’t fit for dogs.”

The primary reason Food Network selected Sullivan’s Grill, however, was the fact that Sullivan’s husband, Jesse, committed suicide last summer.

Irvine clashed for part of the show with Sullivan Grill’s cook, Rose Von Eaton, who blamed a lack of resources for the bad food. Halfway through the remodeling of the restaurant, Von Eaton became ill and quit, leaving Sullivan’s Grill scrambling to find a replacement chef.

Ultimately, the restaurant reopened with new decor and a new southwest-inspired menu. Five hours before the grand reopening, Irvine was teaching new chef Scott Campbell how to make a revamped pork green chile.

“We took a miserable restaurant and turned it into a fun and fantastic one,” Irvine said.

“Restaurant: Impossible” officials have said that only one of the roughly 25 restaurants assisted by the show in its two seasons has closed.

Sullivan is scheduled to hold a news conference at 2:30 this afternoon at the restaurant, 229 E. Aspen Ave., to discuss the show.


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