In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Robert Irvine visits Hoffman's Bistro and Patisserie in Santa Cruz, California.
Hoffman's Bistro and Patisserie was owned by Ed and his wife June.
Before owning the restaurant they ran a very successful bakery in the city.
Ed is considered to be one of the best bakers on the West Coast.
Ten years ago, they decided to move to California because their children went to school there and they wanted to be nearby.
They decided to open a restaurant and initially business was good.
But three years ago the economy crashed and the business started going downhill.
They are currently losing $20,000 monthly, are in $2million of debt and are weeks away from closure.
Their children Adam and Marie were asked to the restaurant to help out their parents.
Ed then transferred ownership of the restaurant to Adam and this has caused issues in the family and they are constantly arguing.
Adam wants to make changes and has been asking to add a bar for 5 years but his parents are resistant to his ideas for the restaurant.
Robert arrives and finds the dining room to be mundane, old and stale.
He discovers that a problem the restaurant has is the lack of a clear identity, is Hoffman's a restaurant or a bakery?
Robert meets the owners for a chat to find out more about the restaurant.
They leased the building for $500,000 by mortgaging their home for $300,000.
They also borrowed from credit cards and high interest loans for the remaining $200,000.
Adam and Marie also put $100,000 each into the business and Adam has had to sell his home recently.
The family combined is currently in around $2 million of debt.
Robert tells the family that he has never been to a restaurant in so much debt as theirs.
Robert wants to see a service so that he can find out the issues at the restaurant.
The customers aren’t happy with the food and wants to try it for himself to find out what the problems are with the food.
Robert orders a number of dishes and upon receiving his food he thinks the presentation looks good.
He isn't impressed with the taste due to the lack of seasoning particularly the meatloaf he tries.
When Robert is finished he goes into the kitchen to speak to the cooks and it is clear that he is frustrated by the food.
He tells both the day and night cook that he would fire them for cooking food that bland.
Robert talks with the owners and tells Adam that it is his responsibility to make sure the food coming out the kitchen is the best it can be.
He speaks with Ed who tells Robert he is a famed baker and the bakery is currently taking up much of the space of the restaurant.
To find out if it is worth the space it takes up, he wants to sample some of Eds baking.
Robert loves the cakes he samples and confirms that he is an excellent baker.
But he doesn’t think the restaurant is the best location to have a bakery and it should be an asset to the restaurant.
Ed doesn’t know his costs of the bakery. He just bakes and puts them out for sale.
They aren’t selling all that he bakes and there is often a lot leftover each day.
Robert tells them they need to be strong on both fronts or to focus their attention on just one identity.
Robert meets with designer Nichole and the rest of the design team and she reveals she also isn’t sure on the current identity of the restaurant.
Robert asks Adam and the staff to move the furniture out of the restaurant so that the design team can get to work.
Whilst the design team are fixing the decor, Robert wants to fix the problems with the staff.
He noticed earlier in the day that the staff seem reluctant to tell the owners their opinions.
Robert sets up a private booth with a camera so that the staff can air their frustrations and issues and he would later show the footage to the family.
Robert checks in with the design team and they want to remove the bakery and instead add a bar.
This is easier said than done as the equipment is installed and is costly, so they need to be careful.
It is taking them an hour to remove each case to the truck and at that pace it will take all night just to clear these from the restaurant.
Robert meets with the family to discuss the issues they have with each other and the staff.
He shows them the footage from the staff interviews and they reveal that the staff are afraid to talk to them about issues in the restaurant.
He tells that to turn over a new leaf with their relationships with each other and with the staff.
For them to be able to work together the roles need to be clearly defined.
He gives them homework to think about what their positions are in the restaurant and what they should be.
The next day, Robert arrives and can see straight away that the design team is behind on the transformation and he urges them to speed up to be ready for relaunch.
Robert meets with the family to check that they have chosen and defined their roles.
They are clear in what their roles are and Adam will be taking the lead at the restaurant.
Robert brings in two new chefs to oversee the kitchen with Desmond being the head chef.
The new chefs are taught the new menu with new dishes including a Dungeness Crab Roll and a Grilled Halibut Poisson Cru
Robert sits with Adam and Tracy, who will be the new front of house manager to address the bad reviews from customers.
Robert tells him that the reviews show that the front of staff need retraining.
Marie leads the marketing efforts with the staff and they promote the restaurant to locals and announce the relaunch night taking place that evening.
The design team were behind and finished the transformation late so the restaurant is revealed two hours later than schedule.
The family are overwhelmed by the changes.
The pastry cases which once displayed Ed's cakes have been replaced with a wine bar and the restaurant is opened up by removing a wall.
On relaunch the customers love the new food and the new modern decor. The bar is also a big hit with the diners.
What Happened Next at Hoffman's Bistro and Patisserie?
Robert revisited and the finances have improved but they believe it will take another two years to be out of debt.
Although they were reluctant at first they believe that the bar was a great idea and have seen an increase in business from it.
They have added new menu items and wish to make a few tweaks to the decor.
Overall, they were happy with Robert's changes.
Hoffman's closed in January 2018 after they lost their lease.
Reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp were mixed after Robert visited.
Hoffman's Bistro and Patisserie was Restaurant Impossible season 2 episode 18 and aired on January 11 2012.
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This post was last updated in February 2022.