TUPELO • In December 2011, Robert Irvine and his staff from “Restaurant: Impossible” spent two days and $10,000 revamping Woody’s restaurant in Tupelo.
Chef Irvine changed the decor, the menu, the layout of the kitchen and the management structure. The episode aired on the Food Network the following March.
This past October, Irvine was back in Tupelo for a day with his film crew to revisit Woody’s and see what changes have stuck. The episode, titled “Ruffled Feathers,” airs Thursday at 7 p.m. on the Food Network.
“The revisit is where Robert comes in and sees what you’ve done since he’s been gone, how you’ve made the restaurant successful and what you took away from the first episode,” said Feather Burns, who owns the restaurant along with her mother, Trisha.
Burns said she and her staff probably kept about 25 percent of the suggestions Irvine made eight years ago.
“There were just things that worked for us that didn’t work for him,” she said. “For instance, our bread and blackberry butter. He said by giving that to our customers, we were giving away money. And he didn’t like our table-side Bananas Foster. He said it took too much time, but that’s a dessert we’ve been doing at Woody’s for more than 20 years.”
Burns brought back the bread and butter and the signature dessert.
“We had to,” she said. “Customers were complaining.”
When Irvine visited in October, he worked with the kitchen staff again to tighten the structure.
“It was another opportunity to look at the restaurant and see what was working and what could be better,” Burns said. “This restaurant has thrived, for the most part, since 1993. That’s hard to do these days. You just have to be relevant and be able to evolve.”
Woody’s will host a private party Thursday for the 120 customers who were at the filming in October. They’ll watch the “Restaurant: Impossible” episode together and Burns will live tweet their reactions.
“It will be the first time the staff and I see what the end result is,” she said. “I suspect Robert will be weighing in on what I say, since that’s how he maintains contact with us.”
Follow the conversation at @woodystupelo.