Chef Robert Irvine and the Restaurant: Impossible crew revisited Padre Rita Grill in South Padre Island, Texas, to get an update on how things were going. The crew first visited the restaurant in 2014 to give it an updated look and menu. It will be featured on a special Restaurant: Impossible Revisited episode on January 23, 2020.
Padre Rita Grill, which is owned by J. Michael and Cathy Laferty, was underfunded when it opened. They applied to be on Restaurant: Impossible for some extra publicity for the restaurant.
The original episode, titled “Paradise: Impossible,” aired on October 6, 2014. The synopsis for the episode said Chef Irvine would be overhauling the “tacky decor” and refocus the owners on the restaurant’s bottom line.
What Updates Were Made?
During the initial visit from the crew, the restaurant’s interior space was transformed from being simply island-themed to being more of a “next-level nautical” experience.
The menu was overhauled as well. Irvine insisted on adding fresh flavors to the menu along with furthering the coastal influence that was already present. There was originally a salad bar at the restaurant, but they got rid of that.
“I believe the staff is very happy about not having the salad bar to deal with,” Cathy told Food Network in 2014. “It was a daily issue [in terms of] cleaning and keeping filled, and they each voiced their dislike of the duty.”
Michael added that they had brought some of their favorites from the original menu back and reincorporated standards held before the visit from Restaurant: Impossible.
“The items are selling well and steadily, but it has taken a considerable amount of finesse and tweaking,” he said. “Our menu is larger than when Robert left us, but is still a one-page menu that you can read without a magnifying glass.”
Irvine also had Michael step up to the role of general manager, which was a change for the staff as well. He said he was being accepted in that role pretty well following the changes.
How’s The Restaurant Doing Now?
Now, Padre Rita Grill serves seafood, steak, burgers, tacos and salads. They feature a weekend Buffet and entrees like pineapple onion chicken and chipotle chicken tacos. You can view the current menu for Padre Rita’s on their website here.
Reviews for the restaurant indicate that things are still going pretty well. On Google Reviews, Padre Rita’s has an average of 3.8 out of 5 stars with 961 reviews. On Yelp, the restaurant has 311 reviews and a total of 3 out of 5 stars. Trip Advisor shows 540 reviews with an average rating of 3.5 out of 5.
Yelp user Jessica M. gave the restaurant 5 stars, citing the food and service. They wrote: “The food is phenomenal. It is so freaking delicious. The mash potatoes are made from scratch with real potatoes not the mix! Everything was so good. The waiter was so courteous and helpful. Everything was brought out in a timely manner.”
User Misty May S. reviewed the restaurant in July 2019, giving it a three-star rating. “We had high hopes for this place because it was on that TV show where a chef comes in and ‘saves’ a restaurant. The decor was cute, but it looked like it hadn’t been kept up properly.”
The review continues to say that the food was not impressive and a bit overpriced.
Tune in to Restaurant: Impossible tonight at 10 p.m. to see what’s new with the restaurant.