Chef Robert Irvine first visited and renovated Hillbillies Restaurant in California back in a January 2014 episode of Restaurant: Impossible. Tonight, January 20, 2020, six years after the initial visit, a special episode titled “Revisited: An Entire Life’s Savings,” which will feature Irvine’s revisit to the restaurant to see what has changed since his initial visit, will air.
The episode description for the revisit says the first time Irvine visited the breakfast-and-lunch diner, he found a messy restaurant plagued by a defiant and lazy staff. The owner had poured all of her savings into the restaurant, but it was not successful.
Hillbillies is located in Murphys, California and owned by Jami Saul. When he first visited the restaurant, Irvine had to teach Saul to be able to speak up more and stand up for herself. Using the 48 hours and $10,000 they had to renovate the business, Restaurant: Impossible delivered a new menu and upgraded decor.
The Owner Loved the Restaurant: Impossible Renovation
In an interview with Food Network after the original episode aired, Saul complimented the new design of her restaurant.
“I do love the simplicity and clean feeling the new design brings to the restaurant,” she said. “My favorite is the front entrance and back wall of pallets.”
When it came to the new food options on the menu, Saul said the customers love the new food but also have an appreciation for the older food. She said the best-seller food option was still the frog legs and chicken fried steak, but the Hong Kong sandwich Irvine created was added to the of the best-selling items.
When it came to the experience overall, Saul said she took in every word Irvine told her.
“There is not one word that Chef Robert said to us all that I can honestly say did not register,” she said. “Chef Robert instilled the confidence in me that I should have had the whole time.”
Reviews Since the Restaurant: Impossible Episode are Mostly Positive
On the Yelp page, Hillbillies Restaurant has a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars based on 204 reviews. The most recent review was left in February 2020 and mentions that the decor was very clean.
In the four-star review, the user writes, “Our food was very good! I ordered the chicken fried steak omelette, hubby had the breakfast bowl. The place was very busy and they only had two waitresses. […] We would return to this restaurant!”
One two-star review from September 2019 mentions the Restaurant: Impossible renovation, saying that the interior had been updated and included “quirky decorations” and pallets on the wall but they would probably not return to Hillbillies.
The user writes, “Unfortunately the food was passable at best. They were out of home fries, biscuits and the bread bowl for one of their specialty items. So my wife got a scramble on English muffin (gross) and I got the chicken fried steak omelette. Sounded like it had potential when ordering but it wasn’t good.”
On Facebook, Hillbillies has 140 reviews for an average rating of 4.4 out of 5. The recent reviews mention the burgers and large portions offered.
Out of 265 reviews on Google Reviews, Hillbillies has an average of 4.4 stars out of 5, matching their Facebook rating exactly. The most recent review was left on February 19, 2020. The user mentioned the cute decor and good service.
The review reads, “However, chairs are extremely uncomfortable metal things with no back support. Thankfully I was able to grab one of a handful of chairs on hand that had some padding. Food is generous portions, way more than I could eat. It was all good but not exceptional.”
Tune in to Restaurant: Impossible February 20, 2020 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network to see Irvine revisit the restaurant.