Second North County eatery to get ‘Restaurant: Impossible’ makeover

Incredible Cafe in Rancho Bernardo
Incredible Cafe owner Liz Song, center, photographed in 2016 with customers in her Rancho Bernardo restaurant The Incredible Cafe.
(Pam Kragen/ U-T)

Just three days after Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible” renovation team finished making over Escondido’s Rosie’s Cafe, producers announced they’ll return next week for a three-day shoot at another North County restaurant.

The Incredible Cafe — a 25-year-old family-run breakfast/lunch eatery in Rancho Bernardo — will be the next recipient of a whirlwind makeover courtesy of Chef Robert Irvine and a team of designers and volunteers.

On Jan. 22, the TV production crew will arrive at The Incredible Cafe in the New Mercado shopping center. Irvine will spend a day assessing the restaurant’s operations. Then it will close on Jan. 23 for a 36-hour makeover valued at more than $10,000.

In order to accomplish the whirlwind television event, producers have put out a call for local construction and renovation companies that would like to participate in the renovation. Local diners are also needed to take part in post-opening meals.

The TV series — which ran from 2011 to 2016 and was renewed this month — sends the veteran British chef into a failing American restaurant where he studies its menu, business practices, decor, concept and cleanliness and teaches the owner how to rightsize the menu, rework the recipes, market the business and better train the staff.

“Restaurant: Impossible” will air on Saturday nights on Food Network and is slated to return for its new season on April 20.

It’s not clear when the Rosie’s or Incredible Cafe episodes will air, but last week Irvine posted a video on social media in the alley behind Rosie’s, which underwent its makeover Jan. 9-11. In the video, Irvine said he was eager to start the first day of season filming, so presumably the Rosie’s makeover will be the first episode.

For the Incredible Cafe makeover episode, producers are now seeking volunteers who would like to take part in renovation painting, crafting, constructing, cleaning or decorating. They are invited to apply for a position on one or more of the three work shifts: Noon to 7 p.m. Jan. 23; 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Jan. 23; and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 24.

Applicants must be 18 or older and must wear work clothing with no visible logos. Workers will not be paid but will receive free meals. To be considered, apply by noon Jan. 20 to this email address: Include the words “1402 VOL Request” in the subject line and in the body of the email include your full name, email address, cellphone number and skill set related to the renovation.

Producers are looking for skilled contractors, electricians, plumbers, upholsterers and painters. A confirmation email will be sent to all those accepted for the production.

Reservations are also being taken for local residents who would like to dine at The Incredible Cafe when it reopens at 7 p.m. Jan. 24. For consideration, apply by noon Jan. 18 to this email address: Include “1402 Re-Open Reservations” in the email’s subject line and in the body of the email include your with full name, email address, cellphone number, party size and the names of the people in your party.

Although participants will be filmed, there is no guarantee they will be seen on-air.

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