November 23, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria restaurant to get Food Network makeover

Moss’ Prime Rib & Spaghetti House, 525 Broad St.

ELYRIA — Fans of the Food Network show “Restaurant Impossible” and Chef Robert Irvine know that the culinary cutthroat can be a little unforgiving in the comments he makes when he sees a failing restaurant in need of his services.

But apparently one local restaurant owner is ready for whatever is thrown at her.

The Food Network show will roll into Elyria next week for an intense two-day transformation of Moss’ Prime Rib & Spaghetti House with a budget of $10,000.

Irvine

Restaurant owner Sandi Laubenthal said she is excited, nervous and anxious about the upcoming taping. She watches the show religiously and mines it for ideas on how to improve her own business.

“The show is amazing, and the benefits that the lucky restaurants receive from this opportunity are invaluable,” she said. “We feel like have won the lottery.”

The show’s associate producer said Moss’ had everything they were looking for in a restaurant.

“They had the need, the desire and good people in the restaurant,” said Erin Hilgedick, associate producer of the show. “Most of all, they wanted to change and asked for our help.”

Hilgedick said the “Restaurant Impossible” team will be in Elyria on Oct. 29 and 30 and will film the grand reopening reveal the night of Oct. 30. The restaurant will be closed for most of the redo and taping.

That is the time when Laubenthal will receive some criticism, but she said she is very open to any changes, advice and criticism.

“We are very much in need of help,” she said. “We, being one of the only independent restaurants left in Elyria, especially downtown, are finding it very difficult to compete with the national chains. We are not only hoping for our success, but also hoping this will start to bring our residents back downtown for it really is not nearly as unsafe as the reports are given.”

Moss’ has been a part of the Elyria community for more than 50 years.

Laubenthal became owner almost 11 years ago when she bought the restaurant and moved it to its current location.

“We were just unable to watch Moss’ just disappear, so we purchased the name and a few of the recipes and found a location and started building this restaurant in hopes that it would be accepted as it has in the past,” she said.

The current decor of Moss’ is romantic with dim lighting and dark wood paneling. There are rich hunter green walls and the tables are adorned with deep burgundy tablecloths. The current menu consists of slow-cooked prime rib, spaghetti and other pasta dishes, some seafood, burgers and salads.

“There is a misconception that we are an expensive place to come, but in all reality, we are very competitively priced,” Laubenthal said.

There is no telling if those classics will stay.

“They will do everything they can to help the failing restaurant in those two days, and that could mean the menu, operations or decor. Everything is on the table,” Hilgedick said.

Patrons who want to dine at the new Moss’ on the day of the reveal can start making reservations. Patrons will be asked to simply order food off the new menu and pay for the meals like usual.

“Restaurant Impossible” crisscrosses the country, but this is not its first time in Northeast Ohio.

In August, it transformed the Mad Cactus in Strongsville, and owner Tom Krukemeyer said the experience was “interesting.”

“It was tough. Robert Irvine and I did not get along,” he said. “I was a bit hesitant to do it because I know how the show goes. So my biggest question is why do I want to be on national television and what can someone sitting in Seattle seeing this do for my business?”

But Krukemeyer is not talking down the experience.

“Business is up about 15 percent,” he said. “We have a new fresh look and a new, contemporary menu with a salsa bar that people love.”

So, Krukemeyer’s advice for Laubenthal is simple: Be ready for anything.

“They got a lot of tricks,” he said laughing.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.