Restaurant Revisited: Zandi's
At Zandi’s in Millersville, Md., sisters and co-owners Evette Aponte and Yvonne Zandi were just a few months from closing down when Robert Irvine showed up. He was discouraged to find not only lackluster food, poor service and tired decor, but a lack of passion on the part of the owners. A few months after their emotional Restaurant: Impossible makeover, we checked in with Evette and Yvonne to see how business is going.
Since Robert’s Restaurant: Impossible intervention, sales at Zandi’s are up 39%. They’ve gone from roughly 30 customers per day up to 70. Evette and Yvonne are slowly catching up on their debt and will soon be able to start paying their mother back.
Evette and Yvonne have made great headway to get the word out about their restaurant and its out-of-the-way location. They fax out specials for the day to local businesses and have distributed menus around town. “We’re also the main sponsor for a local high school; they put our business information on their sporting event handouts such as cups, shirts and rally towels,” they explain.
“Everyone loves the new look! Our favorite changes are the new floor and [interior designer] Taniya's wall art.” Evette and Yvonne's mom also likes the changes and is optimistic that business will continue to grow.
The chef that the owners hired, Alan, is no longer at the restaurant. The sisters were able to find a new replacement who has impressed everyone so far. Zandi’s used to hire chefs based solely on their resumes; now, thanks to Robert, they have any chef candidate cook for them as part of the interview process.
Regarding the menu, Evette and Yvonne learned from Robert that less is more, and they’ve stuck with “fewer menu items prepared really well opposed to a lot of items done mediocre.” Customers love the burgers, and milkshake sales are picking up for the summer. They are now gearing up to start serving dinner a few nights a week and are working to secure a beer and wine license.
“Our passion is back and gets stronger as we slowly get caught up on our debt,” Evette and Yvonne say. “We are proud to say we own Zandi’s.”