Restaurant Ambush Revisited: Eyes on the Surprise at Copper Still CD Vodka Lounge and Eatery
While Stephanie, the bar manager at Copper Still CD Vodka Lounge and Eatery, had reached out to Robert Irvine for help in reviving business, she never could have expected that he'd turn up unannounced. In a tricky double elimination, when he arrived with his Restaurant: Impossible team in tow, Robert shocked not only Stephanie but also Christina, the owner of the Crestwood, Ill., restaurant. Eight months after opening the doors to Copper Still, Christina had yet to make a profit on the eatery, and the financial struggle had begun to put a strain on her marriage to her husband, Dominic. It was up to Robert to reinvigorate Christina, mend her relationship and transform Copper Still — and he almost had to do it alone. Stephanie was so upset by Robert's ambush that she nearly didn't help in the renovation, but ultimately, in true Irvine fashion, that didn't stop Robert from completing his mission. Read on below to hear from Christina and see how Copper Still is faring a few months since it reopened.
"The ambush has definitely opened my eyes to the different problems that we had with staff and training," Christina says, reflecting on her Restaurant: Impossible experience. "I have now since become more aggressive with the direction I would like the staff to go into. I have had less toleration for the behavior we once overlooked." She adds that there are now "new rules and procedures that the staff must understand and follow," and she says that there is "a different training process" in place for new staff members.
"The 'barn doors' around the back bar and the design in the tasting room are my favorite parts," Christina notes of the updated interior at Copper Still. As for the menu at the restaurant, Christina explains that it's now a mix of original items and the brand-new dishes that Robert created. According to Christina, "the Poutine and Mahi Sliders are definitely a hit." She adds, "We hope that our new take on the dining side after the RI visit remains a big hit and keeps local customers coming back to drink and eat."
Bar manager Stephanie "has really stepped into the position in a forceful manner," Christina admits, adding, "She has helped with all-new hiring and training for staff. She is currently handling the scheduling for the front of the house and is in forcing our new write-up system."
As for her marriage, Christina says, "We continue to work on leaving the business out of our home life. He has become less involved, but still hard habits are difficult to change."