The Restaurant (U.S. TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||12|
|Producer(s)||Mark Burnett, Robert Riesenberg, Ben Silverman|
|Location(s)||Gramercy Park, New York City|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original release||July 20, 2003– June 5, 2004|
Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito opened the Gramercy Park, New York City, restaurant Union Pacific in August, 1997. The NBC series, it was announced, would follow DiSpirito as he launched and operated a new Manhattan restaurant. The first season revolved around the construction and opening of Rocco's on 22nd, scheduled to open in five weeks. Some 7.5 million viewers tuned in for the July 20, 2003 premiere focusing on the search for a location and construction work for the new restaurant.
Among the 2000 people who showed up hoping to be hired were various actors, models and show business hopefuls. In addition to Rocco's mother, Nicolina DiSpirito, known for her famous meatballs, the show's on-camera personnel included David Miller "Michael Miller's little bro" (Sous-chef), Alex Corrado (Maitre d'), Domiziano Arcangeli (Himself), Heather Kristin (Waitress), Natalie Norman (Waitress), Topher Goodman (Waiter), Lisa Wurzel (Herself), Brian Allen (Himself), Gideon Horowitz (Waiter), Heather Snell (Bartender), Amanda Congdon (Coat-check attendant), Pete Giovine (Waiter), Uzay Tumer (Captain), Emily Shaw (Captain), Lonn Coward (Waiter), Carrie Keranen (Waitress), Colleen Fitzgerald (Captain), Caroline Matler (Waitress), Brian Petruzzell (Busboy), Lola Belle (Bartender), Susanna Hari (Kitchen staff), Tony Acinapura (Chef), John Charlesworth (Kitchen staff), Laurent Saillard (General manager), Perry Pollaci (Kitchen staff), Matt DiBarro (Bartender), Tim Donoho (Himself)and Randy Pezz (also Meg Ryan's cousin) auditioned for the (Maitre d')position as (Himself, Steve Pezzino), but after meeting producer Mark Burnett, Mark saw Randy as a (kitchen staff) chef instead and wanted him in the kitchen, so Randy a former restaurant owner "traffic Pizzeria" in Newark, New Jersey in the 1980s did not accept the position. Randy was also a star of Manhattan towers a small production by Beverly Bonner in NYC at Don't Tell Mama's and that same year starred in an off Broadway production of 12 Angry Men as juror number 5.
Only 6.5 million viewers tuned in for the second season premiere, despite launching a week after the finale of the hit first season of The Apprentice. The second season, filmed six months after the restaurant's opening, showed an ongoing power conflict between part owner Rocco DiSpirito and financier Jeffrey Chodorow, stemming from the restaurant's lack of profitability despite its popularity.
On July 27, 2004, New York Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman issued an injunction barring Rocco DiSpirito from Rocco's on 22nd street and gave Jeffrey Chodorow permission to sell or reopen the restaurant under a new theme. Chodorow and DiSpirito were ordered to return to court on August 31 to determine if there was an agreement between the parties and if DiSpirito violated the agreement. After that ruling DiSpirito attempted to file a $6 million countersuit charging that Chodorow made accounting irregularities and that he (DiSpirito) was owed $175,000 in unpaid salary, and DiSpirito sought to regain fifty percent ownership of the restaurant. Chodorow initially invested $4 million in the restaurant and claims to have lost an additional $700,000.
After the restaurant closed its doors on September 15, 2004, it reopened in 2005 as a Brazilian steakhouse called Caviar & Banana. Chodorow's partner in the Brazilian restaurant was chef Claude Troisgros of Roanne, France, renowned for his namesake restaurant in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Caviar & Banana has since closed, along with the subsequent Borough Food & Drink restaurant; the locale continuing to live up to its allegedly "cursed" reputation. The spot is currently home to Almond, a French bistro opened by Jason Weiner and Eric Lemonides, the men behind Almond and Almoncello in the Hamptons.
- William Grimes (September 17, 2003). "The Reality, With the Reality Show Gone". The New York Times.
- Florence Fabricant (December 28, 2005). "DiSpirito Goes Off the Air".
- Florence Fabricant; Marian Burros (September 29, 2004). "Rocco DiSpirito Is Out at Union Pacific". The New York Times.
- Susan Saulny (July 28, 2004). "Judge Orders Rocco Out of Rocco's". The New York Times.
- Doree Shafrir (2007-11-14). "Chodorow Eats New York". The New York Observer.