Italian eatery to get mega makeover on national TV

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - Food Network's hit TV show Restaurant Impossible is making its way to the Grand Strand.

Next Tuesday, Jan. 22 production crews will take over an Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet.

For two days doors will be completely closed to diners. Restaurant Impossible crews will have just 48 hours to transform, and possibly save Old World Italian from closing its doors for good.

George and Teresa Hayek opened the Italian eatery in 1995. The couple and their son George Jr have been serving homemade Italian food ever since.

"Real Italian. You're not going to get it out of a can, that's for sure," said long time customer George Dixon. Like Dixon, there are many more loyal diners who love the feel of the mom and pop spot.

"Nice, quaint, quiet little Italian place," says Cheryl Strickland.

But despite local fans, the Hayeks say times are tough and they're struggling to stay open for business.

They say people just aren't dining as much and Old World Italian is just one of hundreds of nearby restaurants to choose from.

Nora Battle with the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce can attest to that. "With nearly 2000 restaurants in the Grand Strand, It certainly does make for a lot of competition."

The Hayeks can't change the state of the economy, or change the number or restaurants in the Grand Strand. Next Tuesday Chef Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible will try to make Old World shine once again.

Restaurant Impossible is a hit show on the Food Network where Chef Irvine and his team take over a failing restaurant. The crew gives it a complete makeover in 48 hours, with a $10,000 budget.

At the end of the two day renovation marathon, Old World Italian will reopen. The Hayeks hope a completely new look and the national spotlight could be just what the Italian eatery needs to stay afloat. Battle says the episode is a potential win for the beach too. "This is great news for the area. We're reaching thousands of viewers who are hearing the Myrtle Beach name and seeing our product. "

Longtime customers say they'll be rooting for the Hayeks, as long as some things remain the same.

"I wouldn't want them to change their deserts for sure," said Strickland.

The grand reopening will be next Thursday, Jan. 24. Food Network producers say the episode will air in four months.

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