The food is fresher and the decor more modern, say those who’ve eaten at Angelo’s in Woodstock since Chef Robert Irvine revamped the restaurant.
Fans of both the restaurant and Irvine’s popular show, “Restaurant: Impossible,” will tune in at 9 p.m. Sunday when “It’s All Greek to Me” premieres on the Food Network.
The episode features Angelo’s and the time Irvine spent on the Woodstock Square. As part of his show, Irvine is given $10,000 to turn around failing restaurants within two days.
Restaurant co-owner Angele Paloumbis said he is not allowed to disclose anything about the show until five days after it airs. Since the filming of the show, the restaurant has opened for dinner and features new menus, with items such as a new Greek Burger, which is getting positive reviews.
“I can’t eat that as often as I’d like to, but it’s really, really good,” said Arlene Lynes, owner of the nearby Read Between the Lynes book store, who’s also training for a marathon.
Since Irvine’s stop in town, she’s been watching his show and the store has added his cookbooks to the shelves, she said. Once the show airs, she imagines even more patrons will come to the Square.
“The buzz I’m feeling is that we’re all very excited to see the episode,” she said.
The “Restaurant: Impossible” production crew actually used the nearby Woodstock Opera House as an all-night fortress from the wind and rain during the April filming of the episode, Opera House Director John Scharres said.
He and others at the Opera House were impressed by the crew’s high-end, cable-free production equipment, and intrigued by the amount done in such a short timeframe.
They often order from Angelo’s to provide food for performers and others, Scharres said. Ed Asner, an actor who’s performed at the Opera House and is best known for his work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Lou Grant,” is a fan.
“Ed Asner loves the chicken. He kept telling me, ‘I hate to leave this chicken,’ ” I thought that was a pretty good vote,” Scharres said.
Scharres himself recently ate breakfast there.
“It was noticeable they were really using fresher ingredients, not frozen potatoes, but fresh potatoes, and the presentation was much nicer,” he said.
“The food is a little more upscale,” he said.
Because of the Opera House and the filming of “Groundhog Day” on the Woodstock Square, the town has had plenty of media exposure through the years, he said.
“But it’s always nice to have more,” he said.
Fans and onlookers who gathered during the filming since have returned, both curious and eager to see the changes made. Reviews have been somewhat mixed, but positive for the most part, including those on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Judy Pelinski of Lake in the Hills, owner of Fresh Look Interiors, stopped by during filming and again recently to check out the new decor.
“I thought it wasn’t too modern for where it is,” she said. “I thought they really kept that thought in mind, that it’s on the Square and it’s historic.”
Before the restaurant’s renovation, she said she would have described the decor as “outdated 80s.” Now, it’s more “retro modern,” she said, pointing out the restaurant’s metal chairs.
“They’re old type of chairs that are new again,” she said.
She also likes the new colors, including a lot of earth tones, such as a type of barn red.
“It isn’t a screaming-in-you-face red,” she said. “They all blend very well. They’re more earthy colors. The red is a bold, which really draws your eye. ... I think it’ll stand the test of time.”
Her only critique is that if you look closely, you can tell the changes were made quickly in a couple of places, such as a wall where a second coat of paint could have helped.
Then again, she said, “I know they’re on such a tight schedule. I’m pickier than most people.”
Whatever the outcome of the renovations and the upcoming episode, the filming already has benefited Woodstock, city leaders say.
An important, family owned business, Angelo’s has been a fixture in the Square for 40 years, they say.
“Restaurant: Impossible” has created a sense of energy and enthusiasm, Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager said.
“We have been pleased with the physical improvements made at the restaurant on behalf of Angelo’s and trust that the airing will increase the interest and curiosity of the viewing public, who will want to make sure to visit the restaurant and enjoy the ambiance and fine food that is a tradition of Angelo’s,” he said.