Reality TV is all the rage right now. You can find a show, pretty much on any topic or interest. That’s exactly how a local couple learned they could probably qualify. And they did!
A desperate restaurant was looking to be saved.
It’s been a year since the cameras and lights came to Lebanon, and we’re going Back for Seconds.
“We opened on August 16, 2005,” Nick Yager said.
Gusanoz was a labor of love for husband and wife Nick Yager and Maria Limon.
We had no money,” Yager said. But their dream did pay off and quickly.
“When we opened it was crazy people were waiting an hour and 45 minutes,” Limon said.
But that was eight years ago. The New Hampshire couple opened up a second location in 2006.
“That was our first big mistake,” Yager said. They even went for a third location in Hanover.
“We had a huge debt that we had amassed as well,” Yager said.
They were almost half a million dollars in trouble.
Nick and Maria needed help; Gusanoz needed muscle to turn things around.
The Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible” came calling, after Nick applied. The show’s star, Chef Robert Irvine was up for the challenge. Chef Robert had $10,000 to work with.
“We relinquished control of the restaurant for 48 hours. They took it all away, they knock you down, they build you back up slowly,” Yager said.
Maria’s son Eddie, who works in the kitchen, got the brunt of it.
“He was tough and scary but he kept telling me – you can do better than that,” Limon said.
Maria’s biggest concern, her mother’s recipes. After admitting the quality of the food did suffer, Maria whipped up something fresh for Robert, which he enjoyed.
“I needed that, I needed it so badly, because I lost all my confidence, I had lost everything, I questioned every moment, every move that I made,” Limon said.
In the renovation, the walls of the restaurant were painted one, a wall of sombreros was added, and decorative light fixtures, mimicking a Mexican blanket.
They even had to downsize the menu, and increase prices a bit. Limon admits she was worried about her customers adjusting.
“Yes, yes, it was a rough couple of months and there was a point we were questioning if we did the right thing, is this going to really take us down,” Limon said.
That changed when the episode aired.
“People would come in and they would bring us cards, and go give Maria a hug.” Yager said.
Maria brought back old favorites for loyal customers. And she’s still adding entrees, including one called a Sizzling Molcajete.
“It’s rice and cheese queso sauce that’s made with heavy cream, poblano peppers, chicken and steak that’s all cooked on the grill,” Yager said.
Gusanoz, showing us it’s possible to succeed, again.
“You can change the food, you can change the menu, you can change everything else, but our people really are the heart of the place,” Yager said.