Food & Drink

National Show Ambushes West Orange’s Starlite Restaurant and Pizzeria

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Chef Robert Irvine  Credits: Food Network website
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The Crew Camps Out at Starlite Wednesday Night Credits: Joe Ricci
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The Crew Strategizes at Starlite Credits: Joe Ricci
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The Crew Camps Out at Starlite Wednesday Night Credits: Joe Ricci
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Chef Robert Irvine Helps Another Restaurant Owner Credits: Food Network website
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WEST ORANGE, NJ – West Orange staple Starlite Restaurant and Pizzeria, which opened in 1961, is about to get a surprise face lift and will be reopening this week.

In a Facebook post at noon, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, Chef Robert Irvine announced that a local eatery was his latest target for his popular Food Network show, “Restaurant: Impossible.” 

He wrote, “Just ambushed the Starlight (Starlite) Restaurant in West Orange, NJ. Wow!! Come grab a broom, a paint brush, and help change a person's life.”

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On “Restaurant: Impossible,” Irvine, crew and local volunteers ambush a local restaurant, and, in just two days with a budget of $10,000, change anything and everything from the décor to the menu to help the owners get a fresh start or revive an established business.

The Starlite Restaurant and Pizzeria was abuzz all day and night with crews and volunteers preparing for its reopening on Thursday night, Jan. 7, at 6 p.m. for two reserved seatings, which will be filmed by the show. It will then reopen after that for regular business. The episode of the show featuring Starlite will air in March.

Facebook was flooded with messages of excitement and support for the instant renovation and owner, Patty Spango, former West Orange Councilwoman and current Deputy Superintendent of Election for Essex County, as news spread quickly among residents and the construction crews and volunteers descended on the site.

Later in the day, Irvine tweeted the need for staff. He wrote, “Any cooks or servers anywhere in West Orange that have restaurant experience, please email Jelmore@alkemy-x.com if you need a job.”

According to the show’s site, establishments which have been featured on “Restaurant: Impossible” have usually seen an uptick in business due to the publicity and the revamped décor and menu items. In fact, late last year, the show remade another NJ eatery, Whitehouse Station’s La Casa Bianca. In a recent article on the Food Network’s FN Dish site, owner of the restaurant Paul Liscio said the changes made to his restaurant have started paying off.

“Business is picking up,” Liscio said in the article. “(The experience) has brought new customers. The combo of my food and what (Robert and the team) did is clicking more and more every day. It’s special.”

Irvine currently has three shows on the network. And, Irvine is “ready for any challenge” on his shows: “Restaurant Express,” Restaurant: Impossible” and “Dinner: Impossible.” In addition, Irvine’s cookbook titled, “Impossible to Easy,” continues that theme.

To see Irvine’s favorite Top 5 renovations from the show and other videos, click HERE.

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