The Restaurant (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The Restaurant is a reality television series that aired on NBC in 2003, with a second season broadcasting in 2004. The series had encore presentations on CNBC and Bravo.
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 (Sous-chef), Alex Corrado (Maitre d'), Domiziano Arcangeli (Himself), 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 (Food runner), 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) and Tim Donoho (Himself).
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 and 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 and Banana has since closed, and the location continues to live up to its cursed reputation.