Netflix has a new docuseries, Restaurants On The Edge that you need to watch right now. What happens when a chef, designer and restaurateur walk into a flailing space? Creative juices begin to flow as problems are tackled and lives are changed.
Looking for some excellent reality TV programming to settle in with as the coronavirus empties the streets and shops? Netflix brings a trio of experts together to help restaurateurs realize their vision of what their business should be. There’s no shouting like other similar premised reality series that makeover restaurants due to laziness or lack of care.
No sir, this trio finds places in gorgeous locales that are just missing the mark for lack of vision or ability to create the right combo of vibe, food costs and promotional savvy.
What we get is Restaurants on the Edge, a Netflix original that is equal parts travel show, business inspiration, unique cultural celebration and 100 percent heart. Two Canadians and one Los Angeleno click like crazy and their missions are not to hector but to help fellow food entrepreneurs get to that finish line with flair.
Six countries are visited in the first season of six episodes, with Malta being the kickoff. If you have never been to Malta, after watching this episode you will be planning a trip.
A restaurant design show seems like an already been there done that deal, but the secret sauce is the three people who star in this series.
The show’s hosts — chef Dennis Prescott, designer Karin Bohn and restaurateur Nick Liberato — head to six fabulous locations all over the world to renovate and reboot the restaurants’ menus, business models and decor to help the owners out of their funk.
The premiere episode takes us to tiny Malta, specifically the town of Marsaxlokk. We meet a soccer star who has created his dream restaurant, Haber 16, that spills out facing the Mediterranean.
There’s a big problem, the handsome soccer goalie has zero business sense and is importing very expensive ingredients while he is surrounded by local fantastic fish and shellfish.
The decor is meh too, so the three help him personalize the place, update it and improve the footprint of it so that people will rediscover this place.
We get to know Justin Haber, the father, and goalie in Malta’s top professional soccer league. He adores his family, misses his mentor grandfather and is drowning in debt. Prescott sounds the alarms about his food costs, the shellfish from Norway and Paris is exorbitant and hello, they have a rocking fish market right there in his backyard of tiny Malta!
Karin takes the personal edge of this local hero and parlays it into an update on his decor and Nick hooks him up with a local publisher who commits to writing up his restaurant in a glossy magazine, shining a big light on this lost in the shuffle cafe.
The end result is tears, cheers and a new focus for Haber who wants to do this for the rest of his life, especially post sports career, on his home turf.
Not only do we get a genuinely heartwarming story that resonates with veracity, but we also get a bird’s eye view of a place many Americans may not be familiar with, and all I can say is I have Malta at the top of my “must see” list to check out. Incredible architecture, people, food and history are found in this little Mediterranean jewel between Africa and Europe.
Restaurants on the Edge also takes us to Hong Kong, and another must-see place, Tobermory in Canada, north of Toronto. You would never imagine that Caribbean teal, green and blue waters are up in the Great White North!
This episode will level you as the owner of Coconut Joe’s has such a profound backstory, no dry eyes as Karin gets to the bottom of his micromanaging issues. That was my top episode for overall satisfaction, but every single one is a magical trip and discovery of places lesser-known and more common, such as St. Lucia, Austria and Costa Rica too.
What differentiates this series from others is there’s no shaming, no screaming and no histrionics that are hallmark to reality shows of this ilk. You get proactive and genuinely enthused and energetic approaches to problems that require a new POV, a new burst of energy and expert advice on how to maximize the revenue part of the dream, as most of these restaurants are passion projects for each owner.
You won’t be involved in the minutia of the simple carpentry fixes and redesigns either. It’s more travel show and less “this is how we do it” nuts and bolts. The reveals are never over-the-top gut jobs, but are always incredible too.
What the takeaway will be for the viewer is how hard opening, maintaining and even conceptualizing a restaurant truly is, and the ones that get it right have mastered that balance of creating a space where people want to be, with a menu that doesn’t fight the local food supply and has a killer view to add to the mix.
And those who understand food, presentation, space and vibe are the ones who usually finish the race in a business that has a brutal turnover rate.
Make sure to catch this one and binge for ideas not only for travel but for menu planning and even decor and organizational tips that translate to a home too.
Restaurants on the Edge launched on Netflix on February 28 worldwide ( with a March 14 release in Canada).