Restaurant Startup Offers a Taste of Reality

All within its pilot episode, CNBC’s Restaurant Startup has the essential ingredients for an ideal reality show with crying men; well-placed, dramatized music; no-nonsense straight talk; and even a fire. But it serves up something its predecessors can’t and don’t: substance and – well – reality.

“I think people will come away with that feeling of having experienced what it is like to really go through a restaurant deal [...] and the emotion [someone] goes through when you invest your own real, hard-earned money in someone’s restaurant.” said co-host Joe Bastianich.

Within each of the eight hour-long episodes, MasterChef’s Bastianich and beloved Fort Worth chef Tim Love give two teams the opportunity to pitch their ideas, with the hope of either Bastianich or Love investing in the idea. After a round of high-pressure questioning, one team moves forward. With the keys to a working restaurant on Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue, 36 hours and $7,500, the team is tasked with putting their dream to the test. But this 36-hour venture requires more than just serving up signature dishes. The team also creates a branding campaign and writes a business plan. At the end, Bastianich and Love decide whether or not they will put their own money on the line based on diners’ reactions, the quality of the branding and the viability of the business plan.

Restaurant Startup - Photo courtesy  of Feren Communications.
Restaurant Startup – Photo courtesy of Feren Communications.

The banter that flies between Love, known for North Texan staples such as Lonesome Dove Western Bistro and Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth, and Bastianich, a New York restaurateur and investor, makes the show lively. But despite their differing opinions, the duo agrees on one thing: “My favorite kind of restaurant is the kind of restaurant that makes money,” Bastianich said.

Love emphasized the show’s role in moving an idea from concept to reality through advice and focus. “We’re trying to focus them in on their idea of what they have and see if that can really happen,” Love said. “A young entrepreneur, generally, is very scatterbrained and unorganized yet very passionate.” The duo is looking for teams who have devotion and enthusiasm but have the ability to focus and “pinpoint where this energy needs to go and to make that restaurant open.”

Despite the increased sensationalism of the restaurant business throughout the past 25 years with the rising popularity of cooking shows, Bastianich and Love believe Restaurant Startup will offer viewers a widened perspective of the restaurant business.

“It’s very different than the kind of reality entertainment that we’ve become accustomed to that kind of infiltrates all our screens,” Bastianich said. “I think what people can come away with here is a real education about what it is to be in the restaurant business. And I think […] it undresses all the glam and fantasy about restaurants and breaks it down to the bare essence of what the business is and where the money is made.”

Restaurant Startup premieres at 9 PM July 8th on CNBC.