Off-network repeats of the hit ABC reality series “Shark Tank” have proven to be very popular with CNBC viewers, so it makes sense that the business network would take a new spin to that established format for its next original program.
Meet “Restaurant Startup,” currently airing on Tuesday nights, in which two entrepreneurs — restaurateur and TV personality Joe Bastianich and chef-restaurateur Tim Love — give an audience to budding restaurant owners who need a cash infusion to get their business started.
On this new series, however, the candidates can’t just come up with a stirring presentation and walk away with a check. They have to put up or shut up with the food they plan to serve, a challenge that isn’t for the faint of heart.
Each week, Bastianich and Love hear presentations from two teams, each wanting to open a restaurant or specialty food shop. The more persuasive of the teams is selected to put together in three days a pop-up version of their restaurant in a space the producers provide on busy Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The winning team also will get $7500 toward expenses, as well as consultant services from chef and “brand builder” Waylynn Lucas.
“They’ll have three days to create their brand, build a menu and prepare for a grand opening, where they will test their concept on the public,” explains Jim Ackerman, CNBC’s senior vice president of alternative programming to Zap2it. “In the end, Joe and Tim will decide whether or not they’ll put their own money on the line and make a dream come true.”
Three days may seem an impossibly short window for anyone to pull together a pop-up restaurant, but Love says he and Bastianich have reasonable expectations. They just want to get a strong idea of the concept, as well as how “together” a team is.
“I always say, ‘If you can’t describe the restaurant you want to open in one sentence, then you can’t be on my show,’ ” Love says. “So if you can’t execute it within three days, you’re in the wrong spot as well.
“At the end of the day, we’re investing in people,” he adds. “What I really want to invest in is somebody who wants to get something done and has the ability and drive to put behind it.”
The diners at the pop-up restaurant’s single night of service, for which they pay nothing, is a mixed groip made up of people invited by the team members, patrons just walking in off the street, and guests invited by Bastianich, Love and Lucas to offer their own opinions.
While each episode will feature a team working in the same Los Angeles restaurant space, Love says in some cases he and Bastianich may elect to finance some restaurants only if their owners set up shop in a less competitive market.
“If I make an investment, I may say, ‘You know what, you’re not going to open up in L.A.,’ ” Love says, “but I’ll give you money to open up in Austin, Texas, or Charlotte, N.C.”