An update on Mill Creek BBQ from Restaurant: Impossible

Steve and Lisette Brown no longer own Mill Creek BBQ – the restaurant featured on the eighth season of Restaurant: Impossible.

The “Up in Smoke” episode of Restaurant: Impossible saw Robert Irvine intervening not only in the business side of things, but also in the Brown’s family feud.

Although Mill Creek BBQ did fairly well after Irvine’s visit in 2014, the owners later decided to sell the restaurant to a new owner.

All about the “Up in Smoke” episode from Restaurant: Impossible

The eighth season of Robert Irvine’s restaurant-rescue show, Restaurant: Impossible, opened with this experienced chef and restaurateur stopping by Mill Creek BBQ in Redlands, California.

The “Up in Smoke” episode first aired on March 5, 2014, and saw Irvine and the Restaurant: Impossible team face just about everything.

This ranged from family rifts to bland barbeques, and a complete redesign of the redesign, in order to get this family-run business back up and running within a very limited timeframe and budget.

An update on Mill Creek BBQ from Restaurant: Impossible

Lisette and Steve Brown had opened the Mill Creek BBQ restaurant, which was at the center of the “Up in Smoke” episode five years before Irvine visited it.

However, Steve’s inexperience in the restaurant industry and lingering conflict between Lisette and their 21-year-old daughter, Brooke had started taking a toll on the business in its second year.

When Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team first arrived at Mill Creek BBQ in 2014, he got straight to work assessing which issues could be contributing to the restaurant’s sudden and unexpected decline in revenue.

It was evident that the failing business had taken a toll on all of the members of the Brown family, and that Irvine’s intervention would need to address much more than just the business side of things.

By the end of the episode, Irvine had managed to work through a Brown family therapy-session and had convinced Steve to update some of the bland and tasteless food items on the restaurant’s menu.

He also encouraged Steve to employ some new marketing tactics to drum up support for the restaurant’s re-launch, which ultimately ended up being a huge success.

Unfortunately, it seems like the Browns had a change of heart later on, and ultimately, they sold the business to a new owner.

Mill Creek BBQ was then replaced with a new eatery called Hickory Jack’s Barbeque, which served “offers BBQ, burgers & other American grub.”

When was the “Up in Smoke” episode from Restaurant: Impossible filmed?

Even though Irvine and his talented team of designers operate on an incredibly tight timeframe, in which they completely transform the businesses that are featured on the show within just two days, the episodes are still often filmed months before they actually air.

This gives the editors and producers ample time to condense all of their footage  for the show’s short-and-simple 40-minute episodes.

This is why, even though the “Up in Smoke” episode first aired in March of 2014, local sources had already reported seeing the Restaurant: Impossible team at the Mill Creek BBQ location as early as December 2013.

What happened after the “Up in Smoke” episode aired?

Not all of the restaurants that are featured on Restaurant: Impossible keep up with all of the changes that Irvine makes during his initial visit.

However, Steve did say in a follow-up interview with Food Network’s Maria Russo that they had seen “a sales increase of exactly 28 percent” when comparing January 2013 (before Irvine’s intervention) and January 2014’s numbers.

This inspired Lisette and Steve to keep all of the changes that Irvine and his team had made to the formerly Western-style interior design of the restaurant and to keep serving a combination of their own dishes and the dishes which Irvine had introduced before the restaurant’s re-launch.

Why did Lisette and Steve sell Mill Creek BBQ?

Lisette and Steve never provided any explicit reasons for their decision to sell Mill Creek BBQ after their appearance on Restaurant: Impossible.

However, Steve did mention briefly in his follow-up interview that they had still been struggling with keeping their food costs down, even after they implemented Irvine’s advice and business practices.

Fortunately, the new owner, John Lenertz, who purchased Mill Creek BBQ from Steve and Lisette in 2018 (four years after the “Up in Smoke” episode aired) did provide some clarity on the matter later on.

He explained that Lisette and Steve had been spending more of their time pursuing their catering business and helping Lisette’s father at the other Mill Creek location, and they no longer wanted to split their time between all of these different projects.