Food & Drink

December 31, 2013

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine’s eat! closing on Hilton Head Island

A celebrity chef whose Food Network show specializes in saving restaurants from failure is closing one of his own.

A celebrity chef whose Food Network show specializes in saving restaurants from failure is closing one of his own.

Robert Irvine’s eat! will shut its doors Wednesday on Hilton Head Island after more than four years of business.

Irvine was not available for comment Monday, but a spokesman said the British chef decided earlier this month not to renew the restaurant’s lease, which ends in January.

The spokesman said Irvine’s increasingly busy schedule made it impractical to continue overseeing both his island restaurant near Wexford Plantation and his Bluffton eatery, Robert Irvine’s Nosh, which opened in January 2012 in Tanger Outlet Center 2.

“Managing two concepts on the road was challenging,” spokesman Dan McLean said.

“He’s on the road 340 days a year, filming three episodes (of “Restaurant: Impossible”) a month, doing live touring shows, and shooting his new show,” he said, referring to Food Network’s “Restaurant Express,” which premiered in November.

McLean said eat! was turning a profit and was well-received by customers. The decision to close boiled down to a lack of time for the restaurateur, who is a part-time island resident.

“When he opened eat! he lived in South Carolina full time,” McLean said. “Now his permanent residence is in Tampa, and he’s just never home.”

Though the eat! location is closing, the restaurant’s concept might live on, McLean said.

Irvine is considering adding eat! dishes to his Nosh menu. The additions are still in the works and would not happen until early next year, McLean said.

Diners seeking one last meal at eat! can attend the restaurant’s farewell party on New Year’s Eve.

Tickets are $80 and include a five-course meal, live entertainment, late-night breakfast and champagne.

A hostess at the restaurant could not confirm Monday whether Irvine would attend the party.

Irvine has starred in the Food Network show “Restaurant: Impossible” since 2011. In each episode, he’s given the mission of rescuing a failing restaurant. With the assistance of designers, Irvine can spend only $10,000 and must be finished redesigning the menu and renovating the restaurant in two days.

He has also appeared on the Food Network’s “Dinner: Impossible,” “Worst Cooks in America” and “The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs.”

Before becoming a TV star, the buff Brit cooked with the British Royal Navy, trained U.S. Navy chefs in the White House and worked in kitchens in Las Vegas hotels and casinos.

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