'America's Next Great Restaurant' Recap: What Not to Serve Kids 101

Maressa Brown

grillbillies america's next great restaurantEating out with your kids can be a challenge. You want to please their own at-times finicky taste, as well as your own, and usually do so affordably and efficiently. That's why fast casual restaurants, like Chipotle, tend to be a safe bet. And that's why, on last night's America's Next Great Restaurant, the investors wanted to test the remaining contestants' ability to appeal to the littlest -- but very important and vocal! -- demographic: Kids. The restaurateurs had to come up with and cook up a kid-friendly menu item, as well as a kids' meal toy, which was then brought to life by a product development agency.

But from the word "go," Greg and Krystal (Grill'Billies) seemed to be having an exceptionally difficult week. Their chef, Brendan, was having some kind of control-freak moment, arguing with Krystal on her ideas for the kids' meal. He said no to a turkey burger and wanted to do a steak kabob instead -- yep, steak plus sharp kabob stick and all ...

As if that weren't bad enough, he later spilled half of their food on their way to the pod for serving. When it came time to sample the remaining kabobs, Curtis said the meat was horribly dry, and it was some of the worst food he's eaten during the entire competition. You already see where this is going, right?

But Greg and Krystal weren't the only ones who were in the doghouse for their stabs at kiddie cuisine. Sudhir (Spice Coast) tried to do an Indian slider-style burger, and Bobby Flay's precocious 14-year-old daughter, Sophie, said it was too mushy, while another child said, "Spice Coast is just too out there!" Drrr ... I found this frustrating, because I love the concept, and I think America could use a quick casual Indian restaurant. It's not something that everyone is open to currently, but it could grow on them. (Much like Mexican food did in the past 50 years.)

But Indian is an especially difficult cuisine to make for kids, who usually prefer blander flavors. Because of that, the investors (namely Bobby) seemed really concerned that Sudhir's concept wouldn't appeal to the mainstream. (Uh, hello, guys -- didn't anyone think of that weeks and weeks ago when they first put Sudhir in the top 10?) I was pleased to see that Steve Ells had his back, though, arguing that kids would learn to love Indian, like they loved to learn Mexican from Chipotle. That's what I'm sayin'.

Jamawn (Soul Daddy) served waffles with turkey bacon and chicken, which the investors said really lacked nutritional value. But when arguing who to keep and who to ditch this week, Bobby backed him up -- saying he's the Real McCoy. Everyone else was equally drawn to his passion, but they were concerned about his business sense.

Joey made turkey meatball sliders and got the most silver coins by a landslide -- the kids LOVED his concept. Even Sophie Flay gave him the biggest compliment of the day. And Stephenie (Harvest Sol) also scored big by serving chicken pita with sweet potato chips and a nectarine phyllo "pie," all of which looked delish and perfect for kids!

But in the end, it was clear that Grill'Billies was not only at the mercy of their chef, but they're horrible at communicating with one another! They have power-trippy mind games, which they actually admitted to! (For instance, Greg said something like, "Oh, Krystal thinks she's in charge, but I make all the decisions behind her back!" Uhhh, what an AMAZING argument for getting people to invest millions of dollars in your business.) Steve summed it up perfectly by saying he was concerned about putting his money into an organization that has such dysfunction. No kidding. Clearly, their little New American grill soap opera was a recipe for disaster, and the investors were wise to cut them from the competition.

Now, only four restaurants remain. Gettin' down to the wire here, people!

Who of the final four do you think has what it takes to end up with a national quick-casual chain?


Image via NBC

Read More