By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – On Wednesday afternoon, I spent an hour helping other volunteers build a chandelier for Wednesday night’s grand reopening of Woody’s restaurant.
In case you’ve had your head stuck in the sand, the cast and crew of the Food Network show “Restaurant: Impossible” have been in Tupelo since Monday revamping Woody’s under the direction of Chef Robert Irvine, who had two days and $10,000 to redo the restaurant’s decor and menu.
If they would have opened on schedule at 7 p.m., it would have been a Christmas miracle. The restaurant opened around 8 p.m.
In the first room I entered, a dozen people were frantically painting chairs white.
“No, no, no,” the head designer said to the volunteers. “Do you remember what I told you? Elegant. We’re looking for elegant.”
A room away, Irvine sat on a bar stool with a computer in front of him. He and some of the crew mulled a catch-phrase for Woody’s – Tupelo’s newest steakhouse? Tupelo’s oldest steakhouse? How about Tupelo’s favorite steakhouse?
“Sexy,” Irvine yelled. “Make it sexy. Sexy.”
I jumped at the sound of his voice. Dressed in his quintessential black T-shirt and jeans, he looked much less imposing in person than he does on “Restaurant: Impossible.”
But he still scared the pants off me.
“Are we painting chairs?” he yelled. “We open in three hours.”
When I jumped, a kind woman came over to me and whispered, “When he yells like that, what he really means is thank you.”
Eventually, I was led to another room where a group of people were gathered around two huge chandeliers. At least, they were supposed to be chandeliers. At 4 p.m., they looked like a pile of sticks.
Everywhere I turned, people were working. One guy was putting stain on the hardwood floors. Another was painting the ceiling. All the walls were wet with paint. Electricians were bumping into one another. Black plastic hung everywhere, separating rooms.
It was just like the TV show.
And that surprised me.
I figured that all the yelling, the drama, the last-minute paint jobs were just for show. But that’s really how this thing operates.
Every few minutes, someone would announce the deadline: Three hours until we open, two hours and 50 minutes until we open.
The volunteers would just put their heads down and keep on working.
I tried my hand at helping with a chandelier, but my ineptness was soon apparent. The head designer did not look happy with my work.
After an hour, the smell of paint and floor stain and other chemicals got to me and I made a quiet exit.
I hope all their efforts paid off.
The show will air in the spring.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.