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Murrells Inlet restaurant gets new life after appearance on the Food Network

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MURRELLS INLET, S.C. -

It's been a tough few years to be in the restaurant industry, and the Hayek family knows firsthand.

They've owned and operated Old World Italian Restaurant in Murrells Inlet for 16 years.

"Not enough to keep us going, that's why we called on the show to come and help us, you know, that was our last resort," Chef and part owner George Hayek Jr. said.

The Food Network's Restaurant Impossible chose the Murrells Inlet eatery for an episode that aired Sunday night, and a visit from celebrity chef Robert Irvine couldn't have come at a better time.

The buzz it created, alone, was enough to boost business.

"Everybody knows everybody here," Hayek said.  "So when they knew they were coming in January, my church knew, everybody knew, everybody buzzing asking 'when are they coming, when are they coming?'"

Customers like Charles Karian and his wife, who ate there before the makeover, noticed several changes.

"I just like the roominess, I like the decor, the colors," Karian said.

Everything is different now from the ambiance to the wait staff's uniforms, and of course the menu.

"Made to order still, but the quality of food, the freshness of salads and meats and fish, it's all weekly, and actually daily," Hayek said.

Chef Irvine cut the menu down from nearly four pages to one concise page.

And the prices are much easier on the wallet, with entrees in the $10 to $20 rage, instead of closer to $30.

Another one of the changes involved giving George Jr. part ownership, placing less of the burden on his parents, Teresa and George Hayek Sr.

So far, the changes seem to be working.

"We went from doing 30 dinners a night to now, doing over 100 dinners a night," Hayek said.

He hopes to hold onto this fifteen minutes of fame – an opportunity he says changed the fate of his family's business.

"This would have been our last year of having a restaurant, so, it was a blessing."

Old World Italian Restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4:30 to 9 p.m..  It's located at 3850 Highway 17 in Murrells Inlet. 

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