Move over, Cake Boss.
Buddy Valastro isn’t the only Hoboken food service aficionado to be making a name for himself in the reality television realm. Tom Bury, a general contractor and resident for roughly five years, is one of the surprise stars of Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible.”
The program – evidently the network’s most watched show – features renowned chef Robert Irvine and several designers as they travel across the country in an attempt to revive struggling restaurants.
Besides Irvine, Tom Bury is the only other personality to be featured on every episode.
Currently in its fourth season, the show gives Irvine and his crew a $10,000 budget in an attempt to renovate and restore each restaurant in just two days.
“The only reason I keep doing this crazy show is because it really has a big impact on these people.” – Tom Bury
Bury said that Irvine and his designer will survey a restaurant to determine what needs to be fixed, and then come up with a concept for Bury to actualize.
Bury is currently working on a secret project in the Meatpacking District, which will air in the latter portion of the fourth season.
Bury said that making big impacts with limited time and money is always a challenge.
“We try to make a huge change in the restaurant,” said Bury, adding that the difficulty comes in the limiting budget. “We’re constantly [weighing] the impact of each and every dollar.”
Bury also said that the timeframe can create limitations.
“We’ve always had issues with the paint not drying,” said Bury, “where last minute something won’t be dry and we have to change it or cover it; [otherwise] we can’t open the restaurant [on time].”
Bury said that extra time is not allotted in the case of inclement weather.
“We have a lot of issues with weather,” said Bury. “In one show we used a dumpster as a paint booth because we had nowhere else [to paint] and it was pouring [outside]. So I started painting in there.”
Bury added that even though these challenges can often put him down in the dumps, he gets his needed motivation from the positive response his receives from restaurant owners.
“The only reason I keep doing this crazy show is because it really has a big impact on these people,” said Bury. “We really do change these people’s lives.
After earning a degree in architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, Bury started the Division 9 Design and Construction company. The Clinton-based firm specializes in the construction and design of restaurants.
Bury said that he often worked with New York-based designers, who were eventually to appear in various episodes for the show.
“They begged me to come do the [first episode] with them,” said Bury. “We didn’t know how far it would go, and I honestly didn’t think it was going to go anywhere.”
Bury said that the show had initially intended to hire a different contractor per job, which, according to Bury, is “basically impossible.”
“They did another episode without [me] and it really went badly,” said Bury. “So I got another call.”
After Bury’s repeated success, he was eventually cast as a series regular.
“It’s [Irvine] and I and we travel all across the country,” said Bury.
Bury said the show’s success has helped his career. In fact, he is currently preparing for a side project in which he will help network chef Elizabeth Falkner open a pizza restaurant in Brooklyn.
“It’s kind of exciting to meet these celebrity chefs and rub elbows with these people,” said Bury. “My passion is restaurants; it’s great to be able to design and work with these people. It’s just super fun.”
Still misses home
Bury said that despite all the traveling and success of the show, he still misses the appeal of Hoboken.
“I miss Hoboken so much,” said Bury. “I’m not at my apartment as much as I used to be.”
Bury also said he misses many of the establishments in the mile-square city.
“I really took it for granted,” said Bury. “Especially in the summertime, it’s so nice to walk around and be able to get great food, see all the people, and go out to the bars.”
For more on the show, visit www.foodnetwork.com .
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.