The Chianti Cow Restaurant (or you may have known it as Carmine's) was featured on the Jan. 30 episode of Food Network's Restaurant Impossible and some are saying it was one of the most heartfelt episodes they have ever seen.

For those familiar with the popular Food Network show, Chef Robert Irvine and a giant crew, along with local volunteers, come to the restaurant and provide not only a physical and menu makeover to the location but work with the owners, chefs and staff to improve the entire atmosphere and dining experience.

I had the chance to chat with Chef Keith O'Connor, and his wife Lisa, who have owned the Orange County restaurant for 20 years about the experience, one that they called life-changing.

They put us on the map! We are extremely happy.  At first, we were a little nervous putting our lives out there, but it was such a heartfelt episode, and the entire crew were so helpful, like one big family.

The filming took place back in September after two employees of the restaurant worked to submit an application to the show. They were interviewed, spoke with producers, and then a press release informed them it was going to happen. During the two-day experience they were pulled in a million different directions, but the crew was so helpful. Even Chef Irvine, who, if you've ever watched the show, can sometimes have the reputation of being a bit rough around the edges, was totally involved, hands-on with the chefs and went over the menu, met with the staff.

It was nerve-racking but Robert was so approachable, you could ask him any questions you had along the way.

Chef Robert Irvine even connected them to staff from another local Restaurant Impossible site, Joe Willy's Seafood House and Keith and Lisa spoke so highly about the support they received from others who had been through the experience.

Photo Credit: The Chianti Cow (Lisa O'Connor)
Photo Credit: The Chianti Cow (Lisa O'Connor)

How has business been since the Restaurant Impossible changes? Busy! Lisa has been working more than she normally does, and received a lot of great feedback and plenty of hugs, especially after customers viewed the episode.

Lots of new faces.  One of our regular customers that is local and in the restaurant all the time was in recently and said they didn't recognize anyone in the dining room, and that's a great thing for us.

The menu has changed, decor too, and they haven't really made any changes to what the Restaurant Impossible team put into place with the help of the volunteers during the two-day process.  Keith and Lisa have kept in touch with the producers, and Chef Irvine has even checked in with the chefs since the filming and relaunch.

Moving forward what is the plan?

Catching up, hiring more help, and doing some work in the kitchen.

You can check out the Chianti Cow Restaurant at 1483 US Highway 6 Port Jervis, New York and learn more about their Food Network feature here.