With cameras rolling, Food Network host Robert Irvine swung open the door and welcomed Tom Krukemeyer to his own restaurant.
Irvine had Krukemeyer, his son Tommy and daughter Kelly close their eyes as he led them inside for the big "reveal." The door swung shut with only two cameramen following.
We'll have to wait till the show airs Nov. 2 to find out their reaction.
Krukemeyer, bound by a gag order, couldn't talk about the intense two-day makeover of the Mad Cactus' menu and decor at the grand reopening Tuesday night.
He offered up only one word for the experience. "Brutal," he said, shaking his head.
Big Night in Strongsville
Meanwhile, cars circled the jammed parking lot and a line of diners waited up to two hours to get their first look. Patrons with 6 p.m. reservations finally took their seats around 8.
"We wanted to see the new menu and the new decor," said Diane Mocniak of Strongsville, who is a regular at the restaurant. "I know they have to keep the chicken wings."
But neither the popular wings, nor the ribs, nor the fajitas were on the new, scaled-down menu, which offers seven appetizers and 11 entrees, including a few Tex-Mex meals -- soft tacos, quesadillas -- and some more standard fare, like seared flank steak, spiced ribeye, grilled mahi mahi and a mesquite grilled chicken sandwich.
Gone, too, is the lunch buffet, replaced by a salsa and toppings bar for diners to customize their meals.
Cameras filmed guests as they ate, and some were asked to talk about their meals. Several gave rave reviews to the mahi mahi, which one man called "spectacular.
"As long as that's still on the menu, I'm going to be coming back here," he said.
But others missed the old place.
"There's no way the wings aren't on the menu," one man said in disbelief.
"Bet they're on the menu tomorrow, though," his friend predicted, off-camera.
A Lighter Look
Inside, a $10,000 makeover has given the Mad Cactus a brighter, airier look. Gold-ish wallpaper has been replaced by white walls with dark brown accents.
The patterened carpet is also gone, replaced by wood-look flooring. Small cactus plants sprout from stones in planters around the perimeter of the dining room.
Local media wasn't allowed to take pictures inside the restaurant Tuesday night so as not to spoil the surprise when the episode airs.
But the once-cluttered lobby is now bare, with the gumball machines missing and the merry-go-round horse now sitting on the sidewalk outside the door.
In Restaurant: Impossible, Irvine spends two days at a struggling restaurant, critiquing the menu, staff and decor, then revamping all three.
Supervising producer Jill Littman said the Mad Cactus episode is tentatively slated to air Nov. 2 on the Food Network.