Location isn’t everything in this laidback Canadian series which attempts to bring restaurants in gorgeous locales back from the brink of failure.
It seems people never tire of watching struggling businesses being brought back from the brink, and so Restaurants on the Edge, new on Netflix after having been acquired from Canada’s Cottage Life network, seems the perfect show for such an audience. In it, chef Dennis Prescott, designer Karin Bohn, and restaurateur Nick Liberato visit five far-flung locations in the hope of renovating restaurants with business models and menus that unfortunately can’t match their sensational views.
That’s the hook of Restaurants on the Edge – from Malta and Hong Kong to Tobermory in Canada, Austria and St. Lucia, its struggling businesses are all in sensational, picturesque locales which have been left to pick up the slack of bad practices. The tone is a gentle, uplifting one, a far cry from something like Kitchen Nightmares, in which part of the pleasure is watching a blotchy nutcase furiously berate everyone. And that’s a problem since screaming chefs and bizarrely delusional restauranteurs make for much better telly.
And there’s another problem: Restaurants on the Edge mimics the focus on aesthetics that have blighted these restaurants in the first place and without any sense of irony. Any actual insight into where the business is going wrong and what might be done to change it is thin on the ground; the overall effect is a bit like those daytime-TV makeover shows, where a host talks to the camera or to various walk-on personalities while a cesspit is magically transformed into a luxury home behind them, just in time for the emotional, life-changing climax. The restauranteurs in question seem a bit dopey at the best of times, so it would have been nice to hone in on not what attracted them to the spot in the first place, which is always obvious, but more on the silly mistakes they’ve made along the way. Again – it’s better telly.
But whatever. I imagine people will enjoy the more laidback and positive vibe of Restaurants on the Edge as opposed to the frantic no-holds-barred style seen elsewhere, even if it gives the show – which only runs for a trim five episodes – a lot less staying power. I guess it’s true what they say about Canadians being nice, but perhaps when it comes to reality television they’re a bit too nice for their own good.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.