Married couple David Wilmott and Darnell Morgan, co-owners of the successful Kennesaw, GA restaurant “Forks & Flavors,” will step onto the national stage during their television debut on the May 12 episode of “Restaurant Impossible” on the Food Network.
The Chef Robert Irvine-hosted reality show, now in its 19th season, works to turn around restaurants that are facing impending demise within 48 hours on a $10,000 budget. On day one, Irvine assesses the business by observing the staff and kitchen during a full service. He then updates the menu and makes aesthetic changes to the restaurant in preparation for the grand reopening the following day.
But there’s one thing that separates “Forks & Flavors” from the majority of restaurants in crisis that have appeared on the show; they are thriving.
The twice-married gay couple who first appeared in a feature story on The Reckoning in March 2021, says they experienced a significant increase in business after their story was published, with old and new customers clamoring to experience their cuisine or to get the tea on their unique relationship journey directly from the source. So when Morgan says the Food Network contacted them in August 2021, to apply to be on “Restaurant Impossible,” instead of the other way around, it’s not surprising.
“We filled out the application and then we didn't send the video or any of the other paperwork they needed,” said Wilmott. “And we got busy. And then the holidays came. In early January, they reached back out, and we said, okay, we’re going to do it.”
Within three days of submitting their application at the network’s request, the couple says producers and designers from “Restaurant Impossible” were inside their restaurant planning the forthcoming renovation inside an app that will be featured on the show. Less than two weeks later, their appearance on the reality show was confirmed, and the staff was being interviewed.
“They were all excited to do it as well, too,” Morgan recalls of their staff. “But we also told them we won't see your audition. Tell them the truth. Don't try to talk us up just to try to get us on the show. If you tell the truth, we'll get on the show. We're not in crisis, but we're not perfect,” he said.
They may not be perfect, but that hasn’t stopped Morgan, a former nurse, and Georgia Army National Guard soldier, from expecting perfection from his staff. It becomes clear, after engaging Morgan in conversation about his management style, why producers named the episode “My Way Or The Highway.” His husband has a more explicit explanation.
“Because he's an asshole,” Wilmott says jokingly, with an underlying tone of seriousness. “Sometimes he just has no filter. But I think at times he's a little overzealous with some of his responses and some of his actions. And then he has to regroup and think about it after the fact,” he adds. “I think the title of this show is fitting, but I do think it could come across as a bad taste in America's mouth.”
Morgan doesn’t completely disagree with his husband’s assessment of his management style or why he’s the inspiration for the show’s title.
“It is very much so me. It is a reflection of what goes on here day to day. I'm very passionate about everything that I do, and I'm very confident in every decision that I make. And if I say something, it needs to be done,” Morgan said.
Wilmott admits that his husband is right 98% of the time, and although his delivery can be combative and unsustainable long-term, temporarily, it works.
“People can only take so much of that,” said Wilmott.
“I’ve never had anybody walk out,” Morgan pushed back. “You have to have thick skin, but a soft smile to work here. You have to be able to roll with the punches, but deliver the punches back as well.”
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