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Centre County is Becoming 'Impossible'

by on July 14, 2014 6:00 AM

The Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible" television team recently visited the Autoport on South Atherton Street in State College.

"Hotel Impossible" features former hotel executive Anthony Melchiorri who is reportedly an expert in all aspects of the hotel industry.

Each episode introduces what are usually small hotels or motels that are on the brink of going out of business. Melchiorri comes in, assesses problem areas and makes suggestions for improvement. He often addresses relationship issues among owners, managers, etc., and offers training to the team as well.

Common areas such as the lobby or registration desk are updated and redecorated as well as one guest room (which then becomes the prototype for the owners to redecorate the other rooms). New software or other reservation systems are sometimes brought in to help the business better manage finances. The Travel Channel apparently foots the bill for some of the renovations.

After rumors started going around that Melchiorri and his team were in State College, social media lit up that local businesses like Roeshot Construction were called in to help make the renovations. It was cool to drive by the Autoport during the week the production team was in town and see the flurry of activity and the television crew in the parking lot.

I worked as a waitress in the old coffee shop at the Autoport the summer after my senior year in high school although it was still owned by the Meyer family at the time. It will be fun to see what they've done to the place when the episode airs sometime in the fall.

Last week, we heard that Chef Robert Irvine will be coming to Bellefonte to renovate Mama Lucrezia's Pizzeria and Italian restaurant for the Food Network's "Restaurant Impossible." With a similar premise, Irvine and his team visit a restaurant that is in need of a make-over.

Restaurant owners, their friends or family members write to Irvine and ask to be considered for the program. With $10,000 and two days, Irvine makes upgrades to the restaurant, the menu and, often times, the management of the restaurant. Like Melchiorri, Chef Robert frequently addresses family or relationship issues at the heart of the restaurant's problems.

We are huge fans of Restaurant Impossible so when the call came out for volunteers to help with demolition and construction, my husband signed up and was accepted. He'll take a day off work this Wednesday and hopes to see Chef Irvine in action. We couldn't get reservations for the reveal and re-opening seating that is the highlight of each episode; the restaurant was reportedly booked within minutes of the news about the visit and the make-over being announced.

All we need now is Spike TV's Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue and salty language and celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay and we'll have it all covered.

Reality TV seems to lean toward taking something – a house, a car, a business, a pet, a person – and doing a complete make-over. For fans like me, it gives us hope that even the most "impossible" situations can be turned around. Although the episodes are somewhat formulaic (the experts come in, assess the situation, get mad at everyone through at least two commercials and then everyone is happy at the end) I admit to enjoying the transformation.

If only every situation that is deemed "impossible" could have experts come in and save the day.

The "impossible" possibilities are, as they say, endless.

With all of the goings on about the e-mails and the scandal and the targeting of special interest groups, it seems pretty clear to me that we have enough material to make an "IRS Impossible." While we are at it, we might want to add a few episodes of "Government Impossible." Immigration. Deciding what our role is going to be in the Middle East. Health care. Can our elected officials actually get along and get something done?

"VA Impossible?" Yes, please.

Penn State, ranked as the second most expensive state school for in-state tuition in the nation, just announced that tuition at University Park will be going up almost three percent next year. Would anyone actually watch an episode of "University Impossible?"

Given the discourse of the past several years, I'm betting that if we order a few episodes of Board of Trustees Impossible, people would be excited to watch the experts come in to fix what is broken. Bring in a team and put all the differences in opinion, the secrets and the distrust on the table and film it as the professionals work to heal the conflict.

What about "Increasing Taxes Impossible?" State College Borough Council decides to use their first right of refusal to purchase the old College Heights School with plans to become landlords and lease the building to a group of community organizations that were unable to secure funding several years ago to purchase the old Boalsburg elementary school under a similar plan.

Council makes this decision after hearing experts say it will likely cost over $1 million to renovate it to code and hearing neighbors of the building express concerns about proposed hours of use and increase in traffic. Brought to you by some of the same people who supported that famous SWAP that cost the State College Area School District $10 million or so.

With all of the construction around and hearing that Atherton Street will be under construction for the next six years, maybe we can order a few episodes of "PennDOT Impossible."

I'm not above needing some makeovers in my own life. My dogs are ill mannered. My basement and garage is full of stuff I probably don't need. I'm bossy and I eat too much junk food. My hairstyle, clothes and shoes are decidedly unhip. I sometimes procrastinate and too often forget to filter the thoughts that I turn into words.

Maybe we could all use an episode or two of (Fill In the Blank) Impossible.


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Patty Kleban is an instructor at Penn State, mother of three and a community volunteer. She is a Penn State Alumna. Readers of State College Magazine voted her Best Writer of 2010 and 2012. She and her family live in Patton Township. Her views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State.
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