JEN PERSAILS, DANIELLE ROLAND and Tammy Marks are the interesting and creative team behind Vernon Upholstery & Sewing, contracted with the popular Restaurant Impossible television series, under Chef Robert Irvine. Little Reid, just one-years-old, is Danielle’s youngest child.

   Restaurant Impossible is heading into its 16th season. Vernon Upholstery became involved with the show during season four.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor

   Vernon Upholstery & Sewing, located on M-71 on the outskirts of Vernon, has been in business for a number of years, taking care of clients and earning a reputation for outstanding upholstery services. A number of people might even be vaguely familiar with the company’s connection to Restaurant Impossible, a reality television series with celebrity chef Robert Irvine. What some might not realize is that the three upholstery artisans running the business are actually regular contractors on a show that is now filming its 16th season (due out early next year). Those three include Danielle Roland, Jen Persails and Tammy Marks – and interestingly, the business would never have happened if it weren’t for Roland and Persails detesting their employment at a fabric retailer in Burton. When an aunt invited them to Minnesota for a crash course in upholstering, Roland and Persails used their tax return money and invested in the trip. They haven’t looked back since, recognizing the need in the market for upholstery businesses, they returned to Michigan, hung up their shingle and Vernon Upholstery & Sewing took off. Add to that the chance connection with Lynn Kegan, one of the regular designers for the television show, bringing Roland and Persails into the Restaurant Impossible family, and the business that started as sort of a desperate whim merged into a much larger, nationwide endeavor.

   In short, Restaurant Impossible is a show that involves Irvine assessing the problems with a local, hard-luck restaurant and then creating a plan involving fresh décor, a thorough cleaning, menu reduction and improvements and even marketing strategies, all while retraining owners and staff in an effort to salvage a failing business. Irvine, the production crew, designers, contractors and a team of volunteers then coordinate work with a budget of $10,000 in a two-day period to save the restaurant and help the employees.

   In actuality, according to Roland, Persails and Marks, tear down on a site often begins at 1 p.m. and then the business is open for a dinner crowd by 6 p.m. the following day. Both the physical and mental stress is immense.

   Marks joined in with the women when they relocated the business to the M-71 location from downtown Vernon. That relocation happened five years ago with a grand opening planned during a blizzard – almost nobody showed up. Marks and her husband, Bryan, are the owners/operators of the Great Lakes Family of Companies, where Vernon Upholstery is now housed. Friendships and working relationships were formed and soon Marks was on the road with the other two. She trained as she went. The schedule, along with the other stresses, is considerably difficult. Somehow, all three women manage to maintain the home businesses and juggle family matters, often from out-of-state locations.

   Currently, the three have five shows to shoot in a row: around two per month. The locations will become a bit of a blur between Louisiana, Florida, Tennesee, Ohio and Missouri. They travel from restaurant to restaurant and state to state, returning home to catch up, before hitting the road again.

   Some people might ask why? Roland, Persails, and Marks, now often referred to as the “Upholstery Girls,” will share that it is mostly about saving the restaurants and helping the people involved. They feel privileged to be able to provide their services to this positive effort, admitting that they often form relationships with the restaurant owners, too. Assisting others in desperate times has come to be central to their continued inspiration to be part of the Restaurant Impossible family and they are grateful for the opportunity.



The Upholstery Girls Helping Rescue Restaurants was last modified: December 9th, 2019 by Karen Elford