Restaurant Impossible - Chatterbox - CLOSED

The Chatterbox Windham Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits The Chatterbox Windham in Windham, New Hampshire.

Chatterbox Cafe was bought by Lynn Malone two years earlier after the death of her husband from cancer.

She was a stay at home mom and bought the restaurant with the life insurance money she received.

She paid $200,000 for the restaurant and has invested $300,000 in the restaurant to keep the doors open.

Lynn is now $500,000 in debt after having to invest more money to keep the restaurant open.

She thought the restaurant would bring a reliable source of income for her family but there is now resentment and anger.

Lynn also thought it would give her sons a place of employment but she is close to closing the restaurant.

Her son Shane is currently the head chef at the restaurant and Tristan also works at the restaurant.

Robert arrives and comments that it is a pleasant change as the restaurant is very clean.

The decor isn't awful but it is just a tad boring and doesn't stand out.

He meets with Lynn who tells him that they are a breakfast and lunch place and she says that she went into it blind.

She has spent $500,000 on opening the restaurant and keeping the restaurant open whilst they were making a loss.

She introduces her sons Shane and Tristan to Robert, who say there are issues with consistency and speed.

Chef Shane reveals that he was trained on the job and has no formal training.

Lynn hasn't hired a manager as she thinks it will run itself and she doesn't know her food costs.

The impression given is that she doesn't want to work in the restaurant and it shows as the staff are not disciplined.

Robert observes a lunch service and the customers aren't impressed.

The servers chew gum during service and gather at the counter chatting and gossiping.

One has burnt toast and another thinks the gravy tastes like it is canned.

Robert orders a number of disappointing dishes including a burger made with frozen meat.

He is served an unseasoned chicken parm, paste like pancakes, eggs benedict with greasy hollandaise and a frozen chatter platter.

He finds the cheese sauce disappointing and discovers the recipe is a cheese slice in milk.

In the kitchen Gordon meets a cook who has 30 years experience.

He is forced to cook Lynn's recipes as he is not allowed to make changes.

Chef Shane says that he doesn't season food as the seasoning is on the table.

Robert is astounded but recognises that he doesn't know any better as he is not properly trained but he must change.

Robert doesn't understand why they don't cook from scratch but Shane says he doesn't have the time or training to do so.

Robert takes some time to speak to her sons about the problems at the restaurant.

Tristan is upset and wants to help his mum and Shane is eager to learn how to do things properly.

To demonstrate his point Robert does a taste test for the kitchen with seasoned vs unseasoned food.

For homework he asks him to come up with a new recipe using only fresh ingredients.

Robert catches up with his designer Taniya and she wants to focus on a New England theme.

She plans to create handmade features for the walls and the bar using plastic piping.

After this his next task is to improve communication between the family and encourages them to be honest.

Shane says that his mum Lynne needs to be at the restaurant during service to manage staff as they feel like they are having to do it.

Tristan wants her to step up as a boss too and Lynn wants her sons to come early to the restaurant.

He thinks that they should be putting on a united front and working together at the restaurant.

They reveal that she is at the restaurant at 6am most days hoovering the restaurant.

They think she shouldn't be coming into the restaurant early to clean the restaurant.

The staff who should be doing the cleaning aren't doing it and she isn't disciplining them for not doing their jobs.

Her son thinks that the employees are taking advantage of her but she thinks that her sons are judging her way too hard.

Robert asks the family to write a list of the good things that they like about the restaurant and areas for improvement.

The next day Robert asks them to read the list of good and bad things about the restaurant.

Shane is ready to be committed to the restaurant and Tristan reads his list of good and bad things.

The bad things are no organisation, no management and poor communication with his brother.

The good things are that the restaurant is family run, the customers are loyal and he thinks his mother is very sociable and friendly.

Robert feels like there needs to be one person in charge to manage and discipline the staff.

Shane is put in charge of food costs and food quality and Lynn will be more firm if staff don't turn up.

She says that no one fears for their jobs but that is going to change.

Shane reveals his new recipe, a roasted red pepper alfredo and Robert thinks that it is very good.

The dish is so good that it is going to be added to the menu.

There is a rush to the finish due to delays in laying the floor and they are dring the paint with hairdryers.

In order to help with costs Robert suggests to Lynn that they cut a number of unnecessary costs.

They could cut bags of ice saving $3-5000 a year, advertising $15000 a year and food costs of $20,000 if they cut food costs just 5%.

He tells her that she must know her costs as she should have known how much money they have been wasting.

Robert gives her a last minute pep talk as the deign team are wrapping up the last of the design.

Robert reveals the new dining room to the family and they love the new decor.

On relaunch night, there are some mistakes in plating the food and basic mistakes due to lack of training but they pull it around.

The dishes get out to the customers with a small delay and they love the new food and decor.



What Happened Next at The Chatterbox?


After Robert's visit, reviews on Yelp were mixed.

Lynn has said that the makeover was mostly cosmetic.

They didn't focus enough on managerial skills to help her manage without Robert, which she is now learning on her own.

Chatterbox closed in January 2013 after a truck drove into the restaurant and they decided not to reopen.


The Chatterbox Windham was Restaurant Impossible season 3 episode 2 and aired on February 15 2012.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Previous episode - Moss' Prime Rib & Spaghetti House

Next episode - Anna Maria's

This post was last updated in April 2021.

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