Restaurant Impossible - McShane's - CLOSED

McShane's Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits McShane's in East Syracuse, New York.

McShane's is owned by Cindy Baker and is known for a signature chicken dish.

Cindy had always wanted to own a restaurant and her brother Kenny runs a successful restaurant so she asked him to help her.

She struggled to finance the restaurant as she was a single mother so she asked her brother to invest.

Kenny invested $100,000 and Cindy invested $150,000.

When they first opened business was excellent but five years ago the business saw a downturn of around 30%.

The local economy saw a decline and manufacturing jobs were lost and the contractors made up 30% of their business.

The loss of customers saw them cutting corners with food quality and the decor fell into disrepair.

To keep the restaurant open Cindy refinanced her home, cashed in her life insurance policy and borrowed further money from her brother.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and the first thing he notices is the smell at the restaurant.

He also sees that it is dirty and unwelcoming and he thinks the smell is the dirty carpet.

The dining area is also unwelcome and wonders how any customers could relax in there.

Robert speaks with Cindy about the restaurant and discovered that she was manager of a travel agency before owning the restaurant.

She bought the business for $250,000 and the business makes $36,000 a month and she pays herself just $100 a week.

Robert is surprised they are struggling as he thinks they have a great location with roughly 25 hotels in the area.

Robert wants to observe a service and invites a number of local hotel concierges and managers.

The service does not go well and none of them say that they would recommend the place to guests staying at their hotels.

Cindy introduces Robert to her mother Helga, who tells him that her daughter needs help.

Robert samples the half chicken and actually likes it and thinks the flavour is excellent.

He isn’t impressed with Cindy tells him that she hasn’t asked her both for help from her brother despite his success with his restaurant.

Robert sees this as a potential red flag that Cindy may not have asked for help due to being too proud.

He gives her the advice not to be too stubborn and ask for help if she needs it, especially asking her brother.

Robert goes into the kitchen and it is disgusting. There is dirt and grime everywhere.

The equipment was covered in old food and the deep fryer was disgusting.

There is uncovered chicken, mold on containers of food and produce stored at the incorrect temperature.

Every health violation you can think of was present in the kitchen and if they got inspected they would have been shut down on the spot.

Robert says that any chef willing to cook in that kitchen has got no respect for their craft or their employer.

He calls the chef and the kitchen staff together to discuss his plans and he decides to call in a professional cleaning team.

Until then he sets up a mobile kitchen in the parking lot whilst the kitchen is unavailable.

Robert meets with his designer Yvette, who tells him that she would need $100,000 to renovate the dining room.

He tells her that she has just $8000 as he has to take $2000 out of the budget for professional cleaning.

The staff help the design team to empty the dining room ready for the renovation.

In the kitchen Robert discovers that the refrigerator condenser isn’t fitted correctly and there is stagnant water pooling where it isn’t draining correctly.

Cindy is embarrassed and needs some positive reinforcement so Robert asks some guests to sample her half chicken against his chicken recipe and they love her chicken.

Robert checks in with the design team and is pleased with the progress that Yvette has made so far.

He meets with Cindy as the cleaners continue in the kitchen and she is overwhelmed and realizes that she needs to change.

Cindy has placed an advert for experienced chefs for the relaunch as the kitchen needs a head chef and has had a number of responses.

Robert asks her to get the cooks in for first thing the next day.

The next day, Robert checks in with the design team and they have made much progress overnight.

The walls have been repainted, half of the flooring laid and they were working on the booths.

Robert goes into the kitchen and is shocked at the transformation after it has been professionally cleaned.

He now feels that they can prepare food in there safely but there is a hitch.

A gas leak was revealed, the gas has had to be shut off and a contractor has been called to fix it.

Two applicants for the head chef position have come in and will be interviewed for the position.

Greg has been loyal to Cindy so she feels that he deserves a shot at becoming the head chef and will audition alongside the other two.

Arthur, David and Greg are put though an interview followed by a cooking test.

They are given an hour to work on a new dish that would be added to the menu.

Robert and Cindy leave to do marketing of the restaurant at the New York State Fair.

They hand out free samples of the fried chicken, which the customers love and promise to attend the reopening.

They return to the restaurant to sample their dishes and Arthur is chosen to be the Executive Chef.

She also encourages Greg to learn from him to improve his own skills in the kitchen.

Robert senses Greg is a little disappointed and gives him a pep talk to give him a boost.

He congratulates Arthur and shows him a dish that he has created for the new menu.

The new menu will have dishes including a Pork Osso Bucco and Buffalo Chicken Wings.

Arthur is happy to learn the new recipes and promises to be ready for when the restaurant opens.

The design team has finished in the dining room and the family and staff are led in to see the new look.

They are overwhelmed by the new rustic look of the restaurant and are shocked at what they achieved in just 48 hours.

On relaunch nights, the guests love the new refreshing decor and enjoy the new dishes on the menu.



What Happened Next at McShane's?


Robert revisits and the restaurant is doing well.

Cindy has kept the menu items that Robert added and the Half Chicken is still the signature dish and their top seller.

McShane's closed in May 2013 with Cindy posting the below on Facebook -

"I would like to personally thank all our loyal customers for supporting us throughout the years! I will be closing McShane's this Friday... I am moving on to a new adventure... Watch for the Chicken Bandit!!! The new Food Truck in town... Coming Soon... Catering still available. Call us at 315-278-3536. Thank you! Cindy xo"

Cindy opened a food truck called The Chicken Bandit.

It appears from their Facebook page that they were unhappy with the location of the restaurant and didn't want to be tied to a single location.

They still serve their signature dishes including their 1/2 chicken and appear to be very successful as reviews are excellent.


McShane's was Restaurant Impossible season 2 episode 13 and aired on November 09 2011.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Previous episode - Mad Cactus

Next episode - Coffee's Boilin' Pot

This post was last updated in December 2019.

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