Restaurant Impossible - Valley Inn - OPEN

Valley Inn Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Valley Inn in Palos Hill, Illinois.

Valley Inn was owned by Faye and her husband Frank Snr who bought the Valley Inn forty years ago.

Their sons Dennis and Frank Jnr grew up in the business working at the restaurant for twenty five years.

For decades, the business was booming until Frank Snr sadly passed away three years ago.

Dennis was left to manage the restaurant all by himself and it was hard for Faye to come to the restaurant.

When they first opened, on a typical Friday night, almost six hundred people would queue up for dinner but in recent years they are barely serving forty.

Frank Jr thinks that Dennis has too much weight on his shoulders and it is all too overwhelming for him.

Dennis on the other hand doesn’t want to let the family down.

Robert arrives at the restaurant and the restaurant has a foul smell and his feet are sticking to the dirty floor.

He asks to meet the family to discuss the restaurant.

Robert asks Faye to leave as she refuses to tell Robert how much they bought the restaurant for as she doesn't feel it is necessary for him to know.

She eventually relents and tells them that they bought the restaurant for $200,000.

Frank Snr works part time whilst Dennis is there full time.

They were making $50,000 a month but business has declined to just $30,000.

There is no profit with them making $30,000 they are only paying their bills at their current level of income.

Dennis doesn’t know how to work out the food cost and the labour costs are far too high.

Dennis admits that he is afraid of letting the family down if nothing is done on time.

Robert wants to observe a dinner service to find out the issues of the restaurant.

The staff are failing to do their jobs as the kitchen is filthy and it hasn’t been cleaned.

The customers aren't impressed with the dark decor, dingy carpeting and smell. One customer has old pasta on her dinner fork.

The customers have many complaints about the food and Robert believes that the owners have lost sight of the restaurant.

The service is poor and the food is also poor as well and Robert is sure that the restaurant didn’t operate this way under their father.

Robert calls the food that they serve garbage as most of it is frozen but sees potential in their fried chicken.

Robert speaks with a server about the problems and they feel that the primary cause is Dennis struggling with the loss of his father.

Robert hopes that by transforming the restaurant he will reinvigorate his passion for the business.

Robert meets with designer Cheryl to discuss plans for transforming the restaurant and they discuss ideas.

The staff help to empty the restaurant for the design team to be able to get to work.

The restaurant has been open for forty years so there is decades of neglect to fix and Robert promises to fix the restaurant.

Robert meets with the kitchen staff to discuss ways to keep the kitchen clean.

He asks Dennis to come into the kitchen to show him how dirty it and the disregard for food safety.

Robert tells him that if they don’t keep the kitchen clean and correctly handle food then they could be putting lives at risk by serving food.

He speaks with the family and Dennis admits that the family has made some bad managerial decisions between them.

Robert decides moving forward that all business decisions will be made by Dennis alone and they all agree that would be best.

Robert checks in with the designers and is pleased with the progress that they have made so far with the redesign.

At the end of the first day Robert isn’t sure how much progress he has made and feels like there may be more issues that he hasn’t yet uncovered.

The next day, Robert arrives at the restaurant and first checks in with the designers as there had been a heavy storm overnight.

The design team confirm that they were unable to do any work on the restaurant overnight due to the heavy rain.

They have only been able to complete the floor in the dining room and a few other minor tasks.

The team promise Robert that they will be finished in time for the relaunch that evening.

Robert meets with Dennis and hopes that he has convinced him to stand up to his mother and tell her that he wants full control of the restaurant.

They speak and Faye agrees that she will pass over full control of the restaurant to Dennis.

Robert works on the food next and shows Dennis the type of food that he thinks they should serve in the restaurant.

He also suggests tweaks to their existing menu items and some new practices for prep that are the correct way of doing things.

The menu is to be shortened and the dishes will be made from all fresh ingredients.

New dishes are added to the menu including Crisp Onion Rings and Spiced Ketchup and Slow Roasted Fried Chicken.

Robert teaches both Dennis and cook Tim the new menu items and how to cook using fresh ingredients whilst saving money.

They love the fresh food and say it is much better than the frozen food they used to serve.

He leaves them and they start the prep for the evening’s dinner service.

Robert meets with the servers to discuss improvements that they can make for the dinner service.

They learn how they should be working as front of house and they feel guilty as they know how poorly they have performed in the past.

The design team have finished their transformation of the dining room and it is time for the reveal.

The decor is revealed and it is much brighter with new flooring and chairs.

On relaunch night, the customers love the new decor, refreshing atmosphere and new delicious menu.



What Happened Next at Valley Inn?


Since Robert visited the restaurant, sales are up 85% and that the improvements have brought in new customers.

They have kept some of Robert's dishes on the menu and are still using fresh produce over frozen.

Yelp reviews since Robert visited are very mixed, with as many negative as positive.

The positive reviews highlight great value for money and the negative reviews are mostly for service.


Valley Inn was Restaurant Impossible season 4 episode 12 and aired on October 10 2012.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Previous episode - Whistle Stop

Next episode - Oleander Bar And Grill

This post was last updated in February 2021.

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