Restaurant Revisited: Valley Inn

by in Shows, October 10th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: Impossible
Valley Inn restaurant in Palos Hills, Ill., is a 40-year-old eatery with a history of success. Recently, however, the restaurant had fallen on hard times, and owner Dennis Ristucci needed Robert Irvine’s help to restore Valley Inn to its former glory. In only two days, Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team tackled a dark, dirty dining space and low-quality food before reopening to a line of hungry customers. We checked in with Dennis to see how his business is doing a few months after its renovation.

Since Robert left, sales at Valley Inn have increased nearly 85 percent. Dennis tells us that the revised menu and updated decor “have drawn new interest from the neighborhood.” Among his favorite aspects of the remodel are the more inviting entry space and improved flooring.

Today, Valley Inn’s menu is a mix of the restaurant’s original dishes and those that Robert created, and Dennis says that “customers like the combination.” Additionally, he notes that the restaurant is no longer using any frozen food. Dennis tells us his staff are “more attentive to customers” and welcome diners “with big smiles and stories about the show.” He adds that “everyone has been doing their part and cleaning, too.”

In a change less obvious to diners but no less significant, Faye, Dennis’ mother, is no longer telling him how to run his business. “My wife and I are making all of the decisions,” he says. Once again passionate about Valley Inn, Dennis believes that his dad “would be extremely proud” of the restaurant’s renovation.

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Whistle Stop (October 3)
The Maple Tree Cafe (September 26)
Michele’s (September 19)
Paliani’s Restaurant (September 12)
Frankie’s (September 5)
Gusanoz (August 29)
Stella’s (August 8)
Italian Village (August 1)
Zandi’s (July 25)
The Main Dish (July 18)
Longbranch Steak and Seafood (July 11)
Horton’s Kids (June 13)
Pollard’s (May 30)
University Grill (May 23)
Ristorante Barolo (May 16)
Pappas (May 9)
Mama Lee’s (May 2)
Pelican Grill (April 25)
Valley View (March 14)

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Comments (98)

  1. experienced says:

    I similar to the invaluable facts you offer you on your content.I’ll bookmark your blog site and look at once more listed here repeatedly.I’m somewhat absolutely sure I’ll realize a lot of new things proper listed here! Decent luck with the upcoming!

  2. rüya tabiri says:

    Valley Inn seems great… thanx for the review

  3. Lynda says:

    I ate at the Valley Inn last year in August..Did not like the service there and did get sick..I am so glad that Robert was able to come to the rescue…Will be back to see the improvement..Thanks Robert

  4. Steve says:

    We went to the Valley Inn last Sunday afternoon, after hearing about the show. We were terribly disappointed. The outside entrance was dirty, and we enetred into a bar area, with six or seven people sitting at the bar, watching a sports program, not eating, just drinking. A hostess led us into the restaurant section – the floor was filthy, the room was dark and uninviting. Light fixtures were missing or not working. Tables were bare wood – no tablecloths or place mats. The whole place smelled like spilled beer. We did not stay to try the food, since the atmosphere was so bad. Did the original owners sell out, or just revert to their old ways?

    • Colorado says:

      Steve, my husband and I ate at the Valley Inn about 2 weeks ago and had almost an identical experience. We entered through the bar which was fairly crowded. We were seated in the dining area where only one other table was occupied. I asked if any of the dishes Robert originated were on the menu and was told "only the onion rings". Huh? I ordered Eggplant Parmesan, and when my dinner arrived the edges of the eggplant were BURNED! I had to call this to the server's attention. (If I were her I wouldn't have served it) I actually took a picture of the dish and wish I could post it here. I wasn't that hungry anyway and told her I would eat what I could. Later she told me that Dennis said he was sorry. No personal apology. No offer of a free drink or dessert. Nothing. Although the bar was full, only one other couple sat down to eat while we were there. You were wise to not eat there. We won't return.

    • Bill says:

      You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.
      Sounds to me as though the fellows running the restaurant/bar are letting their desire for liquor sales overshadow the importance of cleanliness, style and good food. As a result, they will eventually be in the same money loosing business they had before Robert gave them the tips for improvement.

    • nunya says:

      Worst experience ever! Took my parents out to eat at The Valley Inn for their anniversary. Bad choice. They were out of chicken, out of beef, out of portabella, the only food available was burgers and pasta. when ordering our drink and they were out of Pino decided to leave. i do not suggest this place as a place to go. There were a few people at the bar and the bartender was drinking with them very poor customer service.

  5. mygirlfund says:

    the lucky winners, thus you will be immediately experienced and eligible to



  7. lovingbears2 says:

    How hard on this family and business for the passing of the Dad, but how much even harder it must be on the son, to try to live up to the strong memory that everyone there still has? The Dad was the driving force of the restaurant, and the son is his own person. It would be so incredibly hard if not impossible. The mom and the other personnel there need to accept the son/wife team as the management, not compare him continually to his father, as he is now the owner, the boss, and the businessman running this restaurant. The mom said at the reveal, that she knew her son could do this, and I hope she truly meant that, rather than just trying to look good for the show. She would be doing her son so much harm otherwise. She is obviously strong-willed, strong personality, and her son was raised to respect her, but she is disrespecting him if she doesn't give him the confidence and reins to allow him to act as the owner/operator.

    When she challenged Robert's OWN restaurant, to be that disrespectful and rude to someone who is there to HELP? How much more is she to her son? As for Robert's OWN restaurant, I am visiting this week myself in Hilton Head, have reservations for tomorrow night at EATS!, and very plainly in the window is the big A rating from the inspectors! Haven't been to the restaurant yet, but am very excited and have high expectations for dinner tomorrow night-Thru the windows, the decor , from what we saw, looked fabulous- and from what we have heard from all the locals, the place stays packed because the food is that good! Not exactly a place I would be challenging! You go, Robert!

  8. Herbsghost says:

    Necromancy is a sin. Get over it!

  9. Vinny says:

    Good…I dont want you to like me….grow up and face the facts, thats life, everyone wishes there loved one were around for ever, but their not…deal with it like a man….

  10. Luna Ulric-Taylor says:

    I am a liberal democrat who knows how to run a business. Your comment is ridiculous.

  11. Amen Brother! says:

    I love it! Maybe it is time for Robert to do "D.C Impossible"

  12. Susan says:

    Obviously, if you are representing conservative Republicans, they can't spell or put a sentence together very well. What a true idiot!

  13. Herbsghost says:


  14. Macky Daniels Jr says:

    C'mon why be a pessimist like that no point in life thinking and acting negative, be positive and enjoy your existence the best you can.

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