Restaurant Revisited: Something’s Fishy at Joe Willy’s Seafood House

by in Shows, April 14th, 2013

Robert IrvineJoe and Dena White, owners of Joe Willy’s Seafood House in Fishkill, N.Y., looked to Robert Irvine to save not only their restaurant but their family too, as the stress of their declining business had put a load of frustration and tension between them. It was up to Robert to hone in on the most-critical issues plaguing Joe Willy’s and work with his Restaurant: Impossible team to attempt to fix them in only two days and with just $10,000. He quickly learned that many of the restaurant’s problems stemmed from its poor-quality food, made by Joe, the head chef, so he focused his efforts on implementing an improved menu that Joe could execute with ease. After 48 hours of renovations, Joe Willy’s reopened to a dining room full of guests with Joe and Dena at the helm, now working harmoniously. We checked in with Dena a few months after the transformation to find out how Joe Willy’s is doing.

Since its Restaurant: Impossible experience, the restaurant has enjoyed a significant boost in business, Dena says, explaining that “sales have tripled to quadrupled at times.” Since they’re now making a profit, Dena notes that it’s “much easier to pay bills, rent and staff, and make improvements,” and says that they’ve begun to catch up on their debt.

Diners and management alike have been wowed by the changes in decor in the dining room, particularly the bar that Robert added. It’s perhaps one of the most-important renovations to take place at the restaurant, Dena tells us. “Not only is the bar one of the keys to our success, but it brings in extra cash.” She adds that the new sign is likely responsible for drawing in first-time patrons.

Robert’s custom menu, too, has garnered rave reviews from guests, who especially enjoy the Pan Seared Scallops and Shrimp Topped Salmon. Dena adds, however, that customers “were also demanding that [they] bring back items on [their] ‘old’ menu,” so the eatery now features a combined list of offerings.

Joe has yet to pursue culinary training, but Dena tells us that he “finds himself watching Food Network almost every night when he comes home.” He’s embracing a more proper leadership role, delegating tasks to staff and tempering inappropriate outbursts, and recently he “got everything fixed” in the kitchen, which now features a brand-new dishwasher, according to Dena.

Dena has reduced her hours at her other job to just one shift per week, and she and Joe have enjoyed more time to themselves, as they’ve decreased the restaurant’s operating hours. “Our decision to close for lunch Tuesday through Thursday has given us a little more time for us,” she says. “We feel a little more human.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Sweet Tea’s Restaurant & Catering (March 24)
Soup to Nuts Diner (March 17)
Caseyville Cafe (March 13)
Maniaci’s Italian Restaurant (March 10)
Dinner Bell Restaurant (February 27)
Nanny Goat’s Cafe & Feed Bin (February 20)
Sapori D’Italia (January 23)
Windseeker Restaurant (January 16)
Whiskey Creek Steakhouse (January 2)
Rising Sun Bistro (December 19)
Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Missouri (December 9)
Bronk’s Bar and Grill (December 5)
Rohrer’s Tavern (November 28)
Poco’s on the Boulevard (November 21)
Oleander Bar and Grill (October 17)
Valley Inn (October 10)
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)

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Comments (193)

  1. Elizabeth says:

    We watched the show, and thought the new design was amazing. If we were in the area, we definitely would visit to check it out!

  2. Hannah says:

    I was also appalled by the behavior of Joe. The way he treats his wife is simply awful. She should divorce on grounds of cruelty. The way he kept nagging her to tell what he got her for Christmas was despicable. No one cares what you got her when you openly treat her in front of everyone like she's some sort of indentured servant. What a classless loudmouth this guy was. And what an ego! He has never had any culinary training or ever worked in a kitchen but he buys a restaurant and makes himself head cook. What a control freak jerk.

    • Sharon says:

      Hannah, I so agree with you. I am concerned because Dena is in a horrible relationship and has modeled to her girls that this is what to expect from a husband and to her son that this is how to treat a wife. She works two jobs and never once did he give her credit. He is happy when she says she'll give 120%. He is rude and self-centered and a rather disgusting person to watch. As a therapist, I would diagnose him with Narcissistic Personality Disorder-this man depserately needs professional help and I do not mean a chef to teach him how to cook. He is running his family in the ground emotionally and financially but has no concern for them. And Dena needs help too to increase her self-esteem. How sad to see this and how horrible for the kids to see their parents' dysfunction. A happy ending? Dena gets helps and moves on to someone that appreciates her and all of them leave Joe with his fish.

  3. gary porter says:

    The make over was BEAUTIFUL. Loved it.

  4. THOMAS DEIKE says:

    JOE willys,i just watched the episode of ri,and i wish you guys all of the sucess now and in the future!! what i myself has learned along the way in life is that if anyone is (NOT) willing to change for the better of everyone concerned you will go down like the titanic trust me on that..I would luv to come see your place sometime god bless you all,and no floundering,luv one another trust each other and always srtive to be better than anyone else,thats when you all pass the test…sincereley thomas deike,grand jct co…

  5. David A Nemeth says:

    I lived up there a long time ago. That building has been a steakhouse, chinese and italian. It is so nice to see the old place fixed up and running the way it deserves.

  6. Lou Iuzzini says:

    We have been to Joe Willy's twice since the make over.
    The decor looks great and makes you feel welcome.
    The servers were friendly and accommodating.
    The food was hot and fresh. The portions were large.
    Joe Willy's has become my first choice for fresh seafood.
    Joe Willy's also offers Italian inspired meals for those who aren't into seafood.
    We highly recommend this Restaurant.

    Lou, Sandy & Anthony Iuzzini

    • Impossible_Fan says:

      That's great to hear Lou. I thought this episode's makeover was pretty nice, and would like to try it if I'm in the area.

    • Steve says:

      This may be my favorite comment in this section. I'm glad you're supporting the restaurant and that they're doing a good job.

  7. Joni says:

    I live a few miles from this restaurant and never knew it was even there…..if this place is behind a family waterpark it would make sense to be family & budget friendly….the prices for food in the waterpark is CRAZY……it would be nice to hop right over and grab some good food at good prices. Hey….I'm just a Mom who loves good food…..I'm just sayin'.

  8. Alota Fagina says:

    Good for you joe and family!! Wishing you all much success!!

  9. Nick says:

    Daughter Stephanie is smokin hot

  10. i wish them the very best

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