Restaurant Revisited: Sink or Swim at Pier West Restaurant

by in Shows, June 16th, 2013

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleDespite the picturesque view from its waterfront location, Pier West Restaurant in Twin Lakes, Wis., couldn’t escape serious issues indoors, among them considerable debt and drab decor. With just $10,000 and two days to work, Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team relaunched owner Chip Walmsley’s business with a new menu and an updated design, plus gave Chip the support he needed to manage the restaurant and the foundation to mend his relationship with his family. FN Dish checked in with Chip a few months after the renovation to find out how the eatery is doing today.

“Business has been great since the filming [of the show]. We have definitely seen about a 25-percent increase in food sales,” Chip tells us. “We are taking things one week at a time … [and] following the standards Robert set up for us.”

Chip says “not one single customer misses the old look” of Pier West, and in terms of the new space’s features, his favorites are “the lighting and the floor.”

The dinner menu, which “is currently the exact same as it was when Restaurant: Impossible left,” has garnered rave reviews from diners, Chip says. “The kitchen staff has had to adapt somewhat to longer prep times, but the difference in the quality and response has made it an easy effort.” They’ve since instituted a children’s menu and are using Robert’s dinner menu to inspire the list of lunch offerings. “I am thrilled people’s experiences here are now positive.” Chips adds, “It’s a treat to walk the dining room now instead of hiding out from complaints.”

While Neal remains in the kitchen, many employees, including Debbie, have left Pier West, according to Chip, who notes that his new staff members “are doing well” and have “signed contracts.” As for Woody and Jeannine, they “are especially excited at their friends’ positive responses.”

Chip tells Dish that he and his father are slowly making progress on their relationship, now attending meetings together with front-of-house management. “I am paying him rent for the first time in six months, so that is a positive.” Chip adds that he’s “getting along well” with Brian, who’s working on menu development and inventory.

Looking ahead, Chip says, “I would like to create a legacy and a business model [my sons] can perhaps carry into the future.” He would consider launching a second Pier West location, but not until the current restaurant runs “perfectly, like a well-oiled machine.” He adds that he’s genuinely “happy,” and that he is”excited to keep things heading in the right direction.” He says he has “a real positive attitude for what is to come.” And he tells Dish: ” I loved the experience I had with Restaurant: Impossible. Being able to go from a nightmare and wondering how and when to close the doors to having a place people love and rave about … is surreal, to say the least.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Pinehurst Country Lodge (June 9)
Bryan’s Smokehouse (May 26)
Wagon Wheel Family Restaurant (May 19)
Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant (May 12)
Smitty’s Restaurant (April 28)
Old World Italian Restaurant (April 21)
Joe Willy’s Seafood House (April 14)
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 (253)

  1. Twin Lakes resident says:

    Servers still waiting to get paid. First round of checks bounced, not given last weeks pay. Terrible management. Keeping servers in the dark and hiding out. Not the way to treat your employees. Stay away from this place!!!

  2. RI Fan says:

    This was the first show where I was not pulling for a happy ending…at least not for Chip. He is 47 year old failure who keeps getting bailed out by his father. No wonder his mother doesn't believe a word he has to say. He comes across on the show as a user.

  3. Cheryl says:

    FYI People do not get free meals. At least not here in Florida. A notice goes in the paper and you have to get reservations which if i recall you also have to pay for! My husband asked me if I wanted to go and I said no way do I want to wait in line for hours! Actually I do not believe "Smitty's" is even in business any more. But considering how filthy it was, who would trust going there now?

  4. Cheryl says:

    What a loser! He is NOT a kid, he is a grown man for god's sake. Dad is a total enabler and mom is not such a cold fish, she knows what her husband has done enabling the son and is done with it. He is a player, manipulator, insincere, and not capable of change until he has to live on his own with no help from mommy and daddy. Maybe then he might appreciate it, or not.

  5. Kay says:

    What the heck is going on with Robert? I am a Robert Irvine fan but after watching him wrap those ribs in plastic, I'm perplexed. That seems so unhealthy to me….why wrap food in plastic and then put it in the oven so that it can leach into the food. I'm very surprised to see Robert advocating this type of food prep.

  6. steviecat says:

    Robert should go back a few months later like all the other help/makeover shows do instead of someone from Food Network merely interviewing the delusional owners. Look how many people ate here and work here and the food still stinks and he's still stiffing his employees. Tabatha goes back to the salons and sometimes finds they've sold out or closed, Willie from Restaurant Stakeout goes back. Why not Robert?? I just don't get it.

  7. Mr D says:

    From the opening minutes when I saw that smirky-faced Chip, I knew he was trouble. Probably led a privileged life; parents didn't reel him in many years ago; got away with manipulating his parents and restaurant staff. His brother turned out to be a person with a bright future, seems happy with his life and looked to be trying to help his family. But you know that wasn't going to be easy – the place (and family) was so dysfunctional.
    Their mother didn't become so extremely negative and judgmental in the past few years – she was this way since who knows when? Most likely why Chip is the way he is. The family dynamic here was uncomfortable to watch.
    It seems amazing that in 2 days RI can turn around a restaurant. You know they have lots of support staff before the show, as well as those "two days" of reconstruction, etc.
    I felt for the chef/cook Neil – and to hear he was "let go"….is puzzling. Same thing for staff leaving – that tells me that Mr. Chip did not change overnight and they weren't going to hang around for more of his BS. Good for them for leaving, I guess. It will be surprising if this place can make it.

    • Roma says:

      You misread. Neal did not leave, but a waitress. Sometimes when things operate better you lose those who may have been getting away with things. Take a positive viewpoint.

    • lorin says:

      I thought the same thing about Chip, but then grew to like him. He seemed to "get over himself" after a few hours. hehe

  8. Margoux says:

    why can't we be positive for once people…..charity begins at home…… I agree however, i wish food network will have a follow through process to really help them succeed……

  9. Marjorie says:

    I thought the renovation of Pier West was one of the freshest, most innovative ones I've seen in the series — but something tells me the restaurant will not make it. Chip doesn't seem to be manager material long-term and it won't take much for Mom to tell Dad to 'throw in the towel'!

  10. That chick says:

    are dear sweet Chip who by the way is 42 years of age sent a nasty text to my dad about me for posting that he fired him, because it makes him look bad… Well he is just going to be so hurt when that text is widely posted online… Maybe this will teach him how to play nice with others.
    And the text say, I quote " Are you for real bro? Somebody better get control of your daughter from posting on every f***ing site on the planet that I fired you for going to her graduation. Seriously? Do you have any clue what is being said out there about me based on that TOTAL BULLS***. I am f***ing furious. Who the f**k is this chick?"
    Now, being 18, and a women, I control myself. And i'm the chick that's being a protective loving p daughter. So Chip, I hope you enjoy this going out!!
    Your's truly- That Chick ;)

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