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 (252)

  1. divebuddy says:

    We were not aware that Robert had visited Pier West to lend assistance … and it has needed assistance from "day one" … in spite of its lovely location. At any rate, we stopped by this evening for a glass of wine at the bar and ordered the perch sliders. They were awesome!! We read about Robert's involvement in reading a short clip in the Twin Lakes Report after we got home. Now we need to go back to check out the new décor of the restaurant. We truly wish them success.

  2. Rey says:

    It's horrible that many are beating up Chip, mom, dad, etc… Nobody knows these folk or what's going on in their lives…how judgmental!
    Irvine went in, assisted with change and gave them the tools…we'll see what happens, but it's up to them. it's their business in more ways than one. I wish them the best.

  3. nauseous4379 says:

    (continued)
    his designer comes in and is astounded by the ambiance buy immediately has a plan on how to transform the pace with 10K and 24 hrs.–> Tom the builder shows up with his crew of 50+ and goes to work emptying and demolishing the place–>Robert creates a menu and by magic the clowns in the kitchen now are able to cook an entire menu even though he only creates 2 dishes on air–> next day is miracle day–> new interior–> kitchen staff can now cook and usually by that night the staff in kitchen has been expended mysteriously— owner's come back to see their Restaurant which has been transformed–> hundreds of people have shown up when before they were lucky if they got a dozen–> big celebration and patrons are all thrilled.

    This show is a scam. It looks like the transformation has taken weeks of planning… Tom the builder owns a construction company, and there is no way that the place was done over in two days- that includes kitchen and renovation.

    • Kari says:

      Hmmm…
      Don't you think the customers show up with the possible chance to be on Food Network Station TV show and eat a free dinner?

    • Non-Linear Editor says:

      Let me think… 24 hours in a day, 44 minutes in a TV show. Could it possibly be that there is a lot of stuff going on either A) behind the scenes, or B) edited out? No. Of course not. Such technology can't POSSIBLY exist!

    • Camille says:

      All of the shows and their locations are pre-screened and everything is organized before they start shooting. That's a given. It would be "Restaurant Impossible" otherwise.

  4. nauseous4379 says:

    I've seen several of these shows and the format is usually the same: Robert enters–> looks around and makes a look like he is disgusted—> thanks owners for letting him into the restaurant–> owner's are on point of despair/need of psychiatric medication—> restaurant is going bankrupt and owners are fighting with each other–>Robert asks for a service–> food is disgusting–> Chef Sadist Robert makes hostile comments and berates owners and for poor management –> visits the kitchen the source of disgusting food–> usually it is filthy, often with vermin, and managed by a cook who can't cook–> Robert makes a list of what has to be fixed which is everything–>this is followed by a Robert mediated psychotherapy session–>

    • Brent says:

      Yes. Welcome to television. It's called entertainment and patterns work in series television. Otherwise viewers get confused. Not a very positive thing to say about people who watch television, but it's true.

      • nauseous4379 says:

        Yes, but it's not that obvious. The show might come off better without the annoying histrionics and amateur psychoanalysis. Really bad psycho-drama.
        Agree?

        • Raiderfan in CA says:

          Agreed… but, like there are many other shows out there that aren't worse? Garbage like the Kardashians, Flavor Flav, Honey Boo Boo, The Bachelor, etc… TV these days is nothing more than just preying on people's need to satisfy their voyeuristic needs or getting a thrill out of seeing other people go through unnecessary drama… RI is actually one of the few reality shows that has some sense of creativity and/or re-designing. I can do without some of the "therapy" sessions he has, but I do enjoy seeing the makeover part of it… But, seeing that most TV shows center around money & ratings, it's the drama, tears, emotional stuff on the show that the viewers like… so, whether some of us want to see it or not, as long as it attracts viewers, I'm sure the RI people will keep the format as is…

    • EatBetterNotMore says:

      I was actually surprised at one thing on this episode. Robert actually complimented several of the dishes during his tasting. I have rarely heard him even say a dish was edible, let alone well prepared and tasted good. It wasn't until he got to some of the dishes that had Chip's input that he started having problems with them (e.g., the frozen, pre-made foods).

    • seansgrdma says:

      Obviously you haven't seen the shows where he likes the food, and the kitchen is clean! If you don't like the show, turn it.

  5. MattfromWA says:

    Chip didn't come off as the most likable person Robert has met, but I am happy things seem to be going well for him. Give the man credit: he is the first person in some time to not backslide on the menu that Chef Robert created and bring back junk that the 'regulars' missed or some other b.s. Good for Chip and the Pier West.

  6. Melissa says:

    There are so many more deserving people out there that need Robert's help. These are bunch of rich people that can afford to hire a good manager and pay an interior decorator. I think the producers need to do a better job finding restarants that really need help but can't affor it.

  7. Badger Eyeballs says:

    Back in Oct. 2007, this place was called J. FitzWoody's Lakeside Grill. The dad noted that several professional managers had run this location, and failed. I get the impression this site has had more name changes than stage actresses have costume changes. Add to that the site is dozens of miles from even a US highway, much less an Interstate, plus there are no tourist attractions within 10 miles. In short, there is no customer base other than the approx. 5000 locals.
    Throw in parents and a managing son that have NO restaurant experience, and failure is guaranteed.
    I agree with the comment "…put a match to this place." Bad location, compounded with bad ownership and bad management.
    Sounds like a tax write-off to me……jes sayin……

    • Learn to read says:

      Your "impression" is way off. It was Fitzwoody's the Pier West – two names.
      It's ON A LAKE, nice tourist town – near Lake Geneva, a very big tourist and high dollar draw.
      It's near several towns and the Fox Lake "Illinois Armada" area.

      Ever hear of Chicago? Twin Lakes isn't far from there. Try Google Maps! ;-)

  8. Deborah Smith says:

    Hopefully someone at Food Network reads this comment.
    This has been my second day watching and I am completely disgusted with Chef Roberts arrogance and staged rage. He is an unashamed narcissist who consistently refers to the work that his team is busily engaged in as all of the work the "he" has left to do.
    After following Gordon Ramsey and his two series, it is apparent that once again, juxtaposed to a true professional, a blowhard will show himself every time. I promise you, that was the last episode of KI that I will suffer through, and I encourage the rest of the foodies who have an appreciation for the English language and propriety to steer clear of the affront of Robert (for immature) and Kitchen Impossible, better stated, "Watching Impossible".

    • Brent says:

      Good riddance. Do you honestly think that "someone at Food Network" will read your comment and say "My god, we've been fools. This show must change!" Name someone who stars in a television show who does not have some degree of narcissism. But I cannot fathom how you can begin to compare Gordon Ramsey and Robert Irvine – unless it's because they are both on television.
      Please stop watching. For the rest of our sakes.

    • lesscan says:

      Youre welcome to use your remote and change the channel!

    • Important1 says:

      Deborah, hopefully you read this comment. Get over yourself. I think you may be the real narcissist if you actually think your opinion carries any weight. This show gets great ratings. That is what the people at FN are paying attention to.

    • Dindbar says:

      Blowhard much Deborah?

    • desi says:

      Dear Debbie,
      Change the channel
      No one cares
      Get over yourself
      And last but not least….please remove stick from your a$$

    • Eric says:

      Debby (can I call you Debby?),

      You need to watch the show more and watch the behind the scenes show. There is a lot of editing and similarity in plots, but what they do is quite impressive, and Robert has a right to be arrogant. However, he is also a very caring person who really knows how to cut to the root of the problem. You have a lot of inner rage for a television watcher. I usually don't waste my time commenting in places like this, but you really have this wrong. Of course, they play up his fury, and it appears to be too easy. But that's tv drama, and there is a lot of work and people working well into the night that you don't see.

    • Nischka says:

      You´re saying Robert Irving has staged rage…then compares him with a "true" professional like Gordon Ramsay? Because Gordon sure doesn´t play the cameras AT ALL.
      That´s a laugh.

  9. Deborah Smith says:

    One more thing…Robert Irvine is yet again proof that, "Muscles do NOT make the Man". If anyone is interested in specific examples of his poor use of of the English language, his misdirected ire at the clients, and his boorish behavior, feel free to ask.

  10. Guest says:

    Yeah, lets give a spoiled 42 year old $10,000 plus, while we have people starving on the streets. I'm about ready to stop watching FN shows forever! What are we teaching kids?

    • Todd says:

      This is probably the dumbest post I have ever read.

    • Scotty says:

      Well instead of watching TV why don't u go feed the homeless. When was the last time u gave more than just words to serve someone. Maybe instead of paying all that money for cable why don't you cancel the service and give the money to a homeless person each month. Your rationalization falls way short of a point to be made

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