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 (255)

  1. Linda and Bob says:

    My husband and I dined here tonight and though in the past we found that the service was wanting, tonight we noticed a vast improvement in the service and ambiance. We were skeptical at first because of our past experience but were delighted in the improvements. The seafood was fresh and the dessert was fabulous. It was apparent that our waitress went out of her way to please. I would recommend this restaurant to friends and family and will return soon..

  2. Dindbar says:

    Please stop posting! No one knows what the hell you are talking about.

    • Used to be a fan says:

      YOU must be the douche I was posting about! I'm commenting on the Pier West restaurant, as this is the comment thread for – DOLT!

  3. Twin Lakes Patron says:

    Went to Pier West 2 weeks ago. Chip is no longer at Pier West. His brother is back and taking over the reins. The new manager whom Chips brother brought in was very nice. In the past they have fired everyone, not paid their staff and constantly had a high turn around. I wish the best for this brother and manager. Chip is a privileged 42 year old boy that will never grow up if his parents do not show him tough love. He was given a tremendous chance to make a go of Pier West, but his immaturity and arrogance proved to show his true colors. He could not make it in the real world when the rubber met the road. I hope his father listens to the mother and cuts him off from everything, he needs to put on his big boys superman panties and grow up!
    Good luck to the new staff and I pray that they will show their staff the value of excellent service and customer service. It starts from the top. Time shall tell.

    • Don Brown says:

      I was just there this Friday, I ordered the skirt steak with chimichuri sauce and sweet potato hash. The food was terrible my steak was cold the hash was severely overcooked and cold. I see no change between this visit and a previous visit, before Restaurant Impossible allegedly changed things.

      • Melanie says:

        You could tell from the episode that Mommy and Daddy Dearest had been treating Chip like a loser and a disappointment his whole life, and the arrogance was how he coped. I'm glad he left, he needs to get as far away from these toxic people as possible.

    • Bags says:

      The restaurant is Closed…New Management Team and Menu coming in the Spring.

  4. Ftgyuh says:

    I like chicken

  5. andy says:

    why does the young designer have huge amounts of makeup on? philippinos are so cute when they go all natural.cheryl,lose the face goo and go you.

  6. fusionlady1 says:

    We were in the Twin Lakes area in August and just had to stop by to actually see a RI restaurant. It was a perfect early evening so we decided to sit on the patio. Average patio, could use a bit of renovation out there, but still comfortable and the view of the lake and the summer sunset was picture perfect. Our server was very attentive and our food came in a timely fashion. Our entrees were good, though the portions did not reflect the rather high prices. No doggie bags necessary. The she crab soup would be worth a return visit if we were in the neighborhood again and if we could ever find this place again. The location even confused our GPS so we made sure we were on our way before it was completely dark out to avoid being totally lost. We were still hungry after finishing our $90 dinner (for 2), but didn't want to spend more money and time for dessert. that.

    • fusionlady1 says:

      I suspected that Chip did not fulfill his contract terms since he was no where to be found on a Saturday evening. However, to our total surprise, a familiar face came to check on us. I never expected to see Brian still there since he has this lucrative career in California, but there he was in the flesh. He spent quite a bit of time with us and shared some interesting insight into Chef Robert and the entire makeover experience, both on and off camera. Pretty much made the trip worthwhile. On the way out we checked out the dining room. Nothing very exciting, but may have been designed to support the pricey menu. The beautiful ceramic and well appointed bathroom actually seemed out of place, and the bar/lounge area looked nicely kept and comfortable. I think Woody and the Mrs. should enjoy their retirement in FL and not sink any more bucks into this business since neither they nor their family seems very interested in keeping it going. Someone mentioned 'tax write-off' – I'd go with that.

  7. twin lakes resident says:

    Their doors are closed!!!!

  8. sibelius says:

    For those who are saying the place is closed . . . it appears this is a seasonal restaurant and they close for the winter. I'm in Texas and will never go to this place, but I did want to make sure people didn't think the restaurant was shut down for good.

  9. Guest says:

    Closed. Never had a good experience at Pier West. ood riddance!! Under new ownership. Will be called Dock Hoppers. The village just granted a cabaret license.

  10. TL Resident says:

    They really need to do another update on this place. It has reopened under a new name with new ownership. I've been there a few times now. It seems to be doing much better than J. Fitzwoody's & Pier West. I've had an amazing burger and great pulled pork sandwich. Service was pretty good too. Nothing beats the views.

    The place really needed to lose Chip.

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