Owner says sales up nearly 85% since renovation
Nearly one year after the popular Food Network show “Restaurant: Impossible” and chef Robert Irvine came to Palos Hills to breathe new life into the Valley Inn, the restaurant is doing well.
The Valley Inn, 8300 W. 107th Street, will celebrate 40 years in business with an anniversary party scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 4. Co-owner and manager Dennis Ristucci plans to offer free food and live entertainment to all patrons who come out to celebrate the occasion.
The family-style restaurant that offers sandwiches, pizza, Italian fare and a bar has been run by the Ristucci family since 1973. The inn and its cream-colored, Swiss chalet-looking exterior walls and reddish brown trim has been around since the 1930s. Ristucci said his parents, Faye and Frank Ristucci, bought the building in 1938 and opened the restaurant 25 years later.
“We are very proud to be a family owned and operated restaurant here in Palos Hills,” Ristucci said.
Before the $10,000 renovation courtesy of The Food Network last summer, the Valley Inn had fallen on hard times, and Ristucci was hopeful Irvine’s expertise could help to restore the restaurant to its former glory. In two days, Irvine and his “Restaurant: Impossible” team tackled a dark, dirty dining space and low-quality food before reopening to a line of hungry customers.
Sales have since the reopening increased nearly 85 percent, and the Ristucci’s have seen a rush of new faces, Ristucci said.
“Sales are good and it’s what we expected after the remodel,” he added.
The only downfall to the renovation was getting rid of the restaurant’s booths in favor of tables, Ristucci said.
“Some people are only comfortable sitting in a booth when they go out to eat and that is understandable,” he said.
Ristucci has revised menu, added new menu items including fresh calamari, and updated the décor inside of the restaurant. Among his favorite aspects of the remodel are the more inviting entry space and new flooring.
The Valley Inn’s menu is a mix of the restaurant’s original dishes and those that “Restaurant: Impossible” helped to create. Customers like the combination and variety, and the restaurant no longer uses any frozen foods, Ristucci said.
“All menu items are prepared fresh,” he added.
Ristucci acknowledged the inn is still in a transition period, but said the positives are what make it all worthwhile.
“Seeing such a constant flow of new faces dining in the restaurant all of the time is a reminder of how well we are doing,” he said.