'Restaurant: Impossible' visits Palos Hills

Chef Robert Irvine tries to revamp the old Valley Inn

(From July 26, 2012)

The popular Food Network reality show "Restaurant: Impossible" was in Palos Hills last week to film the grand reopening of one of the oldest restaurants in the area.

The show's star, British chef Robert Irvine, was at the Valley Inn last Wednesday and Thursday to remodel the restaurant and revamp its menu on a $10,000 budget. Valley Inn owners Dennis and Frankie Ristucci and the Food Network crew reopened the inn, 8300 W. 107th St., at 7 p.m. Thursday night to a reservations-only crowd.

The line of waiting patrons extended into the restaurant's parking lot. Some guests said they had made reservations a week and a half before the reopening, yet still stood in line for half an hour before they were seated. Dozens of other people, many of whom described themselves as Valley Inn regulars but who did not have reservations for the evening, also lined up outside hoping to get into the restaurant's bar.

The Food Network was filming the event for Season 4 of "Restaurant: Impossible," and the episode will not air for a few months. Only diners with reservations were allowed inside, and all were required to sign waivers stating they would not talk about the renovations or their experience that evening until five days after the show airs, said "Restaurant: Impossible" producer Justin Leonard, who noted the restaurant was being treated as a closed set. The Valley Inn's owners and staff are contractually prohibited from speaking to the media about their experiences with the show and Irvine.

No one waiting outside the inn was provided any information about the renovations, but guests were speculating that based on the number of people being allowed in that the restaurant's capacity had been expanded.

The Valley Inn, which has not always had that name, may be nearly 80 years old. "Restaurant: Impossible" makes $10,000 worth of renovations to restaurants nominated based on their status as failing or unprofitable. Irvine and his crew spend two days remodeling the interior, training or retraining staff and updating the menu. To see what changes have been made to the Valley Inn stop in or make a reservation.