Sunday, May 19, 2013

Restaurant Impossible - Wagon Wheel Update

Wagon Wheel Restaurant Impossible Muskrat
Tonight on Restaurant Impossible, Robert Irvine and crew are going to Smyrna, Delaware to help out the Wagon Wheel Restaurant.  The restaurant has 'frozen food, outdated decor, dysfunctional family and disrespectful staff and the only thing keeping the restaurant alive right now is muskrat.'  If you do not know what muskrat is, it is a large rodent that lives in wetlands (pictured to the right.)  I asked Robert Irvine if he tried the muskrat while there, and he said 'Yep, Yuk!"  As I normally do with Restaurant: Impossible episodes, I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about the Wagon Wheel to get an idea of how the restaurant is doing since Robert Irvine visited, and here is what I found:

Positive Reviews:
  • "Food was good & service was great!"
  • "Was very good. Good was fresh and portions were great. Meatloaf sandwich is huge!! Nice and friendly staff!! Was rehabbed by Robert Irvine and Restaurant Impossible crew and what difference!! "

Negative Reviews:
  • "Decided to try the Wagon Wheel after hearing that Rest. Impossible just finished shooting there a couple of weeks ago. I figured this is the best time to go because they will still be using what they have learned from Chef Irvine, right? friend who was eating with me had a stink bug in her main course, it was on a piece of lettuce and looked to have been cooked up quite nicely....I noticed it was a little tough and cut it apart with my knife to find I had been eating undercooked chicken. VERY undercooked. Pink."
  • "Burger = Burnt beyond medium well. Tasted like a forest fire. Fries = Soggy , undercooked, unseasoned.. Chicken Stew = Cement..Salad = Good...Grilled Cheese- Meh...never again and this is post Robert Irvine visit "
  • "At this rate, with this menu, and this cook, and this staff, this restaurant cannot possibly survive. I would not recommend eating here."
  • "Restaurant Impossible helped the decor, not the food...We probably won't be back for a while."

*Reviews from Yelp, Foursquare, Tripadvisor

Other Stories:
  • A comment from a local message board - "I used to work as a server at the wagon wheel for over a year, this was back in 2010. It was really bad there the daughter of the owner Shelia drank her whole shift and had drugs going in and out of there. It is far from a family restaurant!! The food is so bad there that you wouldn’t even be able to tell that they are open because the parking lot is so empty! I saw everything that the customers didn’t and from what I saw I would not recommend this restaurant to ANYONE!!!"
  • From a Local newspaper - "For the past two months, however, Gallegos said acceptance among the locals has been slow coming. “Some people like it, some people don’t. The clientele I had before this don’t like it,” she said. “They don’t like change. And neither do I. But this was a good thing.”
  • From a different local article -  "“We used to serve a lot of frozen food. But now, all the ingredients, even the fries are fresh,” said Mrs. Gallegos. “It was a little rough when we were first on our own with the new menu but everything is sorted out now.”   The restaurant used to only serve breakfast and lunch but with the new menu it serves dinner five days a week.


While there weren't many reviews for the Wagon Wheel, the ones that were out there were mostly negative.  It seems that people have issues with both the food and the service.  The locals who were frequenting the restaurant before seem to not like the change, but that is usually the case for restaurants on the show.  It does seem that the owner has stuck with the changes that Robert suggested by not using frozen food and is serving fresh food.  This might be one we have to watch if they can't get the issues worked out soon.

Update from 10/22/2013 - An article in a local paper stated that the granddaughter Jessica is now back from college and is managing the restaurant.  She is introducing things at night like poetry night, open mic night, and comedy night to try to get more customers at nighttime.

UPDATE - The Wagon Wheel closed in September 2014 - More information on the closing.

*Visit Our Restaurant Impossible Update Page to see all Restaurant Impossible Updates, and which restaurants are open, closed, or have been sold.  Also Like Us on Facebook  and  Follow Us on Twitter 


  1. When Robert did his Pro/Con board with the muskrat, it looked like he actually had a picture of a beaver.

  2. Yeah, if you are going to talk about muskrats, don't put a beaver in the picture. Neither one sounds appetizing anyway.

  3. Doesn't food meant for human consumption have to come from inspected and certified suppliers and processors? I'm guessing that "a trapper" supplying the muskrat undressed, direct from the wild doesn't meet that criteria.

  4. Rodents of any sort do not belong in the kitchen or on the plate. Period.

  5. It didn't really seem as if the daughter really wanted to put much effort into the restaurant. She was really confused about what she wanted even when she decided to be manager. I think what the RI team and Irvine do is really great, but I feel also that the root cause of the problem in many of these restaurants (commitment and staff) cannot be addressed in 2 days so...the restaurants fall back into old routines.

  6. learn_how_to_spell_lynnMay 27, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    I wondered about that when I watched the show. Here in East Texas many people like venison but you can't serve it at a restaurant...

  7. I TOTALLY AGREE Some of these resturants are in SOOOO BAD SHAPE with inexperienced cooks. It would take at least 2 weeks to fix up some of these diners & at least a MONTH to teach some of the cooks how to learn the BASICS of preparing a meal!

  8. The daughter definetly looked like a drinker. I said that the minute she appeared. Hope she cleaned up her act. I doubt she'd keep a job anywhere else. Just saying.

  9. The mother apparently doesn't work there anymore, and the granddaughter is stepping up into the manager role. From the FN:

    Her mother, Sheila, is no longer working at Wagon Wheel, so Jessica will be relieving Patty and running the restaurant immediately after her graduation later this month. “I am excited to get back to work, to do what I wanted to since the beginning: make the Wagon Wheel profitable,” she tells FN Dish. “I want to become more involved in the community and create a place that people can go with their families to have a nice dinner with a great vibe.”

    She plans to institute a system of guidelines at the Wagon Wheel, which she hopes will in turn create a more positive work atmosphere for the employees and pleasant dining experience for customers. “I feel that setting standards is an important part of returning the restaurant to profitability,” she explains. “Everyone is doing what they can and also what they want, because no one is in charge to reward good behavior or reflect on negative issues.” Increased communication between all workers at the restaurant — managers, front of the house and back of the house included — will also help to equalize expectations. “With open communication from not only owners and managers but with the entire staff, no one is left in the dark to wonder what is going on,” she adds.

    Read more at:

  10. The cooks took a while to become consistent with the new food menu but have improved. Many of the staff on the show quit right after the show.There is a new staff on board. The kitchen and serving areas have always been clean and sanitized. Food and staff very good now!

  11. The place has always been a stink pit. It's no big wonder why they couldn't turn their reputation around. Show or no show you couldn't pay me to eat there!

  12. I just ate here about a week ago, I ordered the Bourbon Apple french toast. Apparently, no one knew how to make it and were out of ingredients for it. Pretty sure someone had to run to the store to get what they thought they needed to make it. It did, however, taste pretty good but was slow getting to me. The service was awkward and half the lights were off in the place (it was a Sunday around noon).

  13. I really feel bad for the mom. She seem to be a wonderful person and hard working person. If the resurant is doing bad i blamed her owned family such as her daughter, grandson. She does not deserve losing all she had. Sad!!!!

  14. Yes, its the daughter and also the mom falt for not being strong enough.