to the owner of the ship inn

Dear Ship Inn Owner,

Did you not take heed of the advice that Chef Robert Irvine gave you? I have now been into the restaurant several times since the makeover and since the Restaurant Impossible episode aired. I have to ask are you trying to tank your restaurant at this point?

You have a fabulous makeover. You’ve got a nice chef and nice staff. Yet you are miserable to them, and that is not invisible to your customers. We have a front row seat.

When I watched the episode of Restaurant Impossible, I distinctly remember Chef Robert Irvine not so subtlety telling you to not be so miserable to your employees, to not reprimand them on the dining room floor, to not be such a control freak essentially and give them a chance to do their jobs.

Everyone knows you still have the property for sale. I think probably the way to save the restaurant and the location is for somebody to buy it from you. But you are presuming everyone wants to assume the amount of debt you wracked up. In my opinion, it’s overpriced. I know people looking for historic sites for fine dining, and they aren’t looking your way.

The first time we came in for dinner after the show aired, first you kept us waiting while you “educated” your staff in front of us. I didn’t say a word but it was uncomfortable. Then after we were seated a while you YELLED at your servers ON the dining room floor. My husband has refused to return for dinner since because he found that so offensive. Which is a shame because dinner was good.

I have been back for lunch a few different times with friends. Every time you have been omnipresent and unpleasant with staff. Reprimanding and even yelling at staff again on dining room floor. Storming in and out of kitchen and your guests can hear the kitchens contretemps too.

Most recently I was there for lunch last Friday. I met a friend. We had wonderful salads but something that wasn’t so wonderful occurred before my friend arrived. The waitresses were setting up a couple of other tables coming in and they were right next to me and I forget what one of them said to the other but it struck me as funny and I laughed. You yelled at one waitress on the floor and shushed her for laughing too loud.

I said to you “Excuse me I’m really sorry if you thought it was too loud but it was actually me, not your staff.” You looked at me, said NOTHING and just turned your back to all and walked into the kitchen.

This is one of the things I don’t like every time I’ve been there (including in the past.) You are ALWAYS reprimanding or yelling at some staff member ON the restaurant floor for all of the guests to see and ironically for anyone saw the Ship Inn episode of Restaurant Impossible this is part of what Chef Robert Irvine said had to stop and he also told YOU that you needed a front of house so you got off of the floor. You are not particularly user friendly.

I really wish you would STOP doing this and not be so omni-present on the dining room floor. Your staff IS capable and NICE. I want this place to succeed. I really do.

‼️ALSO See: https://www.foodnetworkgossip.com/2021/07/ship-inn-restaurant-impossible-update.html ‼️

I have sat and thought about this for days because I don’t want people to think I don’t like the restaurant. I do. But I don’t like the way you treat people, and that actually includes customers because what you should have done was apologize to me for snapping at the waitress and making me feel uncomfortable because it was something I did, not her.

People are chattering about this around town it’s not just me. You can see it in your reviews you can see it all over social media. Part of the chatter is you’ve lost staff in your kitchen already and is that true?

I will note that you have monkeyed with the menu again and you’ve done a very heavy special for Oktoberfest or something. No one does the old-fashioned businessman’s lunch anymore. That menu is fine for dinner, but for lunch it’s too heavy and too expensive.

And the furniture in the made over formerly 1970s disaster of a main room? I guess you ran out of money for new tables and chairs? so in the back of the new room you have the old tables and the old chairs which are very out of place and hodgepodge and destroys the uniformity of the space that was designed for you.

And you still haven’t refreshed your ladies room. You should white wash it with bead board to kind of have it match the made over dining room. It’s clean but it’s very tired and it looks very shabby. And you could refresh it for not a heck of a lot of money. I have to wonder if the way the ladies room looks is the way you think of women in general?

I really hope you can get it together, because right now I actually fear for the restaurant and it’s survival not because of the staff, not because of the food, but because of you being like the black cloud of doom in the restaurant. You have a wonderful place there but if you don’t believe in it and the people working for you then what’s the point?

Try to be happy, and just be pleasant. If you can’t be pleasant, don’t be present. As patrons and diners we want to enjoy our experience, and that’s what we’re paying for is the experience and food and service. We’re not paying for the slideshow of yelling at your staff, which interferes with everything.

Eventually I will be back to give it one more try but not for a while. I might be the only one blogging about this locally, but I’m not the only of your local patrons to feel this way.

Signed,

A customer

oh you are going to want to make reservations…

The Ship Inn in Exton on Lancaster Avenue or Lincoln Highway is beloved to so many. Recently they got a television show makeover courtesy of Chef Robert Irvine and Restaurant Impossible.

I have to say well done! It’s wonderful!

Yes they are essentially getting a rave from me. I loved every minute! But I also have some other observations before I get to that.

The owner is working the floor. He is wound way too tight and he was is charge of the hostess desk when we got there…only we were marooned there for more than five minutes with no one greeting us. He also corrects his staff close to the point of berating them right there on the floor. He wasn’t yelling but the intent was obvious and it’s not something patrons wish to see. Hopefully he finds a competent front of house.

There is new life breathed into main room and the awful little booths are gone. Those booths were super uncomfortable and for a big room it was dark, it wasn’t airy.

Dark room no more. Clean and light and a design that so appeals to me because of the simplicity and execution of the design.

You are greeted crisp white walls with touches of maritime inspired brass rails, white bead board, and “sails” and a singular and fabulous ship cut out. It is this simple ship that is carried through on the tops of the menus and on the wait staff shirts.

At one end is the exposed stone wall with what looks like a semi-gloss clear seal. I love that look anyway and I think it looks fabulous.

The chairs are mid century inspired and SUPER comfortable with great back support while not looking clunky. The tables are very different but I think they will be a lot easier to maintain and they have a very clean look to them. Everything is very well spaced in the dining room it is not cramped.

They have some new cocktails. I chose the cranberry mimosa, which had just the right balance of everything. I enjoyed it. And I don’t drink very much so that’s saying something.

Ordering off the special prix fix menu is slightly rigid but I think post makeover they are getting their sea legs.

I ordered the surf and turf and wanted to substitute shrimp cocktail to start and waitress told me it was too expensive to do that. However I never said I would NOT pay for the up charge substitute, I would expect it. So I ordered shrimp cocktail separately and split it with my family. I love a good shrimp cocktail and it didn’t disappoint. And the cocktail sauce itself was fresh and had just the right bite.

With my entrée, I had the beet salad. Great vinaigrette, lovely greens, and I love beets anyway. The beets were chopped and I would’ve preferred a very thin slice to a little square, but that’s not really a criticism that’s just a personal preference on my part because I love beets. And they were red and yellow beets which are so pretty on a plate.

One thing I found surprising about the show makeover was the ladies room. The ladies room was surprisingly not refreshed. I think it would lend to the cohesiveness of the room makeover. It’s not that the ladies room is bad because it never has been, but I would suggest for the future that they take the design of the redone room and translate it simply into the ladies room. White bead board and white paint with a couple brass accents in that ladies room will really make a difference.

Now let’s talk about the lighting fixtures in the makeover room. Totally TERRIFIC lighting fixtures!! So many places fall short when it comes to lighting fixtures and the lighting fixtures are clean with a classic design that works so well with the room. And the lighting fixtures make you feel like you are on an old-fashioned teak yacht don’t know how else to explain it and I know that might sound weird but they’re great fixtures. The devil is in the details and they are spot on.

All of our main courses were amazing. We had crabcakes, Dan Dan noodles, surf and turf, and the ribeye. Compliments to the chef and our waitress for getting the meat temperature literally perfect.

We had various things for dessert. I had the sticky toffee pudding which I couldn’t finish, so half of it is in my refrigerator. But it was amazing. And sticky toffee pudding as one of those things that if it’s done right it’s just the best.

I went out of my way to take photos when people really weren’t around because I wanted you to see the room versus the people. They had a good crowd inside and out.

The wait staff as always is really nice, and I loved our waitress. She is one of those waitresses that is just perfect giving you the right amount of attention and not being intrusive or overly solicitous. And she’s genuinely nice. And that’s the thing— I always found the wait staff there pleasant and you can’t say that about a lot of places. The staff all seem to be working really well together and things were well-timed coming out of the kitchen and in the beginning our drinks were gotten to us quickly and our water, etc.

It was a fabulous experience as a guest, and we weren’t left hanging —- I don’t know how else to describe it. But you know what I mean sometimes when you go into a restaurant, and you feel like you are almost abandoned. Not tonight at The Ship Inn. They went out of their way to make guests feel special and I appreciate that.

I am so happy to see the new life in the old girl known as The Ship Inn and I wish them continued success from the bottom of my heart and I can’t wait to go back!

Make a reservation and check it out! Thanks for stopping by!

A postscript: The Ship Inn is only open for lunch Friday and Saturday which I do find inconvenient.

restaurant impossible coming to ship inn, exton!!!

I love watching Restaurant Impossible. And they are coming to Exton PA to right the ship…as in The Ship Inn!!!

So can we all hope this means a beloved local landmark will be getting a second chance courtesy of Chef Robert Irvine? Can we breath a sigh of relief since we all saw that it was for sale? I remember when I saw the Keller Williams Commercial listing. I was sad. The Ship Inn long before I lived in Chester County was a familiar landmark when I was coming out here to see friends. Always a friendly looking and welcoming place on the outside…and inside.

So on April 20 they are welcoming diners for filming. We signed up. Do not know if they will pick us, but sure hope so. For me personally, it will be a signal of life returning to normal post COVID year from hell. And ironically, it was one of the last places we ate out at before COVID-19 hit.

Now a confession: I am one of the people who sent Restaurant Impossible an email about this restaurant. It was before COVID hit. I have no idea whose email got them to nibble, but I am sure I wasn’t the only one. I just always thought someone like Chef Robert Irvine would be good for them. I know it sounds crazy, but every time I have been there, I imagined how the place could look with freshening up and space reconfiguration. Especially with regard to the booths in the “grill room”. I just always found them uncomfortable. But I like the other tables and chairs, so I hope they keep them but maybe refresh the seat coverings.

The Ship Inn is an amazing historic resource along with being a lovely spot to eat. And the kitchen was never bad, but fresh eyes I am sure will help them too. So I am so hopeful that Restaurant Impossible is the shot in the arm that they need!

I signed up and will let you know if we are going! If chosen people have to get a COVID test before going. If fully vaccinated I am unsure how that works.

Fingers crossed!!!!