Sometimes when we're watching the ridiculous antics in 'Kitchen Nightmares', we have to ask: How bad is it ACTUALLY?
Below are stories of people who ate or worked at restaurants that were featured on 'Kitchen Nightmares', and what their experience was. Check it out!
1. I actually worked at one of the restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares. In fact, I helped debut it. First of all, let me say this: I always thought Kitchen Nightmares was faked and exaggerated. But now I know the truth. They actually had to tone this guy down for TV.
As far as the food goes, it's a shame, really. When he started the restaurant, he, his mom, and his aunt cooked amazing food from scratch. The best greek food I've ever had. He insisted on extremely high-quality ingredients across the board, causing them to hemorrhage money. He started sleeping later and later, showing up less, and the microwaving of food started. Between increasing drama in the kitchen and decreasing quality of prep and ingredients, incredible food turned bland and mediocre experiences became horrible. I remember that somebody told a vegan that Souvlaki was vegan (it has a ton of ground beef in it).
The boss (would also talk about how he'd like to have sex with all the female customers. He would take the contents of the safe home every night (just for, you know, safe keeping). He accused us of stealing from the register (we didn't) and told us he would force us to work for free for the amount of time it took him to review the security footage (you... can't do that). He told us to stop people from putting napkins under the table legs to stabilize them. "If I see one more of these under here," he said, "I'll make you walk around with it in your shoe! Do you know what that does? It will mess up your back."
I got fired a few months in. Never looked back. So glad that happened. Saw that kitchen nightmares episode a few years later and laughed my dick off. It's a real shame. He wasted $800K of his dear old mom's money on that place
2. Been to one of the restaurants a couple times. Food was pretty decent the times I went, though I hadn't been there before it was on the show.
A few years later, Gordon was in town because he was doing the half ironman and stopped in unannounced for a meal. From what I remember reading he was happy to see the people he had helped and had no complaints. I was there the same day after a local beerfest but must have just missed him.
3. We have a little Italian pizza place out here that was featured on Kitchen Nightmares a few years ago.
Last fall my husband, my friend and I decided to go try it out. The little old Italian man who ran it on the show is still there. It was so funny when we came in, we stood at the counter to order and he said: (Continued)
He said "You, what do you want?"
And we're like, "Um, lunch?"
So he sat us down at a table and made us the best damn pizza I've had in a really long time. He kept coming over and very brusquely asking us "You, how are you doing?" or "You, how do you like the food?"
It was really good, we were the only people there so it was really quiet. I speak Italian and the guy was so happy to talk to me. I stood at the counter for about ten minutes chatting with him in Italian. He told me I was the first person in several years to come in and speak to him in Italian.
It was actually really fun. The food was fantastic. I recommend it to all my friends. I hope the place does really well.
4. I once went to to one restaurant before they were featured on the show. Took over an hour for them to make me a club sandwich.
5. I went to a place specifically because it had been on the show. They reverted back to their original menu, all the food sucked, and they're in a part of town with a lot of amazing restaurants.
I honestly have no idea how they're still open.
6. There's this Italian place that's been in the community for years. It was run by these twin brothers. Used to go with my parents back in the day and it was always good, packed, pretty good little place for not the greatest location.
Convinced my girlfriend to check it out fairly early on in our dating life. Thought it'd be fun, in that cheesily romantic way. Walked in and there was no one. Sat down and received that cold in the middle boiling on the outside microwaved goodness. Pretty sure one of us got mild food poisoning from the fish.
Laughed it off and saw it on kitchen nightmares later that year. Seemed like they lost their drive more than anything. Haven't tried it since but they're s still open with the new design so... Best of luck to them!
7. I ate at a restaurant on Kitchen Nightmares. The place was in my neighborhood, and the owners were nice, hardworking people, but they inherited the restaurant and had very little experience.
The episode went awkward, fast. Pretty much the entire neighborhood saw it live. Throughout the episode, the viewers realized that the husband was very seriously depressed. At one point Gordan Ramsey had to stop acting and... (Continued)
At one point Gordon Ramsey stops acting and sits down to have an honest-to-god intervention with the guy.
I felt horrible for having watched the episode, honestly. It felt sickeningly voyeuristic to be participating in this family's legitimate problems. If the guy had been a stranger in another state, I might have felt differently, but he wasn't. He was a real person that I saw every morning smoking a cigarette while I walked to work. I'd stand behind his daughter in line at the coffee shop. He was not a character, and he was not acting for the camera.
So, to your actual question, I went there twice after filming. Both times the food was amazing. (I'm not just saying that because of guilt, it was actually fantastic. But, as I said before, the food wasn't their problem.)
What was less fantastic was that the owner would come to your table to talk with you. But he was...how to put this gently...not the best conversationalist. The conversations would start out normal, until he'd segue into telling us how his father died violently in a house fire, or that I should make sure to tell my friends to go there because the place was still failing and he didn't understand why, and so on. They were among the most delicious, and saddest meals I've ever eaten. Eating there was on the same level as going out to dinner after my grandmother's funeral.
The place seemed like it was doing better after the episode - it looked like it had much more business, anyway. But it closed about 3 years after the episode aired. Gossip around the street is that the place had actually recovered financially, but the landlord thought they could get more money from opening a different kind of establishment. But the place the landlord wanted fell through, so now it's just an empty building in the middle of an otherwise thriving street.
8. I went to a place when it was rebranded as a steakhouse, but without knowing that it was featured on the show. So at that point, it was good. It wasn't until later when I was catching up on episodes that I realized that place had been featured. The food was good and the experience was as well, so I was shocked that this was on an episode. Lo and behold, I could see why once I saw it.
Their episode got featured in October of 2011 and they were closed by January of 2012. I think I had been there in November of 2011, so I got it all brand new and revamped.
9. I've been to one of the restaurants 3 times with my friends. The first time was a few months after Kitchen Nightmares and someone started going off on us about Gordon Ramsay even though we never said anything about seeing them on TV. Food was pretty mediocre, and we getting alien death stares from the kitchen, but the desserts were... (Continued)
The desserts were legitimately amazing. Like, the best piece of chocolate cake I've ever had. But them acting out on us made it kind of an uncomfortable experience.
The second time was more or less the same, but the third time, it seemed like they finally cooled down and heeded Gordon Ramsay's advice. The menu was maybe a third as large, they seemed to actually specialize in certain things, they didn't behave like they were insane, and the food was actually pretty good. Same awesome desserts too. Like, I'd totally go there again if they were still open. I think they finally decided to change because their bad rep from Kitchen Nightmares made them lose too much of their business, and they told us they were likely going to be closing down in a couple months... It was a little sad, but they were pretty nutty people who couldn't get their stuff together in time.
10. I was a production assistant on a handful of episodes. The food was usually bad, the menu was replaced by the nightmares team, then most places switched back.
11. My family regularly went to a place before it was on the show. I was very nervous when I found out it was on the show, but luckily it was one of the few episodes I saw that didn't feature a dirty kitchen and disgusting food practices. We then went once after the show.
Before the show, the food quality was decent but not spectacular. The atmosphere was pretty good (it was right on the water). The food quality improved slightly after the show, but the price became very expensive, and we decided that as much as we loved the place, it was too overpriced now to return.
12. I ate at a couple of restaurants. They both sucked but the restaurant that replaced one of them is pretty good now. I also knew a guy that worked at the other. He accidentally spilled a pan of hot oil down into his leather boot. When the ER took his sock off, all the skin came with it.
13. We have one in my town. The lady should have never owned a restaurant, she was nice, but too much of a dreamer. After Gordon's visit, the food was fair. A little pricey for what it was, but the ambiance, menu, and overall vibe just didn't go well.
The cook Gordon fired opened his own place down the street. People like the food, but it's run like it's either their first or last week in business. It's just chaos.
I don't frequent either location.
14. I've told this story before, but...it was Restaurant Impossible, not Kitchen Nightmares.
I think I went twice after the show. They had a HUGE menu (300 items or something ridiculous like that) so none of the stuff was ever fresh. Not really. It was all frozen and reheated.
The show basically stripped down their menu and remodeled the place.
Honestly I didn't notice a huge difference in the food. Might've been a little better, but not by a lot. The second time I went the menu was at least halfway back to its original size. I assume regulars complained that they couldn't get their favorite dishes.
They ended up "retiring" shortly after because they lost the connection with their restaurant. Because they went right back to what they were doing, they were still not doing too well, and the remodel made it seem like a totally different restaurant.
15. I live in the same town as a soul food restaurant episode. The show was accurate. The dead rat wasn't planted and I'm honestly surprised that's all they found based on personal experiences.
I will stand by the fact that the staff was better the restaurant and owner deserved. They probably downplayed how awful her personality was when it came to running the business and taking criticism.
They would occasionally try to get us to support the business and eat lunch there. As with most restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares it closed down shortly after.
16. My husband and I visited one restaurant. You may remember it from the show as having the random belly dancing shows. We did not watch the episode prior to going to the restaurant for happy hour. We asked our waitress (who was very sweet) about being on the show and the changes they had made. It didn't seem like she had much to say other than that the menu was "more streamlined". She said it was "more streamlined" about six times. The food was not bad. Shortly after our visit we watched the show and I will never go back because it was so gross.
17. A friend of mine ate at the Hell's Kitchen restaurant, so not exactly what you asked for, but good info nonetheless. A few things:
-The meal that the contestants make is always followed up by a meal by the real professional staff. People never actually leave without eating.
-When they show tables where people are "casually" talking about the food, usually how bad it is, those tables are surrounded by lighting kits and cameras and are all actors or at least people paid to eat and give a big reaction.
-My friends table got tons of free wine because their food was messed up (so did a lot of tables, they gave out a lot of free wine, including a few bottles to take home after).
-The real meal after the show was off the hook. Some of the best food he's ever eaten, and he's a chef.
-The whole experience from entering to leaving took about 4 hours. and the cost was $250 per person (I'm pretty sure that was the price, a little fuzzy on that point, but it was expensive, but not overly so since they got so much free wine and awesome food).
Overall he said it was an awesome experience, and the head dude was a super nice guy! And no, no one got to talk to Ramsay, he had a show to produce.
19. My wife and I just visited Boston for our second anniversary in October. While we were walking around the North End looking for Italian restaurants, we found one featured. At the time, we did not realize that this place had been on Kitchen Nightmares. We thought it was a cozy little place with pretty good food and wine, and the service was good. Overall we liked it a lot. My wife only realized that the place had been on the show after we left, and we were impressed with it.
20. Basically the same situation, a restaurant near me was featured on Restaurant Impossible a few years ago. I have no idea why. The food before was delicious. Huge portions, cheap, and full of flavor. It was one of my favorite places to eat.
After, everything had to be small and fancy looking, they redecorated the whole place so it looked sterile, but didn't have the comfortable, colorful vibe it used to have. They jacked up the prices, and it's not a rich neighborhood, so they lost half their business. The food was bland, portions small, but it did look a lot nicer.
This was a few years ago, so they've moved back toward the original style and they're still open so it must be doing ok. Not a favorite restaurant anymore, though.