All The Things You Probably Never Knew About Kitchen Nightmares

Kitchen Nightmares was reality TV gold. The show, which ran for seven seasons with 92 episodes (as per IMDb), followed celebrity chef and world-famous raw fish smasher Gordon Ramsay as he attempted to help failing restaurants and, as Fox put it, “wake them up from their kitchen nightmares.” Just as cheesy and entertaining as that line, Kitchen Nightmares had a fairly simple premise: Ramsay would spend one week with a failing restaurant, working hard to figure out where it went wrong and how he could set it on the course for success. And work hard he did, as the restaurants on the show suffered from a whole host of horrifying issues from bad menus and rude staff to rotten food, vermin infestations, and lots and lots of filthy kitchens. 

Sometimes Gordon Ramsay’s work paid off, and sometimes it didn’t. But most of the time, much to viewer’s enjoyment, it resulted in serious drama and deliciously heated arguments between Ramsay, the restaurant owners, and the staff. But what was really going on behind all the yelling and swearing? Here are all the things you probably never knew about Kitchen Nightmares.

The majority of the restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares are now closed

Gordon Ramsay knows what he’s doing. According to his website bio, the chef has some serious credentials like seven Michelin stars, a restaurant empire that spans the globe, and more than 15 shows. So, for many, it’s surprising that the majority of restaurants from Kitchen Nightmares ended up failing. in fact, back in 2014, the Daily Mail reported that a whopping 60 percent of Kitchen Nightmares restaurants closed. Who knows how many more have closed since then?

While this statistic might be shocking to laymen, experts think it’s actually pretty low. Gene Marks, president of the consulting firm The Marks Group, wrote an editorial in Entrepreneur that focused on the impossible task that Gordon Ramsay took on. He wrote, “The fact that it’s only a 60 percent failure rate is a testament to Ramsay’s abilities.” But why is a 60 percent failure rate good in Marks’ eyes? Because some people just aren’t good at running a business. In his opinion, which honestly makes a lot of sense, some owners don’t have the instincts and skills necessary to make a restaurant work no matter how loud Ramsay yells at them or how many times he reworks their menu.

A select few of the restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares are doing better than ever

Sure, a 60 percent fail rate for the restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares, as noted by the Daily Mail, isn’t a good average. However, that statistic also means that 40 percent of the restaurants succeeded! Chef Gordon Ramsay does know what he’s doing, after all. Take Pantaleone’s as an example. As of this writing, the Denver pizza joint isn’t just open — it’s doing well. It currently has a solid four stars on Yelp, as well as four and a half stars on Tripadvisor with lots of reviews praising it’s customer service and super tasty sauce. There’s also Yanni’s Greek Cuisine. After appearing on Season 6 of Kitchen Nightmares (as per IMDb), this Seattle-based Mediterranean joint seems to be doing really well, scoring four stars on Yelp and four and a half on Tripadvisor.

Not every Kitchen Nightmares restaurant that’s still open is as successful, though. Like Baltimore brunch eatery Cafe Hon. After turning things around in Season 5, Cafe Hon is, as of this writing, scraping by with two and half stars on Yelp and three and a half stars on Tripadvisor. Not the best, but hey — they’re still open!

Restaurant owners on Kitchen Nightmares reportedly barely interacted with Gordon Ramsay

Besides bringing failing restaurants back from the brink, one of the biggest draws of appearing on Kitchen Nightmare was perhaps being able to spend time with the legendary Gordon Ramsay. But according to former Kitchen Nightmares restaurant owners Paul and Leslie Bazzini, that’s not the case. According an interview the couple did with The New Jersey Record (via Reality Blurred), they really didn’t spend any time with Ramsay. “You have no interaction with Ramsay at all. He comes with a very big machine of assistants and helpers,” Paul Bazzini told the publication. “The only time that I ever spent any time with him was on camera.”

The Bazzinis were also upset that they were set up to be a dramatic failure as opposed to being actually helped. Paul told The New Jersey Record that, in one instance, him and his wife were kept away from the restaurant until right before the dinner service when they were dropped in the deep end with a brand new menu and completely different kitchen. “It wasn’t run in the way that any restaurant would run,” he revealed. Bazzini is now closed, according to Yelp.

This restaurant owner said Kitchen Nightmares "ruined" his business

The Bazzinis weren’t the only restaurant owners who regretted appearing on Kitchen Nightmares. John Chapman, owner of former Nashville restaurant Chappy’s on Church, was super mad about what Kitchen Nightmares allegedly did to his restaurant. “It was truly a kitchen nightmare for me,” Chapman told the National Enquirer. “Gordon Ramsay de­stroyed my business!”

According to Chapman, “Ramsay hated everything” — from the food to the decor. The celebrity chef re-did the colorful restaurant to be more muted and modern and, much to Chapman’s dismay, changed the menu from authentic Creole favorites like jambalaya and gumbo to American classics like fried chicken, cheeseburgers, and hush puppies. “My cus­tomers hated it,” Chapman complained to the National Enquirer. “People would get up and walk out as soon as they saw [the new menu]. They loved the gumbos and fish, shrimp and oysters. They weren’t coming in for hamburgers — that’s for sure.” 

While Chapman might want to blame Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmare for Chappy’s on Church’s failure, it may have actually been his fault. According to a report from the Nashville Business Journal, Chappy’s was closed by the state in June of 2013 because of unpaid taxes.

Owners of a few Kitchen Nightmares restaurants actually sued Gordon Ramsay

Some of the restaurant owners from Kitchen Nightmares took their complaining about the show to a whole new level — the legal system. Like Martin Hyde, who was the general manager of an NYC Indian restaurant Dillons appeared on the show in Season 1. As reported by the Daily Mail, Hyde sued both Gordon Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmares for £500,000 on the grounds that Ramsay and the show ruined his professional reputation. Ramsay allegedly called Hyde “lazy” on camera, and the show producers reportedly blamed Hyde for the restaurant’s issues, even though Hyde claimed he wasn’t responsible. “Being ridiculed by Gordon Ramsay on TV has wrecked my life,” Hyde told the Daily Mail. “Gordon completely assassinated my character.”

The Mirror reported another Kitchen Nightmares legal battle involving Joe Nagy, the former owner of Mill Street Bistro in Ohio; Ramsay; and the Kitchen Nightmares crew. Allegedly, Ramsay and his team left Nagy’s restaurant in disrepair when they finished filming, with Nagy noting a broken ceiling and a missing cooking pot. The suit was settled, and the show reportedly paid Nagy £900.

One Kitchen Nightmares restaurant actually sued Gordon Ramsay twice

The Oceana Grill in New Orleans has sued Gordon Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmares not once, but twice. As reported by Today, the Louisiana seafood restaurant was in Season 4 of the reality show, even though they apparently tried really hard not to be. Oceana Grill attempted to sue Gordon Ramsay to stop their episode from airing as the owners reportedly didn’t realize how their restaurant would be depicted. The episode did end up airing, but the restaurant and Ramsay reached a settlement in which Kitchen Nightmares said they wouldn’t use any footage of Oceana Grill in the future unless they paid the restaurant and explained its current success. 

Today went on to report that Oceana Grill sued Ramsay a second time when, in 2018, one of the show’s Facebook pages posted a clip that shows Ramsay barfing after smelling rotten shrimp that had allegedly gone bad while at the restaurant. Not good. What’s worse — at least, according to Oceana Grill’s legal team — is that the video came with this comment: “No wonder this restaurant is failing…” The restaurant sued Ramsay for damages from the post’s alleged defamation.

Kitchen Nightmares caught some heat for tricking a vegetarian into eating meat

Fans of Gordon Ramsay’s many shows are well aware that he’s not always very nice. From smashing undercooked meat to screaming swear words in people’s faces, Ramsay is in fact pretty well known for rattling cages. And lots of people are super into his antics! They are rather entertaining. However, some feel that Gordon Ramsay crossed the line in one episode of Kitchen Nightmares. As reported by The Telegraph, the episode depicts Ramsay standing outside the restaurant handing out pizza samples to passersby. One man, a self-proclaimed eight-year vegetarian, was keen on tasting since Ramsay assured him the slice was vegetarian. It wasn’t until after the man ate the pizza that the celebrity chef revealed it had ham on it. 

Then, as an editorial in The Guardian summarized, Ramsay laid on the ickiness with jokes like he hopes the vegetarian doesn’t “come out in a rash” and wishing him “good luck with the Vegemite.” As The Guardian also pointed out, this prank was in poor taste. Think about it this way: Would it have been funny if Gordon had tricked a person who doesn’t eat meat for religious reasons?

The customers on Kitchen Nightmares are reportedly paid for their appearances

Viewers are almost always wondering which parts of reality TV are, well, real. When it comes to Kitchen Nightmares, most of it does seem to be real. There is a common rumor, however, that some of the people that appear on the show are paid actors. Actors do bring the drama, right? It turns out that there might be a smidge of truth to this gossip. Reality Blurred pointed out that every episode aired with the disclaimer: “The producers may have provided customers at the restaurant with a financial contribution towards the cost of their meal.” It’s not saying that the customers are actors, but it is saying that they’re paid for appearing on the show. 

Then there’s the fact that two restaurant owners who appeared on Kitchen Nightmares have worked as actors. Tatiana Leiva, who was in Season 5 as the owner of Charlie’s Italian Bistro, has had roles in one TV movie and two shorts, as per her IMDb page. Sebastian Di Modica, who ran Sebastian’s in Season 1, has two movie credits on his IMDb page. Very interesting, no?

Here's why Gordon Ramsay ended Kitchen Nightmares

Though Kitchen Nightmares had its fair share of controversy, fans were still shocked and disappointed when it was pulled off the air in 2014. But why did such a popular show end? “I got fed up with Kitchen Nightmares because I was getting s**t,” Gordon Ramsay said in 2017, as reported by the New York Daily News. “So I woke up one morning and I thought ‘F**k it, I’m done.'” By “getting s**t”, Gordon Ramsay was probably referring to the fact that most of the restaurants he “saved” ended up closing and he was over getting flack for it. Especially since, according to him, it wasn’t his fault since the restaurant owners would oftentimes go right back to their problematic ways as soon as he left.

But, as the New York Daily News shared, Ramsay regrets his decision to cancel Kitchen Nightmares, as he said, “Yes it was wrong to pull my own show off air.” But luckily for Gordon Ramsay fans, the celebrity chef is always cooking up some new project. In fact, he bragged that his next project would be “way, way, way better than Kitchen Nightmares.”

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