PremiereWatch: 'Kitchen Nightmares'
Who said that the television bigwigs don't listen? One of my greatest complaints about Kitchen Nightmares last season was that we didn't get to see what happened down the line at the restaurants Ramsay was fixing, and the new season started by rectifying that mistake. Tonight's premiere featured Gordon going back to six of the places he helped a year ago to see if they'd become successful.
This Irish pub was the first place up tonight (once John McCain got off my television). BG (Before Gordon) -- the place served lots of frozen, pre-packaged food and had a surly chef, who also happened to be the owner's son.
One year later and AR (Anno Ramsay) --Surly was still there (he's family after all), the pub's revenue was apparently up 35 percent and the boss man, Buddy, who hadn't been cashing his checks previously, was now. It all sounded so good, so positive, a perfect Kitchen Nightmares success story.
And, I don't think it's fair to blame Ramsay at all for Buddy's heart attack. That heart attack may have taken place after his visit, but that really doesn't mean that it was Ramsay's fault. The temporal relationship may have been correct, but temporal relationship by itself does not prove causality. Ramsay's changes could have been responsible, but that's wholly unproven (and the show didn't even suggest it).
So, Ramsay's changes had stuck and the restaurant was hugely successful. Gordon Ramsay 1, Doubting Thomases 0.
The Olde Stone Mill (This restaurant is near and dear to my heart because I've eaten there)
BG -- the restaurant had a loud, obnoxious owner; horrific food; and was a half-million dollars in debt. Dean, the owner, may have been one of the best characters of the first season. His head was as hard as a rock, and even being ridiculously in debt, Dean didn't seem to want to do anything differently, he just wanted the place to succeed as it was. Intelligence was clearly not the man's strong suit.
AR -- Dean said the restaurant was up 25 to 30 percent. It troubled me though that he said that initially the place was taking in double the cash. Sure, up 25 to 30 percent is good, but that's down from being up 100 percent. Maybe that downward trend would continue, but as it was fine the last time Ramsay checked in, I'm going to have to give him the point.
Gordon Ramsay 2, Doubting Thomases 0.
The Mixing Bowl
BG -- The Mixing Bowl had been successful at one point, but was on its last legs. The place was led by a triumvirate: Billy, the owner who did nothing but cook; Lisa, the wife, who wanted the place shut down; and Mike, the manager who couldn't manage. After giving the menu a complete makeover, Ramsay told Billy and Lisa that if Mike didn't change, the place would still have huge problems.
AR -- Mike was, shockingly, still present. He may have changed on the last night Ramsay was there, but I certainly didn't think it would stick. Everyone seemed so happy-go-lucky during the revisit and the restaurant was making money. Even Lisa was happy the place was still open. It was kind of boring, frankly, I really wanted to see Mike fired or to find out that Lisa had left Billy because she couldn't take the stress. That would have made for good television.
Gordon Ramsay 3, Doubting Thomases 0.
Dillons (or Purnima Dillions Restaurant as it was renamed)
BG -- This Indian restaurant may have required more work than any other. When Gordon showed up, the place was completely filthy and the food horrific. The vegetarian appetizer he ate had meat and the beef was actually pork. Plus, there were rats, and flies, and cockroaches. I wouldn't be surprised if some had slipped into the food, but they certainly weren't supposed to be on the menu. The managers (all three of them) seemed incompetent, and while the show explained that the place was given the Purnima because it was an authentic Indian one, they never did delve into how Dillons became Dillions. Before leaving, Gordon also ensured that the general manager quit and that a new chef, Vikas, was brought on as a consultant.
AR -- Dillions was Dillons again (Purnima still present) and Vikas was still there. Apparently customers are now invited downstairs to see the food storage too. I know that if I were there I would absolutely want to ensure that the roaches and rats and rancid food was gone. Good call on that one, Vikas.
Gordon Ramsay 4, Doubting Thomases 0.
BG -- Joe, the owner and man in charge in the kitchen, loved huge food portions. Unlike some other places, the kitchen was well stocked... too well stocked. The place was losing tons of money on the amount of food being brought into the kitchen and then brought home when patrons couldn't finish the servings. Ramsay bought the place small plates and decided that Campania should be famous for meatballs. Seriously, meatballs.
AR -- Another great success story. I don't mind telling you that I was getting bored by the huge successes after the third one. Is Ramsay really that perfect? Were these six restaurants selected because they were successful makeovers? Were the others not quite as successful? Because, if the changes at the other restaurants flopped, I definitely think one of them should have been included.
Gordon Ramsay 5, Doubting Thomases 0.
Peter's Italian Restaurant
BG -- This Italian restaurant not only had tons of equipment that didn't work, it had Peter as a co-owner. Tina, the other owner (and Peter's sister), was fed up with her brother's attitude. Peter was a loudmouth who cared more about how he looked than what was happening at the restaurant. He took money out of the cash register and didn't always come in to work (though he never failed to collect a paycheck). All it took to fix Peter, was a stern talking to from Gordon. That, some new kitchen equipment and a new menu and the place was all set.
AR -- The old head chef was gone and Peter had a bright shiny new car (and his old one had seemed pretty bright and shiny too). It seemed like the restaurant transformation was successful, and I'm going to give Ramsay the point, but Ramsay himself didn't actually go and revisit the place. I would have liked to hear what he had to say to Peter, because I'm convinced that he would still have an unkind word to two for the Biff Tannen wannabe.
Gordon Ramsay 6, Doubting Thomases 0.
Okay, so Gordon Ramsay is apparently perfect (except for not being able to make it back to Peter's). Everything that Ramsay touches turns to gold. He is the savior of restaurants everywhere. I guess that the six restaurants chosen tonight help prove the validity of the show's premise, but after the first few it wasn't that compelling to watch. No? Am I wrong? Speak up if I am, I can take it (sort of).
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