Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Kitchen Nightmares - PJ's Steakhouse - CLOSED

Kitchen Nightmares PJ's Steakhouse

Episode Recap

Chef Gordon Ramsay visits PJ's Steakhouse in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, owned by husband and wife Joe and Madalyn, they opened the restaurant in memory of Joes brother PJ who once ran a bar in the property. Neither has worked in the catering industry, they come from a construction background. Chef Eric has a huge ego and thinks his food is great but the customers don't agree with him. They have invested everything they have, around $2 million, into the restaurant and they can no longer afford the lifestyle they are accustomed to. Gordon arrives at the restaurant and there is no one to greet him, he approaches the bar where he finds owner Joe. He also meets Madalyn and Eric. Gordon tells them the restaurant is beautiful and is surprised it is not doing well, Joe admits he thought it would be easier to run.

Gordon sits down to read the menu and is surprised that there is only 2 types of steak. Gordon orders the Crab Cakes, shrimp and roasted garlic ravioli and the Filet Mignon. The Crab Cakes are f***ing disgusting with plastic bits of crap running through them but Eric has no idea where the plastic came from. The steak was tough and served with raw onions and the ravioli looks like the biggest pile of s##t and tastes disgusting. Gordon heads into the kitchen to tell Eric his food is bad. Eric says that he is running things, Madalyn objects saying that she is there every day and Joe should be helping out. Joe admits he has given up but Gordon says that attitudes need to change for them to succeed. Later, Gordon meets with Madalyn, she tells him about PJ's death and that they need to make around $17-18,000 a week to break even and they are currently making $4,000. She also divulges they have sold everything to keep afloat but that after they bought the restaurant Joe was no longer depressed about his brothers death.

Gordon arrives that evening to witness a dinner service, the service is busy and Gordon soon discovers that there is a problem with communication in the kitchen but there is also a problem with getting the food out to the customers quickly. Madalyn says that eating at PJs usually takes around 2 hours for customers to dine. After a long wait the food arrives at the tables and most send the food back. Gordon feels he has seen enough of the kitchen and restaurant and heads down to the walk-in where he finds mouldy and rotten food and even a black lettuce. After the service he brings Eric, Joe and Madalyn down to the fridge to show them what he had found. Madalyn blames Eric saying it is his job to check it and their job to make sure he checks the fridge.

The next day Gordon interviews the locals to discover their opinions and shows the video to the staff, the comments were very negative. Before the nights dinner service Gordon introduces some specials including a mixed grill platter. He teaches Eric how to get the right timings and tells Joe to stay away from the bar, he is put on the salad station and Madalyn is in charge of the restaurant. The food leaves the kitchen too quickly as the first mixed grill is sent back for being cold. The dish is popular with many diners ordering it but most of them were unhappy with it when it arrives. Gordon says he has never seen anything that bad and Eric walks out forcing PJ's to shut down for the evening. Gordon says that he is willing to bring in a new chef and will pay for him for the first month to help them out. They make the decision to get rid of Eric.

The next day, Gordon introduces a new name for the restaurant, PJ's Grll and the restaurant that has been decorated with family photos in tribute to PJ. He also introduces a new menu that is more casual including steak frites and Irish stew. He also introduces the restaurants new chef Mark and Edna, a General Manager from one of his restaurants to help Madalyn with customer relations. Madalyn notices a man from the criticism video has come for dinner and she has a chance to turn him into a happy customer. The kitchen gets off to a strong start but Edna finds Madalyn sitting chatting to a friend and tells her to get back to work. She notices the customer from the video hasn't got their meal and discovers that the food was sent to the wrong table. Madalyn uses her new customer service skills to turn the situation around and the customer is pleased. The relaunch was a success with all customers served and leaving the restaurant happy. Gordon is impressed with Joe and Madalyn and Joe tells Gordon he feels his brother is watching over him.

What Happened Next? 

Although business had improved, the restaurant closed a few weeks after filming in May 2009 as the takings were low and the debts were high. The owners returned to the construction business. Yelp and Urban Spoon reviews prior to closing were poor. A German restaurant called Manor Oktoberfest has opened in its place, reviews are mostly good.

Extra Reading

PJ's Steakhouse Yelp

PJ's Steakhouse Urban Spoon

Chowhound Topic on PJ's (Reviews and comments)

Gordon Ramsay Tries to Be King of Queens, and Fails

Manor Oktoberfest Yelp Reviews

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

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  1. What a way to spend $2 million. Looks like they didn't get a second of enjoyment out of the business, and spent an insane amount in the process.

  2. I felt bad for the couple. Bad for the wife, who was stuck with her husband, who was clearly depressed and out of energy and turned to alcohol. I felt also bad for the husband for loosing his brother.

    I had the feeling that Gordon came to late to the rescue for this one. It could have been saved, but debts were to high.

    The cook was an arrogant, dimwitted idiot who deserved to be canned.

  3. I think personally that Eric put that piece of plastic in Gordon's food on purpose.

  4. Overall, somewhat lazy owners. If she was taking long breaks while Gordon and his help were there, what do you imagine was occurring once business slowed?

    Folded weeks after filming? Yikes. A complete waste of time and effort

  5. Sweet Jeebus!

    That owner was a useless souse….every time he spoke he slurred his words, like the drunk he is, and he basically flushed his wife's savings (not to mention their house) down the toilet. What a waste of space.

    1. He is an immigrant so that is probably his accent....

    2. Sorry, but that was NO accent. The guy was crocked 95% of the time, and he was slurring his words. That was no accent.

    3. Considering one of his first on-camera interviews had the words "When I came to the States...", I would bank on it being an accent.

    4. What accent sounds like a drunk slurring his words? None I've ever heard. He had a slight accent but that was separate from the slurring.

    5. He had an Irish accent. Yep. The interviews you heard the accent clearly toward the end of sentences when he went into what we call, the burrs. However, I caught a slur once in awhile. Especially the end of launch day. I could imagine he has alcohol issues. Went into it to heal old wounds, not to work. That's not how the restaurant business works.

    6. I thought Eric was p*ssed half the time too, he was slurring his words most of the time. I know regional accents vary but I think he may just playing at being a chef.

  6. Know the bussiness before you buy it then run it into the ground. The other owner had success because he knew what he was doin. A $700,000 gamble and they lost. Now the idiots can file for bankruptcy.

  7. Eric is another deluded wannabe chef. Thinks i just turn up to work cook food and go home. No eric, cleaning, check stock, source quality ingredients, creative menus, listen to customers know the competition etc etc etc so much more involved than just the hours you spend cooking too many lazy COOKS just clock in n clock off. Absolutely deluded idiot.

  8. PJ's deserves to be closed hope the owners never ever open any other restaurant and the cook who would not make a chefs backside because his food will kill someone,I am surprised that the US does not have health inspectors to close these trash restaurants for good because the food they serve is poison.

  9. PJ's food poison to the masses saving a lot of lives by closing thank you.