Thursday, 28 February 2013

Kitchen Nightmares - Yanni's Greek Restaurant - OPEN

Kitchen Nightmares Yanni's Greek Restaurant

Episode Recap

Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Yanni’s in Phinney Ridge, Washington run by Peter Augustio and his family. The restaurant was opened by his father in 1984 and was passed to Peter in 2007. Initially the business was a success but now the customers are dwindling due to changes in the neighbourhood. They have no medical insurance,  are in debt and the bills aren’t being paid. Before arriving at the restaurant, Peter asks to meet him and tells him that the customers aren’t willing to give the place a try. He also admits he is losing $8-10,000 a month. He tells Gordon that all his family work there but have no dedication to the restaurant. Gordon is greeted by Karen and daughters Alyse and Tariya, Tariya bursts into tears hearing of her parents struggle. They believe everything is outdated but Peter is too stubborn to change. Gordon sees Peter disrespecting his family and the way he talks to/about them is rather disgusting.

Gordon sits down to sample the food, the menu is like an encyclopaedia with 9 specials. Gordon orders the pumpkin hummus, moussaka and the house gyro. He says the decor is hideous and it feels like you are back in the eighties. The hummus is hideous with too much garlic, the moussaka has sweet meat, bitter under cooked eggplant and is greasy and the house gyro looks like a plateful of puke. Gordon confronts Peter and Alyse about their food and they are very defensive.

Gordon arrives to witness a dinner service. The kitchen is in chaos with Peter barking orders at Alyse and they are arguing constantly. Customers send back a lot of food, the meat has gristle and the orzo is overcooked. Gordon inspects the walk in and discovers that nothing is dated. The food is mouldy and rotten and the cardinal sin, there is cooked meat next to raw meat. There are tubs full of disgusting meat that they “aren’t using”  stored in the fridge. Gordon shuts down the kitchen and reduces Alyse to tears. Peter goes off in a shouting tirade refusing to see that ultimately the problem is his responsibility.

The next day Gordon sits the family down and Peter says that the refrigerator wasn’t as bad as Gordon made out and the food he served was fresh. Gordon tells them to take responsibility or he is outta there and that he needs to stop being so negative and to respect his family. The first challenge to the family is to cut out the dishes that aren’t selling. At first Peter refuses to remove anything but in the end realises the menu is too big, they cut down to 21 menu items. Gordon works on revamping the menu items and his team give the dining room a makeover with all new china. Tariya is crying again but this time tears of joy. They also have a new POS system so they can monitor what is selling. Gordon spends time in the kitchen with Peter and Alyse teaching them how to cook the new menu.

On relaunch night, Alyse is running the line and she begins the clash with Peter but Gordon steps in and helps them to work the new system. The customers love the new food and say they will come back to the restaurant. The family is peaceful.

What Happened Next?

In the weeks that follow, Peter adapts to the changes made by Chef Ramsay, Peter and Alyse continue to work well together in the kitchen and Tariya is smiling rather than crying. The menu changes haven't gone down well with some loyal customers, see Yelp reviews, so they have added some old favourites alongside Gordon's menu.

Extra Reading

Yanni's Yelp Reviews

Yanni's Greek Restaurant - After the 'Nightmare' - The Fledgling's Gourmet's Blog Review with Pictures

How did Yanni’s wind up on Kitchen Nightmares?

‘Kitchen Nightmares’ is a dream for local restaurant 

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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Kitchen Nightmares - Sam's Mediterranean Kabob Room - CLOSED

Kitchen Nightmares Sam's Mediterranean Kabob Room

Episode Recap

Chef Gordon Ramsay visits a Mediterranean restaurant in Monrovia, California owned by Sam Najarr and his family. He worked in the restaurant starting as a bus boy and decided to buy the restaurant in 1997. Business was good to begin with but slowed down and now the only staff he has left is made up of Sams wife and his five older children (his other 2 children are under 14) and as families do, they argue and they argue a lot! They also argue in front of the customers and resent being in the restaurant to help out their father as they feel it is holding them back from what they want to do in life. As Gordon leaves his hotel to travel to the restaurant, he is besieged by Sams children wanting to talk to him before he reaches the restaurant. They all have plenty to say about the problems at the restaurant but they mainly blame their father for the arguments. Gordon is shocked to discover that all the children all work seven days a week and are the only staff. They tell him that none of them want to work there anymore.

Gordon arrives at the restaurant and is greeted by Sam and discovers that he doesn't pay his children any salary as he can't afford to pay them. They all live at home with him and don't pay to live there. An argument breaks out over a smashed plate. Sam rates his food as a 9/10 and recommends a lamb shank to Gordon. Gordon notices that meat is spelt as meet on the menu and there are many other misspellings on there too. Gordon orders the Vegetable Combo, Lamb Shank, Gyro and the Top Sirloin Steak and Shrimp cooked medium rare. Gordon describes the decor as dreadful and depressing and hears the family fighting in the kitchen. The Vegetable Combo has canned eggplant and is dreadful and the falafel is bland with no seasoning. The Gyro is bought in from a company and is frozen, it tastes dry. The lamb shank looks anemic, is a bad colour and tastes like bland boiled lamb that should be sent back to New Zealand. The kitchen argues throughout and two tables leave. The steak is overcooked, solid and dry. The shrimp scampi is swimming in butter, it is also rubbery, hard and overcooked. His children admit they have given up and no longer care. They continue arguing through to the afternoon all the way through to the dinner service.

Gordon arrives to witness a dinner service and meets Sams wife. They all take it in turns to cook and the food is returned as undercooked or overcooked. Gordon discovers they have mouldy food in the kitchen so decides to discover the walk in. He discovers huge buckets of chopped parsley, bendy celery, soft cucumbers and rotten lettuce. They try to serve raw chicken to a customer, the Chef shows his cooking inexperience as he says it is cooked on the outside so he thought it was cooked on the inside. They argue yet again after service and the argument overspills into the street outside. The next day Gordon sits down with the children and tells them to be honest with their father and explain that they want their lives and careers to go a different way as they are currently trapped at the restaurant. They are scared to stand up to him as they don't want to hurt him. Sam puts his foot down saying that the family rule is that he makes the decisions for the family. They all speak their mind to their father and there is a lot of tears.

Gordon gives the staff cooking lessons including cooking the kebabs on the skewer to keep them more juicy and to avoid the chaos there will only be one person cooking on the grill. The family are happy with the new food. Overnight, his team give the restaurant a huge makeover, with Gordon describing it as one of the biggest and most expensive transformations ever. The menu gets a makeover and is modern and contemporary. The staff sample the food and love it.

Relaunch night, the customers are raving about the decor of the restaurant and they love the food. The family are working well together in the kitchen. As Gordon is leaving he gives them the framed photo he took of them all. 

What Happened Next? 

In the following months, the children have been given time off and Sam is hiring for new staff. Yelp reviews since mixed with criticisms of the food and the service. The restaurant closed in January 2014.

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Sunday, 3 February 2013

Kitchen Nightmares - Olde Hitching Post - OPEN

Kitchen Nightmares Olde Hitching Post

Episode Recap

Chef Gordon Ramsay visits the historic Olde Hitching Post, in Hanson, Massachusetts, purchased by Greek restaurateur Tom Kessaris for his daughter to carry on the restaurant business. Although he bought the restaurant for his daughter, he runs the restaurant and does not let daughter Andrea have her say. Tom is  hard on the staff and they don't always agree with him. Tom is supporting the restaurant with his own savings, Andrea says that she wouldn't have signed up to it if she knew  7 years later she still would not be in control. 

Gordon discovers that Tom bought the restaurant for his daughter and that he hasn't given up control. Tom says she is not ready, he feels she isn't hungry for it and isn't hard working. Tom tells him that he buys quality food and the portions are generous but he is losing $7-8,000 a week.  Gordon arrives at the restaurant and is greeted by Janice the manager. He also meets Andrea, she says her role is front of house and that her father won't step down. She appears surprised when she hears that her father said she isn't passionate about running the restaurant. Gordon finds out that her husband has been bought in to help, working in the kitchen. 

Gordon sits down to order some food and meets server Carla, who tells him they are always butting heads. She recommends the Cranberry Haddock, he also orders the meatloaf and lobster ravioli. He questions whether it is made on site, she agrees but reveals later that Tom makes them say everything is handmade. The ravioli arrives and he is told it's frozen, they are cold in the middle, he spits it out. The cranberry haddock looks like a bear s**t in the woods. It is watery, bland, under cooked and  disgusting. The grilled meatloaf is disgusting, dry and doesn't feel like a meatloaf that has been made today. Carla discovers that the Chef doesn't  know when it was made. Gordon enters the kitchen, not happy about the dishes and Tom tells him it is impossible to make it everyday. The Chefs reveal they are not happy with the food they are serving.

Gordon witness a dinner service and he sees a lot of frozen food including frozen calamari. Gordon dares Tom to take the frozen food into the restaurant to show them but would be humiliated to  make a scene and Gordon tells him he's happy to take their money.  Gordon tells the servers to tell the customers what food is fresh and frozen and the customers aren't happy. Gordon tries to bring Andrea in to help with the situation but it descends into a heated argument over frozen scallops. 

The next day Gordon visits the local radio station unconvinced that the locals love the restaurant and the food they serve.  Customers complaints range from stomach problems to the dated nature of the restaurant. Gordon returns to the restaurant to pass on the comments and Tom promises to change. Gordon visits two local customers who have made fresh meatloaf to demonstrate that you can make  fresh meatloaf. Gordon's team redecorate the restaurant and the dated cranberry decor is gone, as are the dated booths. Gordon has also revamped the menu, everything is to be made fresh, new dishes include a clam chowder, a New England Lobster roll and an improved fresh meatloaf. The staff sample the menu and love the food.

On relaunch night, the restaurant is packed. Andrea is running the line in the kitchen and Tom is hovering around in the background. Gordon inspects a salmon dish and it is raw in the middle. Gordon reminds Andrea to insect the food carefully and for the chefs to slow down and cook the food properly. The customers love the food and Andrea does a great job. Tom is complimenting his daughter and supporting her. After the relaunch, Tom asks Andrea to sit down for a chat and he finally agrees to pass the restaurant on. In the following weeks, Tom leaves Andrea to run the restaurant as promised and the locals are happy with the new menu and new restaurant.

What Happened Next? 

After Gordons visit,  Yelp and Trip Advisor  reviews are mixed, with a mixture of both positive and negative comments. There are new owners as of  sometime during late 2015/ early 2016.

Extra Reading 

Olde Hitching Post Yelp Reviews 

Olde Hitching Post Trip Advisor Reviews 

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares
Read More »