Saturday, 30 July 2016

Hotel Hell - Beachfront Inn & Inlet - OPEN

Hotel Hell Beachfront Inn & Inlet

Episode Recap

Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Beachfront Inn & Inlet, Fort Pierce in Florida, a struggling hotel located on the beach. The hotel was opened in 2012  by Brian with the profit of a successful fish market ran by his father. Brian has no hotel experience, is easy going and allows friends to work in the business and some have taken advantage. His close friend Ben is the chef  and is left to cook the food with no involvement from Brian. The employees and guests party in the bar until the early hours of the morning which has led to complaints from paying guests. 

Gordon arrives at the hotel and is in awe of the stunning backdrop to the hotel, when he arrives at the hotel it looks like it has closed down.  Gordon is shocked to see pieces of varnished driftwood for sale for $22. Liza, the hotel manager tells one of the biggest problems is noise complaints from rooms above the restaurant. Gordon finds a large barbecue outside that they use for cooking chicken wings, complete with old, burnt wings. Liza takes Gordon to his hotel room, room 16 in the Caribbean building and as soon as Gordon enters he notices a damp, musty smell and a bed that feels like it is 15 years old. 

Gordon meets with Brian who admits he has never run a hotel and has experience of running a fish market. Gordon sits down to sample the food, looking forward to fresh fish. Gordon looks over the huge menu and orders the chicken wings, that are dry, a lobster mac and cheese that isn't a mac and cheese as they used penne pasta and the worst was the tuna burger, with frozen tuna. Brian admits that they have had to switch to frozen fish as he is in debt to his brother at the fish market. Gordon finds a kiosk where you can buy beach towels and Brian runs off to find one, the only one they have in stock. 

Gordon arrives for an evening service and  asks customers if they would expect fresh or frozen fish and they tell him they expect fresh fish so he asks Brian to explain why they are serving "quality" frozen fish. Gordon asks to see the freezer as he wishes to see the fish and he also finds frozen avocado. In the walk in, he finds something in slimy water, something unknown, possibly Pina Colada, that is frothy, bubbly and festered, raw and cooked chicken together, a tub of tuna burger mix and rotten produce stored with fresh. Brian says the responsibility is the head chef Ben and Gordon wants to close the restaurant due to the cross contamination. The decision is made to 86 the wings to avoid any potential issues. Gordon discovers that Ben is unreliable and tells Brian that Ben is incompetent. 

Gordon visits Liza to get some peace and quiet from the noisy band that are now playing on the patio. A complaint is rang through about smoke in a room with a customer with an allergy, Gordon finds Brian and they go up to meet the customers. Before entering they meet other customers who have water all over the floor and Gordon promises to come back. They discover the problem is the air conditioner, it has not been cleaned and is blowing allergens in the room, Gordon insists that they are found another room. 

The next morning they have a staff meeting but the problems raised by staff are brushed off by Brian. Gordon reaches out to his brother Eric, who is funding the business. Eric is at his wits end and has threatened to cut him off, he has asked for 8 weeks to repay him the $30k he is owed. Gordon introduces Brian to customers, they aren't impressed - the service is poor, the food is poor and one customer was served raw chicken. He also admits he used to get free drinks, he would pay for one and get five. One customer came to a Superbowl Party, the food was poor and after the game they had drinks thrown on them. There are mixed messages, some guests are paying hundreds of dollars to stay and eat surrounded by drunk beach goers. 

Overnight, Gordon's team redesigned rooms and added a beach club to unused outside space. Gordon asked Brian to come in looking like a boss but he has come in looking like a towel boy, he is sent away to get changed. Gordon reveals the new rooms and the staff love them. Gordon reveals the new menu, a smaller menu that will be easier for Ben to cook featuring fresh seafood and that the Mayor will be dining with them that evening. 

For relaunch night, Brian gives the front of house team a pep talk whilst neglecting to tell them that the Mayor is dining that evening. He also neglects to tell the kitchen staff and Gordon has to remind him, Brian tells them that his is at table 7. Brian is running around like a headless chicken and customers are left waiting for food, they chase table 15 which is the table the mayor is actually sat at. Gordon is not impressed with Brian, as Ben has given up and he has done nothing about it. Gordon walks past the mayors table and there is no food on there despite Ben telling him that the mayor had his food. Gordon rescues a dish from a server and the chicken looks dry,  Brian believes the food to be raw... Gordon reaches his wits end and packs his bags, leaving Brian stood with the chicken salad.  

What Happened Next?

After Gordon left, Brian missed the deadline for paying his brother back but his advice started to sink in, four months (!) afterwards Brian sacked Ben and employed a new kitchen staff. They have implemented a curfew for the live entertainment as he is focusing on the paying guests. They have made further improvements including installing new kitchenettes,  a new menu, new patio furniture and the garden has been landscaped.  There is also a new gift shop selling Navy Seal merchandise. 

Extra Reading

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Hotel Hell - Brick Hotel - OPEN

Hotel Hell Brick Hotel

Episode Recap

Gordon visits The Brick Hotel in Newtown, Pennsylvania, a historic hotel bought in 2006 by therapist Verindar Kaur and son CJ, in the bid to make a profit they cut corners and the customers did not respond well. The staff believe that it is a dictatorship run by a control freak with no people skills who screams at the staff. There is a high turn over of staff, over 50  members of staff have worked there over 8 months, some only last one shift.  

Before Gordon goes to the hotel, he meets a large group of ex employees, they believe the turn over is in the 100s and one staff member saw over 50 managers during her time! They all agree that Verindar is the problem, she is bully that reduces staff to tears. The staff aren't paid on time and when they are paid it isn't payment in full and when they chased payment she called the cops on them, they also believe she took a cut of their tips.

Gordon arrives, the windows on the door are smashed, the wall paper is peeling off and there are bullet holes in the wall. He meets Verindar who tells Gordon that the glass has been broken for over 10 years and that she has never owned a hotel. He goes to check into his hotel room and discovers that the clock at the top of the stairs is  filthy, caked in years of dust. The housekeeper arrives, there is no programme of cleaning and there is a bizarre miniature table and chairs. They discuss the hotel and she tells Gordon about the mould in the hotel, she takes him upstairs to find mouldy shower curtains, carpets, yellow pillow cases, grey and yellow curtains, rubbish in the chest of drawers and he discovers that the owner has been in the rooms once. Gordon goes to his room, room 201 and finds dust on everything, a stain on the ceiling and he rips the curtain around the bed. 

Gordon goes down to the restaurant where he meets Tammy who tells Gordon that they are doing 350 events a year and the events are keeping the business afloat. Gordon orders some staple items from the menu,  the french onion soup, which was tasteless, a cauliflower steak which is a mess and a crab sandwich, straight from a can. Gordon had ordered a burger but he cancels it through fear of his limited pants supply. Gordon meets chefs Macio and Barry, there is no Head Chef in the kitchen and Gordon tells Verindar he has met her past employees. Verindar blames the staff saying they aren't good enough and Gordon calls her out on calling the police on staff coming to the hotel seeking their wages. Verindar denies calling the police on ex staff but a current member in a voice over says she has heard her call the police multiple times.

Gordon meets receptionist Jessica who introduces Gordon to CJ, who tells Gordon that he is there less than once a month as he works as an IT manager. When they first bought the hotel they were told it was hands off but they are not making money on their investment. Jessica tells Gordon reluctantly that Verindar is the problem and CJ is firmly in the middle as employees will come to him with problems. Verindar is in the kitchen on the hot plate and shouting at the staff in the kitchen and confusing the servers by giving them the wrong food. Verindar begins cooking which leads to Gordon going behind the line and discovering filth behind a fryer and above the hot plate, she claims it is from yesterday. They tell Gordon they clean the line only and Gordon finds a pot of thick, black grease that is a severe fire risk. 

Gordon gets out his bacteria testing kit and tests the vents, they give a reading of 573, a stained chair gives a reading of 446 and the shower curtain gives a rating of 5680, miles above the danger zone of 30! The results drive Gordon into room 301, where paying guests are staying. He shows them the mould in the carpet, tells them about the mould in the shower and they are outraged as they had just taken a shower. Gordon sets off the fire alarm and evacuates the hotel. A guest is angry and rightfully has a pop at the owner as she has a huge smile on her face! Gordon refuses to allow the guests to either eat or stay at the hotel by closing the hotel. Verindar blames the staff for the problems, she claims the staff are stealing from her, on their phones and disrespecting her. 

Gordon arranges to meet the staff and Verindar is nowhere to be found, she doesn't want to meet in front of the staff. He eventually finds her and they talk about staff, she blames all staff for the actions of a few bad staff . The staff outline their concerns, a 90 person funeral was staffed by only 2 servers, this is blamed on a budget issue. The staffing schedules aren't controlled by the kitchen and are changed at short notice, team meetings become a shouting match and Gordon notices there is a very tense atmosphere. A chef is accused of being on his phone, he is adamant that he doesn't and she admits that it isn't him. She accuses the staff of stealing, drinking on the job and sneaking shots from the bar but Gordon steps in and says that isn't the current staff who are doing this and she must stop blaming them from the past. Verindar says she will try and trust them but makes no promises. 

Gordon meets CJ privately to try and make further progress with Verindar, Gordon tells him that she is being a dictator and is running the business into the ground. He admits she has struggled to adapt culturally and she has said she wants to step away to spend more time with the family. The hotel is renovated over night, with the lobby and the hotel room Gordon is staying in getting a makeover, Gordon gets a hug from Verindar. The menu is also given a makeover that will suit both casual dining and the large functions they hold.   For relaunch, locals are invited for a dinner service but also to tour the newly renovated hotel rooms. They love the new food and the kitchen is running smoother. With his presence CJ is able to prevent his mother returning to her old habits.

What Happened Next? 

After leaving the hotel, Gordon reports that the reputation was on the mend, CJ is more present which has allowed Verindar to step back allowing the staff to do their jobs and employee turn over is at an all time low. Since Gordon visited the manager has responded to online criticism by saying that a large renovation is planned for the upcoming months. Yelp and Trip Advisor Reviews for the restaurant are mostly negative and some receipts posted on Yelp appear to show some higher than expected prices. 

Extra Reading

Brick Hotel Yelp Reviews

Brick Hotel Trip Advisor Reviews

Hotel Hell: Brick Hotel Ex-Employees Say “Whacko” Owners Didn’t Pay

Newtown's The Brick Hotel is Out of Hotel Hell

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