Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - The Priory - CLOSED

Kitchen Nightmares The Priory

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits The Priory in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

The Priory is a 100-seater restaurant in a young thriving community but the customers are mostly elderly.

Scott bought the restaurant 6 weeks ago for £300,000 but almost immediately he started losing £5,000 a week.

The former IT consultant bought the business because of the beautiful building, which is the converted chapel of a 19th century convent.

He bought the restaurant despite having no experience of running a restaurant.

Gordon arrives and is amazed by the beauty of the place and he meets Scott.

Gordon notices he is the youngest person in the whole restaurant.

Gordon is surprised when he discovers that they are serving a carvery.

He remarks that the last carvery he went to one was a Bernie Inn in the 1970s.

It soon becomes clear why they restaurant is popular with the over 50s, they have all bought their vouchers cut out of the local newspapers.

The voucher entitles them to 50% off carveries, they are getting two carveries for the bargain price of just ten pounds.

Gordon speaks to the customers who are eating in the restaurant and they compliment the value, remarking that it is cheaper to eat here than cooking at home.

Toby is the head chef and has experience at Planet Hollywood and Bob is the carvery chef who only works part time.

Gordon gets a loaded plate of carvery from the buffet line, all for just £5 with a voucher.

On tasting the carvery the potatoes are burned, the stuffing is tough, the Yorkshire pudding is soggy and both the turkey and beef are dry.

Gordon then goes to the kitchen and meets the general manager Matt, who has trained as a chef and the cooks.

Gordon gives them the feedback on their meals and the marketing strategy with the vouchers.

Gordon inspects their freezer and finds half carved joints, stored for reuse.

It doesn’t take long to find spoilt meat and warm meat wrapped in cling film, a breeding ground for bacteria.

Gordon then finds a bucket of broccoli soup and Toby says that he hadn’t got round to finishing it.

There are frozen yorkshire puddings, packaged sauces and pre peeled and cut potatoes.

Toby insists the spoiled food won’t be served but Gordon doesn’t believe him.

Gordon believes Toby is lazy and Scott is clueless about what is happening.

In the kitchen he finds dirty ovens with charred food remains, grimy equipment and cookers, mouldy cauliflower and stale parsnips.

He condemns the kitchen and wraps it in hazard tape.

He shows the staff everything he has found and Toby says it is his fault as he was the last to leave.

Scott says he has told them to clean up often but never actually checked that they followed his instructions.

Matt is also oblivious of the state of the kitchen.

Gordon then uses a confessional to talk to the remaining staff about the restaurant.

Toby admits to being in a rut and Matt admits to failing to motivate the staff as he is deflated.

Gordon's plan is to turn the restaurant into a grill specialising in good steaks and ditch the buy one get one free carveries that aren't making money.

He takes the staff to a local farm to introduce them to his new concept and they are tested on beef cuts.

He completely refits the kitchen with £6000 of new grill equipment and a chipper and introduces the idea of cooking fresh, local produce.

Scott is worried about the radical change in direction as the carvery has been there for over 20 years.

Gordon also informs Matt that they need to end their voucher offer so they can make 100% of the money from food sales.

Scott agrees to the idea the next day and Gordon has a plan.

He will do a trial menu of simple dishes that he will teach the kitchen staff and plans to charge £20 per meal.

Locals attend and Gordon has invited local clergymen and the Bishop of Sussex, who attend the service.

Before the service, Gordon asks them to bless the service and the kitchen.

The first order is called and Bob makes a mistake on the salad.

The courgettes take too long and Toby goes quiet on the grill, forgetting to season the chicken.

The orders pile up and people are waiting for two hours for their main courses.

The kitchen is cracking under the pressure and Toby is given some time to get himself together outside while Gordon helps cook.

Scott is the only one left outside to deal with the customers and they are threatening to not pay for their dinner.

At midnight, they close the kitchen and Gordon gives feedback.

He makes the change of having Matt lead the kitchen the next day and the kitchen needs to learn to work as a team.

The next day, Gordon has devised a marketing strategy to give out sample steak sandwiches at the train station to get the wealthy commuters to come to the Priory.

On relaunch night, their efforts pay off as a much younger crowd have shown up and there are 80 bookings.

In the kitchen, Matt is the head chef and expediter.

He is vocal and communicates well.

It pays off as good food goes out with minimal problems.

Toby throws tantrums in the kitchen but Matt keeps his cool and controls the situation.

The customers are happy with the food and don’t miss the carvery.

Scott is happy at the earnings of the night so far and excited at the prospects.

Gordon commends Matt on his focus and lets him know he is the key to their success.



What Happened Next at The Priory?


Gordon revisits six weeks later and they hadn't listened to his advice.

They weren't putting the message out that they were a grill and have lost two thirds of their business.

The carvery had returned for one day a week and Matt is still in the kitchen.

Toby was no longer working at the Priory after being sacked for serving spolied chicken.

Gordon takes to the streets to advertise the restaurant and for that evening service they are fully booked.

In 2008 they reverted fully back to a carvery and lowered the prices, at the customers request with mixed reviews.

They also hired a new chef Aimé Zbinden.

The Priory closed in 2008 and became La Capilla, a Spanish tapas restaurant.

La Capilla closed in 2010 and the building was put up for sale in 2012.

The building remained up for sale until it was sold for £350,000 in 2017.

Planning permission to turn The Priory into apartments was submitted and rejected in 2017.

The Priory aired on November 27 2007, the episode was filmed in August 2007 and is Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares UK season 5 episode 5.


Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Piccolo Teatro

Next episode - The Fish and Anchor

This post was last updated in March 2021.

28 comments:

  1. If you have people coming in expecting it to be a carvery, then I'm not surprised they went back. Unlike Gordon who is a food fashion freak, most people only care about their food tasting good, not about how fashionable it is and a carvery CAN be great. Gordon always tries to bully his opinion onto the restaurant owners even if there are other main cases for the failure (in this case, the prices which were too low).

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    1. You are so wrong Red Avatar. No disrespect but i have worked in the industri for 15 years and i know what works. People want value for money. It has nothing to do with "food fashion" as you call it. You have to remember that Gordon only has 1 week to make an impact on the Priory.

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    2. "most people only care about their food tasting good" Those 700 covers a week with the carvery were there for the value not the quality, for there was none. The locals saying they wanted the carvery back were the very same locals who were slowly putting them out of business with those 50% off coupons.

      The grill failed because they didn't market it, and they had the customers to support it. They instead decided to support the customers who want crap cheap food. I can't believe they gave up after six weeks with no effort to market. The owner was a coward.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    4. The customers wanted the carvery back because they paid £5 for their meal and they didn't want it gone. Never mind that £5 a cover lands the owner in debt and misery.

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    5. Buffet restaurants basically died in the 90's.

      The only ones that ever make any money are the chinese food buffets because they can leverage their relatively low food costs and turn a profit on every plate of food that is sold.

      Traditional carvery/buffet style restaurants lose money hand over fist because they offer higher end items like roast beef as prices that are lower than they would be if it were on a menu as a stand alone item.

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    6. His 'bulling' is more like a drill sergeant technique because most of these people are very reluctant to change.
      Of course their would be the old elderly customers who would be angry that they couldnt get their $5 meal anymore but as a restaurant owner, at the end of the day you need to be making money. He didnt want to change it to a grill, obvious by his reaction when the old equipment was taken away. The old chefs also prefered the carvery as they didnt have to cook to service, they could make things a day before, heat it up and then sit down for hours. Most of the owners on KN have little or no experience owning or managing a restaurant they just have money to waste. why not practice and work 1 year in an established restaurant to understand how it runs before even thinking of opening your own place. and if you are losing 5000 a week, thats 260k a year, more than most peoples annual incomes, you listen to what Gordon Ramsay has to say.

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    7. I think you have forgotten they asked for Gordon's help. His idea as a grill worked and they were making money. Yes the old folks probably wanted the carvery back because they ate for so cheap. But the business was failing. And surprise!!!! Its closed now. Gordon knows what hes doing it's the people who dont listen to him and go back to their old failing ways. Dont blame gordon. He left the restaurant in great shape and making money. The owner listened to the old people begging for the carvery and guess what?? His customers shut him down. Stupid owner!!

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  2. Your assessment is idiotic. Gordon's personality clashes with yours and that's it. The place was losing money and I severely doubt that the ONLY reason the carvery was losing business was because it was giving food away. If they DIDN'T have that voucher do you think that they would even have those half turning out anyway? The place's image and branding were dying and you blame Gordon for its lack of success? The guy's never run a business before let alone a restaurant! He wasn't even marketing the grill! How could you possibly defend weaklings like that? They knew what they were signing up for by bringing Gordon in, and they failed anyway after they reverted back - it even says their food was mediocre at best! Bullied? Cry me a river. Don't sign up for the show, stagnate and fail anyway. Good riddance.

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  3. Hey you two! Quit your back and forth bickering. Just finished watching the episode. What was up with Toby? Talk about more emotional than a woman PMSing! As for the church atmosphere, WOW. How uncomfortable would that be eating your food with pictures of Jesus dying all around you? yuck. Overall we rate this episode a 7.9 on the Official Kitchen Nightmare Index Scale Rating System. The low score is relective of the lack of conflict between Ramsay and the staff.

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    1. I thought the ambiance of the place seemed stunning. As an ex-Catholic, depictions of Christ on the cross wouldn't put me off one bit. Would love to eat in a place like that (if the food's good, of course).

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  4. The owner struck me as not really wanting the restaurant to succeed. You don't buy a failling restaurant unless you have a plan how to make it work (unless the 2-for-1 vouchers were the plan). I wouldn't be surprise if it was some sort of tax write-off scam.

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    1. When my parents were young and naive in the 1950's they fell victim to a scam. The roadside dinner they bought was filled to capacity for the morning and lunch crowd, it was packed with truck drivers, It wasn't till after they bought the place that they found out the previous owners were giving away free packs of cigarettes with every meal, the drivers were going out of their way for the free smokes, it put the books in the negative, as soon as the free cigs stopped the customers went elsewhere. Customers can be like the snails that eat the lettuce in your garden at night if you let them ! Its up to the owner to attract the customers with money, the cheapskates and bargain hunters might be outspoken, but the money is the final bottom line !!

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  5. The bit where Bob shows Gordon the carvery and you get that Jaws-style organ music had me in absolute stitches when I first saw this episode. It was so funny I almost stopped breathing :) - Steve

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  6. I thought it was the music from "Psycho"... y'know, all the cutting?

    This is one of my favorite episodes of KN. It's got everything I like about this show, including a magnificently gross kitchen. (Although that's probably just because I hate cleaning out my own fridge and enjoy seeing others that are in much worse shape than mine will ever be!)

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  7. This was where the rot set in for the Kitchen Nightmares UK, the final shots of the restaurant being busy 6 weeks later are edited in from earlier, it's the same people...totally faked. See for yourself

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  8. Reading the comments the owner said blasting Ramsay made me angry. What a little rat. He knew nothing about the business, wouldn't listen to good advice, refused to put any effort into turning his restaurant around and then blamed Gordon when it failed? Ugh!

    Stupid little weasel. Well, he had a kid on the way, if his wife had to brain cells to rub together she'd have left his sorry, cowardly, idiot behind by now.

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  9. It is sad to see a restaurant like this close, management needs to realize that there is no shortcut to success, it will always require hard work and passion.

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  10. Very well said. The industry keeps evolving, hence change needs to be embraced without losing a sense of identity (if that makes sense). I'm a big fan of the series because I admire the strategies that Chef Ramsay have suggested to the restaurant staff; covering the kitchen staff, dining staff, manager, and owner. It's a damn good 360 degree of an assessment, training, and development course. As for the "bullying", I think it's more of emphasising a "sense of urgency" that is crucially lacking. You can always see in the episodes that Chef Ramsay always shows support and encouragement after the harsh part. Bullies never show that side, no?

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  11. Chrichton's World:
    Just seen the episode and the owner was incredibly passive. He had no idea how to run a restaurant and still had the audacity to ignore Gordon's advice. Every time Gordon went out on the streets to attract people he managed to very easily. And he only handed out flyer's and gave the people a taste of the food. In the end it is the good food that people will come back for. The owner did not understand that. Like him I have seen many others who think it should be about the quantity instead of the quality. But if you serve bad food how many of the people will come back? Focus on preparing good and delicious food and maintain that and eventually word to mouth will give you good press. However with many of these measures it takes time for it to take effect. The owner who is a downright idiot wanted a quick solution and that never works in any kind of business.

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  12. Of course the customers wanted the carvery back, they were eating for 5 pound a meal.

    But if you can't run a business like that. And if you think it's the way to go as a manager than you clearly haven't gotten a clue.

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  13. I am kind of surprised they were complaining about the drop in weekly covers from 700 to 230 people. On the surface that sounds devastatingly bad, but it really isn't. The owner quoted about £40 per head on the relaunch night versus £5 per head with the carvery. Using those numbers they should have still been WAY up. With the grill they should have been doing 230 x £40 = £9200 versus with the carvery only about 700 x £5 = £3500. Even if they had dropped the vouchers and charged full price it would have only been £7000. Something seems really off.

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    1. The food costs would have gone up considerably as a grill, because instead of a few cheap hunks of meat lasting all week, they'd have served a variety of quality steaks. That said, I agree they could've turned a considerable profit if they'd stuck with it. They couldn't do worse than losing 5K per week, that's for sure.

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  14. One thing I don't quite understand is why you never see the KN team call in the local Health authorities to close down these places - OFFICIALLY. This can be done in the UK; I don't know how the system works in the USA. Obviously Gordon can unofficially "close down" a kitchen until it is cleaned thoroughly and equipment is replaced, but the local authorities closing down a restaurant - and prosecuting if necessary - carries far more clout.

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    1. If the restaurant is closed down, then they can't very well do a Kitchen Nightmares show. They need to have the before and after, not just before. Restaurant closes. End of show.

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  15. 5 pound a head because it was buy one get one free, 4 chefs wages a few managers and an owners wage to take out of that so say they do 100 covers a day thats 500 pound in the till 4 chefs to pay, managers, owner, gas, electric, produce etc the numbers do not add up im not surprised Gordon ditched the draining carvery, all these negative comments about Gordon often come from people not in the catering trade and would rather have something for nothing rather than look at it as a business point of view because if its not making money whats it all worth???

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  16. As agreed above. The blue rinse brigade wanting something for nothing and moaning when the voucher day disappeared. How can you make a profit from that? I’ve seen it myself in the pub trade. Greed takes over on both sides. Serve him right for not listening to Gordon.

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  17. This was one of the biggest misses in this whole series. An absolutely beautiful building, a young hard working chef who was competent as a GM as well! Scott just didn't want to change.

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