Lela's - Kitchen Nightmares Update - Open or Closed?

Kitchen Nightmares Lelas

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Gordon Ramsay visits Lela's in downtown Pomona, California.

Lela's is a fine dining restaurant, owned by Lela Guillen. The restaurant has only been open for 8 months but is days away from closing.

Lela has invested her savings and cashed in her retirement to fund the restaurant and currently owes $124,000 including $60,000 she borrowed from her.

She has problems with her staff as waitress Tabitha and Chef Ricky do not get along and frequently argue in front of customers.

Gordon arrives and compares the very quiet area to a ghost town and the restaurant is empty too.

Gordon is impressed with how clean the restaurant is. He meets Tabitha and notices the spelling mistakes on the menu.

Many of the items Gordon wants to order are unavailable including shrimps and salmon and Tabitha isn't happy to tell Gordon items are not available.

From the limited menu he orders tomato and basil soup, nachos and rack of lamb with a mint chocolate sauce.

When it arrives the food is disappointing, the fresh soup tastes canned, the nachos taste old and the lamb has no meat on the bones.

Gordon asks Tabitha if anything on the menu is fresh and is told that it is all frozen. The nachos were also made the day before.

Gordon asks if anything on the menu is home made on the premises and they make brownies so he orders one but a huge argument breaks out between Tabitha and Ricky as there are no brownies left.

Gordon arrives the next day and decides to inspect the kitchen.

The walk-in isn't cold, it smells and there is congealed blood in the bottom. As the fridge is too hot all of the produce in it is going bad.

Gordon asks the staff deep clean the dining room and kitchen, including the disgusting walk in.

Whilst they are cleaning the restaurant, Gordon goes into town to find out how the locals feel about fine dining.

In the town he finds it is young and vibrant and has lot of young hip people who like to eat good food but who can't afford fine dining.

No one he speaks to has been to Lela's and they eat at the local Mexican restaurants as they are more in their price range.

Gordon returns and is pleased with how clean the restaurant now is. He wants to observe a dinner service and it is busier than usual due to a theatre performance nearby.

The service is a disaster as the kitchen runs out of many of the dishes on the menu and they serve the customers powdered mash potato.

Lela is shocked and tells Gordon that she didn't know that they were serving instant potatoes and says she thinks he is a little lazy.

Buzzard is constantly eating and the kitchen staff are very laid back, chatting and Ricky is on his mobile phone.

Buzzard decides to leave early and walks off without permission and Gordon catches up with him and asks him to return to the restaurant.

He returns and his goody bag containing a sandwich, salad, lamb, pasta and a bottle of wine is unpacked and revealed to Lela.

One of the other staff members say that he hasn't seen him do it in a while, suggesting that he has done it before and Riky suggests they thought he was stealing but hadn't caught him.

After the service Gordon asks Ricky where his professionalism is and tells him that he isn't an Executive Chef if he is serving powdered mash.

The next morning, Buzzard returns to the restaurant and Gordon confronts him about the goody bag, telling him that nothing should get taken from the premises without permission.

Lela has no option other than to fire him for stealing from her.

Gordon sets up a taste test to see what the Chefs know about food and if they can taste the difference between meats.

Ricky struggles to tell the difference between chicken, pork and beef, whereas sous chef Lex gets them all correct.

In light of the taste test Gordon suggests they switch places for the service, Ricky is annoyed but agrees.

Gordon sends Lela off for a pampering day whilst the team gets to work making changes at the restaurant.

The new menu is revealed and the waitresses sample the new dishes including a Pomona salad.

He adds that a good burger is needed as no one else serves them and he reveals Lela's Famous Burger as a special.

Gordon sends them out onto the street with a catering truck full of burgers to promote them to the locals.

The locals are thrilled with the burgers and are pleased to hear there will be a new restaurant they can try.

Whilst they are out, the makeover team are in and redesign the restaurant.

Both Lela and the restaurants new look are revealed and the staff are over the moon, Tabitha bursts into tears.

For relaunch night, Gordon asks Tabitha to manage the restaurant and Lex to be the head chef with Rickys support.

Gordon has invited local artists, students, car enthusiasts and the mayor to the fully booked restaurant.

The waitresses do an excellent job at the front of house but Lex struggles in the kitchen as Executive Chef and with no food leaving in the first 30 minutes he has a meltdown.

The food comes out erratically and some tables are missing dishes. As the customers start complaining the waitresses panic and grab whatever food they see.

Lex walks out and Lela follows him to shout at him but Lex drives off. Ricky steps up and takes over the kitchen.

With Ricky back in control the food starts to go out and everyone is impressed with the food including the mayor branding the salad the official meal for Pomona.

Lex returns to the kitchen to finish the service but as Ricky's assistant.

Gordon congratulates Ricky and admits that he really proved Gordon wrong by stepping up.

What Happened Next at Lela's?

At the end of the episode we hear that both Ricky and Tabitha excelled in their roles as Executive Chef and Manager.

Lela's closed in 2007 as although business had improved Lela's debts were too high.

Yelp reviews were mostly negative.

In it's place now is Aladdin Jr Restaurant & Cafe, an Arab restaurant with good reviews.

After Lela's Ricky went on to become Executive Chef at The Corner Butcher Shop in La Verne.

He later worked for Silver Spoon Catering and is currently working at Hollywood Park Casino.

Lela's aired on November 21 2007, the episode was filmed in February 2007 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 1 episode 8.

This post was last updated in March 2023.


  1. The owner should have listened to Tabitha who nailed it all along. Yeah, she sounded "rough" but was right to do so since we're talking about crooks in the kitchen. I wish Tabitha the best and hope she gets a new job where she can be respected. Just sad.

  2. debts too high and not enough money coming in? sound like the government.

    1. Government can print its own money, unlike a restaurant.

    2. Goddamn! Print its own money? What are you, twelve?

    3. To the guy above me, you're the one who should be questioned of age. The government can print more money or destroy money currently in circulation based on how well the economy is going. While it may seem weird why they don't just print money all the time, that's how the value of a country's currency drop. They print more money to compromise for the missing money but the missing money is still considered as part of the economy's money but is in negative value.

  3. A few observations from this ep:

    - Lela seemed to be the same kind of on-the-ball, take-charge restaurant owner with a great sense for what makes a successful business just like Sue, the owner of Bonaparte's [sarcasm intended].

    - Buzzard was a parasite, but Gordon's chasing him down in the street and dragging him back over food that people didn't eat was a new low point for him and his show, and as you can imagine, that's up against some pretty stiff competition (from all of the other low points this show manages).

    - I would have given that Tabitha about 5 days to STOP her constant shouting, and if she couldn't rein it in, then I'd can her. Yes, other people yelled, but she seemed to be the main instigator/offender.

    1. "Buzzard was a parasite, but Gordon's chasing him down in the street and dragging him back over food that people didn't eat was a new low point for him and his show"

      Don't forget the bottles of wine which he didn't pay for.

    2. Tabitha might not have been the nicest person, but she nailed what was wrong with the place and was honest with Ramsay. The others didn't seem to care about Lela at all. Also, he did the right thing chasing that thief. "Food that people didn't eat" yeah like those brownies Ramsay ordered or those bottles of wine? You sir, have no idea what you're talking about. As we say in my country, you missed a great opportunity to be quiet.

  4. Watching the rerun of this episode on FYI (formerly Bio) and I noticed that the postscript indicating that Lela's had closed has now been edited out of the episode.

  5. If Buzzard would steal half bottles & returns, he would steal full bottles & whole sides. Once you allow any theft in your business you are doomed & all will think it's o.k.

  6. So far as I could tell from watching the episode, Lela had virtually no involvement in anything having to do with running the restaurant. When Gordon sent her off to the spa' I was like, "Why? What exactly does she need a respite from? Her own complete apathy and neglect?" Gordon had to practically corner her into firing someone who was STEALING from her, for Christ's sake!

    One of the worst owners ever on KN. She more than deserved to fail.

  7. I hope Buzzard is in jail where he belongs.

  8. Watching this episode on Hulu. That Ricky guy, the "executive chef" needs to go work in a McDonald's kitchen. I would have fired him as soon as he started with that attitude. The owner was weak and irritating. Tabitha's frustration had merit.

    1. Yea but he's got "diamonds on his fish". He's going places, he could work at Wendy's or Carl's Jr., I think a Chic-fil-a would be a reach school for Ricky but he should at least apply. Yea...going places.

    2. have you watched the complete episode, where he took over after Lex left and pretty much saved the day and got big compliments from Gordon?

    3. I really didn't like Ricky at that start either but man did I love him by the end.You people haven't watched the full episode if you didn't see how much he matured and became a better chef.

  9. The owner Leyla was a sweet lady. I just think starting a restaurant was a mistake for her; either because of poor planning or no clue as to how owning and running a restaurant is supposed to go. And I believe she was Sincerly hoping it would all workout for the best. I don't blame her alone. It was a failur for many reasons. Kudos and a high five to The chef Ricky for stepping up and pulling every thing together at the end .

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

    1. Buzzard probably started stealing once he figured out what he could get away with. And everyone in that kitchen knew what he was doing so they are equally as guilty. And he probably wasn't the only one stealing. When a kitchen is busy there can be a lot of confusion and it's easy to grab what you want.

      And if you're yelling/swearing in the back of house everyone in the front of house can hear it.

  11. Everyone who worked as a waiter will totally get Tabitha's frustration. When the kitchen is a mess like this and you have to apologize to the customers over and over and over and over... this really drives you crazy. Honestly, that could have been me.

  12. I definitely agree Lela is very creepy, she seems kind of like how Verinda was for the Brick Hotel, benignly smiling while the customers are outraged and the restaurant is burning down all around her. Its like her saying 'I didn't even know he used mashed potato' like, how can you not know, its your business. But then again if she lets thief's rule the roost.. what can we expect.

  13. After this restaurant closed down, I feel sorry for Tabitha the most. Honestly, she even said she can't leave the owner, because the owner is clearly too helpless to manage the restaurant.


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