Kitchen Nightmares - Handlebar - CLOSED

Kitchen Nightmares Handlebar

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Handlebar in Mount Sinai, New York.

Handlebar is owned by couple Carolyn and Billy LeRoy, who bought the bar and restaurant on impulse a year ago.

Billy is a former construction worker and Carolyn has a day job and neither has experience of owning a restaurant.

When they bought Handlebar restaurant they saw it was rundown but thought that it had potential.

The Handlebar was popular with local diners but they stopped coming and most of the income started coming from the bar.

They aren't sure why they are struggling to fill the restaurant as they believe the food is excellent and the bar is constantly packed.

Billy’s attitude and lack of support is a problem along with the dated 80s themed décor that Bill loves.

They have a reluctant chef who has little skill in the kitchen and the owners are oblivious to it.

The couple are close to losing their home and are relying on bank loans to keep the doors open.

Gordon gets lost on the way to the restaurant and has to call to get directions.

Gordon arrives and is greeted by the owners.

He is offered 4 menus and gets confused as to what to order before eventually settling on Clam Chowder (the soup of the day), a seafood crepe and a fillet mignon fondue.

He isn't impressed with the dated décor from the 80s and the empty dining room as no one else is eating.

Gordon likes the chowder and tells Billy how delicious and well seasoned it is!

The seafood crepe is rubbery, overcooked and filled with imitation crab meat, which does not impress Gordon

After waiting 30 minutes, the fillet mignon fondue is rancid and he wonders why great steak needs ruined by the hot oil.

Carolyn breaks down after Gordon gives criticism of all of the dishes that he is served.

Gordon speaks to the owners and finds out they are oblivious to real problem of the terrible food they are serving.

He meets Melissa who tells Gordon she isn't a chef, more of a cook and that she doesn't really enjoy cooking...

She only filled the role and thought it would be temporary.

Gordon observes dinner service and watches Melissa sending out poor quality food from the kitchen.

The mashed potatoes are mixed with powder potatoes, the fries are burnt and they run out of vegetables.

Melissa suggests sending out raw radishes in place of vegetables.

Customers complain about the food they receive but Billy is still defensive about the food.

The next morning, Gordon inspects the kitchen and finds unlabelled food, fresh broccoli, grime at the back of the fridge and rotten clams.

Melissa and Billy say the fridge has been cleaned recently and it used to be much worse.

Gordon does not like the excuses and shows them the broccoli, even though they said they ran out of vegetables the night before.

They still insist it was cleaned a week before but Gordon can tell they are either lying or letting a lot slip through the cracks.

Melissa gets the wait staff to do a thorough clean up of the kitchen while Billy sulks.

Gordon talks to Billy trying to make him see the issues but he can’t take the criticism and refuses to talk with Gordon, walking away from the cameras.

Gordon is puzzled by the behaviour and staff tell him he is just ashamed but wants his help.

Staff go ahead to talk to Billy but it seems to seal his resolve and he disappears off cameras to call his wife and tell her that they are selling the restaurant.

Carolyn arrives and she is upset and confused. Gordon convinces her to try one last time and run the restaurant that night.

She is shown the staff dedication as they clean the walk-in and they all agree to give their best that night.

Carolyn leaves a message with Bill about their last-ditch effort to save the restaurant.

Gordon takes some one-on-one time with Mellissa on the night’s specials.

They will serve fresh fried clams with Tartar sauce and fresh homemade potato chips.

That night, the specials start leaving the kitchen and customers are full of praise for the dishes.

Bill makes an appearance during service to support his wife.

Not long into the service Melissa stops communicating in the kitchen and this causes long wait times and food getting served to the wrong tables.

Customers get frustrated, heated and end up arguing with each other.

Gordon takes Billy outside who lets out his frustration with his restaurant and how the dinner service fell apart.

Gordon points out the problems and Bill agrees on the changes needed to be made.

After the service, they have a staff meeting and they agree on a needed trimmed down menu that would be easier for the kitchen.

Gordon’s team work all night to revamp the restaurant and it has been brightened up and modernised, removing all the dated 80s decor.

The Handlebar is now Long Island’s first Gastropub, which is a restaurant with an emphasis on fine food for less.

Gordon planned a first annual motorcycle rally, since the owners are motorcycle riders to publicise the relaunch night.

And as an added surprise Dee Snider from Twisted Sisters comes in with his motorcycle to join in the rally.

The owners and Chef Ramsey join the rally, ride and share flyers to the public.

Gordon introduces their new menu back at the restaurant and they are ready for the relaunch.

Lots of customers arrive for the relaunch and Bill is eager to show off the changes.

In the kitchen, Melissa is struggles to communicate once again and it starts becoming a problem.

Gordon introduces Dee Snider again and he comes in on a Harley which will be auctioned off through the Handlebar website with the proceeds donated to charity.

A burnt salmon dish is sent back to the kitchen and the replacement dish is undercooked.

Melissa is not asking for help and trying to do everything herself. She is clearly flustered and her staff have to step in and take over for her.

The salmon is finally sent out correctly. Melissa finally works with her team and is communicative and the relaunch is a success.



What Happened Next at Handlebar?


Yelp reviews after the show filmed were average.

Gordon revisits a year later in a Kitchen Nightmares revisited episode and Handlebar is still open with happier owners.

Billy is still stubborn but a little less so and Melissa is still in the kitchen, much to Gordon's surprise.

The walk-in is immaculate and the filet he orders is tender and delicious.

Handlebar closed in 2009 shortly after the revisit episode was filmed and the restaurant was sold.

Sadly, Billy from Handlebar passed away from cancer in November 2015.

The restaurant reopened in 2010 as Skybox Restaurant and Sports Bar, which closed in 2011.

Yelp reviews prior to the closure were average.

The restaurant later opened as Benchwarmers Tavern and Grill, a sports bar and it is still open with better reviews than it's predecessors.

Handlebar aired on September 11 2008, the episode was filmed in February 2008 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 2 episode 1.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

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Next episode - Giuseppi's

This post was last updated in January 2021.

10 comments:

  1. Gordon Ramsay is a genius restaurateur who should be applauded for his zeal to help those in trouble. I watch in amazement as he and his team transforms the look of a restaurant and then see how he conjures up a really simple menus that everyone can love. His genius is exemplified by his ability to present food in elegant and simplistic ways that made even the cook who didn't like cooking look good. No one to blame for the failure of this restaurant but the self-centered, egomaniac owner who is so immature that he is incapable of showing appreciation for the gift Gordon and crew handed him. disgusting to see such benevolence wasted.

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    1. You also have to understand alot of these restaurants are months maybe even weeks from closing so there is not alot he can do to save them

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  2. Not sure if anyone noticed but Mick Foley (aka Mankind from WWF) went to the relaunch night.

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    1. Yes, I know for a fact that was Mick Foley. Him and Dee are neighbors and have been friends for a number of years. I refuse to confirm anything other than that because I believe that would be an invasion of privacy of 2 great guys who are afforded very little privacy as it is.

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    2. It was him I rewound and paused it and zoomed in to make sure.

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  3. If I recall correctly, the motorcycle that was up for bid never hit the reserve and went unsold. Pretty sure it was on ebay.

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  4. That was Dee he goes to quite a few biker events he just don't go to clubhouses... RIP BILLY I just found out he was gone .We all have our issues & if you don't walk a mile in someone's shoes you know nothing about them .

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