Kitchen Nightmares - Black Pearl - CLOSED

Kitchen Nightmares Black Pearl

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Black Pearl in New York City, New York.

Black Pearl is owned by three owners Brian, David and Greg.

The three owners do not get along and are never in the restaurant at the same time.

Black Pearl is a seafood restaurant specializing in lobster.

The restaurant started out as a small downtown lobster shack downtown owned by Brian and David.

David suggested they put an ad in a newspaper for a third investor and found Greg.

They then moved to mid-town adding third partner Greg.

The owners hoped to become the premiere lobster restaurant in Manhattan.

The relationships between the three owners were good until they started to lose money.

The relationships declined dramatically and they stopped talking to each other.

They only communicated via email or text and everybody got nervous and frustrated.

Brian states that the restaurant is a nightmare due to lack of management as they don’t have one voice.

The staff think Brian is a silent partner who would bail if he had a choice.

They also think that Greg is the hardest working owner but doesn’t make decisions and gets frustrated too easily.

Out of the three owners, they like David the least as he lets his ego get in the way of a healthy atmosphere.

Gordon arrives and is greeted by Nigel and Steven and some other staff.

They tell him that the three owners are never at the restaurant together.

While talking with the staff, David comes into the restaurant unexpectedly.

He claims that he is a hands-on owner and is at the restaurant three to four days a week.

Gordon orders clam chowder, lobster mac and cheese and all three of the lobster rolls from server Steven.

While awaiting his order, Gordon notices the weird bar and the bizarre mismatched interior.

He comments that the restaurant looks like it has been decorated by three different people.

The chowder is watery, the mac and cheese is chewy and rich and he's not impressed with the bland, unseasoned lobster rolls either.

After tasting the best food on the menu, Gordon meets the three owners and head chef, Phil.

He is critical on the food he tried, especially the lobster rolls, which he brands as bland and unseasoned.

David is defensive of the food and says that the maine lobster roll is authentic as they don’t season them.

He discovers that the restaurant is currently $250,000 in debt.

They say that they haven’t sat down together to decide things but vote on the way forward whenever any of them proposes an idea.

Gordon tells them he doesn’t feel that any of them are committed to making the business work.

Greg says he has fallen out with the other two few times in the past as he feels they aren’t doing the things they need to do and they say they feel the same about him.

Gordon decides to witness how the restaurant operates its dinner service, especially on a night in which all three owners are there.

David works the service station and is also expediting in the kitchen.

His lack of experience is resulting in lack of quality control and food is sent back.

Steven feels the disorganization is due to the owners competing amidst themselves.

The owners are all trying to prove to chef Ramsay that they know what they are doing.

Greg was out of his element as he normally was in the kitchen but was waiting the dining room instead as David has taken over.

David gets upset when a table sends back a dish for grit in the mussels and argues with the customer that made the complaint.

Gordon inspects one of the dishes that was returned and says that the food has a weird, old smell that David denies.

Gordon confronts David’s denial, calling him blind and clueless.

Concerned about the quality control and the truthfulness of the owners, Gordon investigates the storage unit of the kitchen.

After service, Gordon comments that he is concerned with the disorganization of the restaurant.

David says he expedites every night he is around but the chefs disagree.

Gordon tells David they are advertising Maine Lobster but are serving Canadian lobster.

David tries to argue that it is acceptable as they are the same animal.

Gordon makes it clear that they are misleading customers by listing it as Maine lobster.

The next morning, Gordon calls a staff meeting, which is a rarity at the restaurant as they have not had a meeting in the last 7 months.

He requests the staff to write down questions which the owners will answer.

David defensively avoids the question directed at him and Gordon compares him to a politician.

The last question was to address the lack of a general manager and one of the staff suggests that one of the owners should be the general manager.

While the owners were contemplating on who would be the general manager, Gordon decides to add a new special for the night’s dinner service.

For dinner service, Brian is sent home while David and Greg alternate the managing and expediting job for the night for Gordon to see.

David is rude to the staff in the back and patronizes customers out the front.

Greg did well in the dining and struggles in the kitchen but ultimately pulls it off.

After the nights service, Gordon calls the staff together to vote the person they would want to be the manager of the restaurant and the majority of them choose Greg.

Overnight the restaurant is given a makeover and the staff and Greg love the new decor but David isn’t happy about the changes.

Gordon introduces a new lobster claw game where whoever picks it up gets to eat it.

Gordon hires a man in a lobster suit to go into Times Square and hand out flyers with the staff, which David comments won’t help at all.

Hours before the relaunch, Gordon gets everyone up to speed on the new menu and gets them to taste it.

David dislikes most of the dishes, making a number of negative comments while everyone else loved the new food.

The owners sign a document stating Greg as the general manager and Gordon asks Brian and David to come for dinner.

On relaunch, Brian and David arrive and they sit at the table, moaning about all of the new changes.

Things aren't better in the kitchen as Greg has lost control in the kitchen and it has fallen apart.

There are delays with the food but when it reaches customers they are pleased with the food despite the wait.

After the service, Gordon tells Brian that he is lazy, Greg has a good heart and David doesn't care and that's he's only in it for his ego.

David calls him "Gordy" and is really snarky.

He tells them he isn't sure it can succeed with David a part of it and he challenges him to come back and see for himself.



What Happened Next at Black Pearl?


Black Pearl closed just 4 days after the episode aired.

Yelp reviews after filming are mostly negative with complaints over the quality of the menu dishes.

David had an extremely long rant about Gordon in a letter allegedly from all three owners, blaming him for the 50% drop in sales.

Gordon revisits in the next series but Black Pearl is closed and Hog Pit is open in it's place. Gordon tries the food and loves it but Yelp reviews are average.

Below is the full text of David's rant:

"Hello Everyone... Well, after three years, we have fried our last clam and shucked our last oyster.

On October First, we sold our lease and fixtures to someone who may be better equipped to handle the exceedingly high cost of doing business in New York City.

As you may know, in February, we filmed an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, at our restaurant, hoping for the best.

We were naive, believing that the show was at least somewhat honest; we truly felt we could learn something from that jerk, and we anticipated a solid boost in sales from the publicity.

The sad fact is, from the beginning, it was clear that the show was a joke.

From the very first day they were initiated, the changes Gordy Ramsay made were ridiculed by the press, hated by our regular customers and were the direct cause of a 50% drop in revenues. And, we were never able to recover financially.

Our hope was that we would benefit from the publicity of participating in that horrid "reality tv" series, but the promised air-date of May 2008 turned out to be a lie, and we were not able to sustain ourselves until the end of September, when it was finally broadcast, especially with the damage inflicted upon us by the producers and star of KN.

While the partners certainly weren't on the best of terms, I do admit that we exaggerated the issues we displayed on the show in order to convince the producers to feature our restaurant, but during the week of filming in February, it became clear that the show was a complete sham.

KN is simply a series of set-ups staged to illustrate situations that fit their script, and, as you would expect, their expert editors tell only half the story--the part that makes their star shine brightest.

All of my brilliant and pointed comebacks were left on the cutting-room floor! Darn the luck! In fact, Gordo's menu changes were horrible, and mirrored the buffet offerings of a cruise ship in the 1950s--lobster bearnaise?

Shrimp Louis with green goddess dressing? His ideas were laughable, and proved to be utter failures; his "innovations" had nothing to do with our concept of a New England Lobster Shack--something he clearly knows nothing about.

For God's sake, he thinks the Canadian and Maine lobster are two different species! Maybe he thinks Canadian lobsters have an accent--"butter, eh?"

Finally, his big design change, the lobster arcade game, was nothing short of asinine.

After the filmed "grand re-opening dinner" (attended by actors, we learned, who responded to the producers' Craigslist ad and were instructed to order the new Gordy Ramsay special!), very few ever ordered the lobster bearnaise again.

And who can blame them? Greasy potatoes, buckets of oil, egg and butter . . . nice one, Gordo; real good idea.

But what really sealed our fate was his b*stardization of our award-winning lobster roll.

To "improve" upon our recipe, he cut the amount of lobster in half, added lemon, lettuce, celery, salt and pepper and way too much mayo.

Of course, it didn't work. It served us right for allowing a potty-mouthed teabag to mess with our New England cuisine.

We should have taken a page out of history, revolted and sent him packing and bleeding back to King George.

Anyway, enough sour grapes. While I hope Gordo meets an untimely death so that I can dance on his grave, it is time to move on.

The point is, we would like to thank you all for your support during our brief time operating what we thought was the best seafood shack in New York.

My partners and I really did care about everything we offered at Black Pearl. From the inception, we did our best to keep the concept pure. We made every effort to be fair to our customers, our staff and ourselves.

We remember fondly those crazy nights with Sherry Vine, Sean Lynch's Rat Pack Revue, the Rasta Christmas parties, and the brilliant musings of pianist Tommy Mandel.

We were lucky to have you all aboard. And, of course, we thank our loyal staff for all their hard work, especially Heru, Charles, Lana, Lisa and Steve.

Perhaps we'll do it again (sound of my partner's bullets whizzing by my head), I don't know. If we do, we'll be sure to spread the word.

For now, we'll take advantage of the new-found holes in our schedules to relax with our families and friends.Love and best fishes,
David, Greg and Brian"


David returned to his previous career in the music industry and released an album in 2010.

Black Pearl aired on September 25 2008, the episode was filmed in February 2008 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 2 episode 4.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Trobiano's

Next episode - J Willy's

This post was last updated in April 2021.

48 comments:

  1. Parents went there when they went to New York they said it was pretty good.

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  2. im sure david was the one who bailed out and the rest followed...

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  3. Here's classic; that crap-stain David wrote in specifically to lie and say that he didn't write this letter. I honestly didn't think people like him existed in the world. Wow.

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  4. I just watched the show and read the rants from the homepage first.
    In one of them he says that the customers loved the award winning 'maine' lobster roll and after the menu-changes the sales dropped.
    surprise....
    As Ramsey let the staff taste the new menu on the show... the lobster-roll was on it... but also grilled on the inside so the bread does not get soggy.

    So we have here a person who is hurt that he was caught lying (multiple times) and started a anti-ramsey campain because of it. shame

    Dont get me wrong. After a lot of ramsey rants I have seen I feel that it would not be easy to work with him. And we all know that it is a tv-show which shows a lot of emotions and fighting and is not totally real. And even if there are actors eating and complaining about food... how do you react? You take it professionally and do you best to take the publicity the show gives to your buisiness-gain. Because in the end... you wanted them to come!

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  5. Your opinions don't matter.

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    1. That may be your opinion, but most believe that everyone has a right to express their own subjective thoughts. However, if the opinions of others do not matter, then I will state facts instead of an opinion. Maine & Canadian lobster are the same species but are also different due to the colder waters that the Canadian lobsters inhabit. The colder water temperature means that the Canadian lobsters have a thicker shell &, therefore, can survive out of the water for a longer period of time. However, that is not the only difference. The Canadians & American have different laws pertaining to the catching, storage, & selling of lobsters. The US has a size limit in order to conserve the species, while the Canadians do not. Also, the caught Maine lobsters are not stored with the lobster bait like the Canadians do. Therefore, the Canadian Lobsters take on the taste of the rotting flesh of the bait. So, while the Maine & Canadian Lobsters are the same species, the Maine Lobsters have a thinner shell & a light, sweet taste. They are also more expensive due to the size limit the US government imposes in order to keep a healthy population of the species in the wild. This means that The Black Pearl was selling an inferior product to their costumers and was lying to their costumers, yet still charging their costumers for the better tasting Maine Lobster. The last thing I'd like to point out to David is that there is a reason that Maine lobster, & not Canadian lobster, is world famous!

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    2. Yeah, he pulled a classic of obstinate and ignorant fools the world over when arguing.

      He fixated on a strawman argument (it's the same species) which no one argued otherwise. While deliberately ignoring the important part 1) he's lying and 2) quality is different.

      Great, same species. Doesn't mean same quality. Look at farmed salmon vs wild caught. If you don't understand that the same species in different places, conditions and catch have different quality you shouldn't be running a restaurant.

      That he has to throw in his pitiful little jabs in the post is kinda pathetic. Plenty of people have railed and blamed GR for their restaurant failing after the show (cause they were doing so well before...) but his is definitely the most puerile and pathetic.

      I gotta wonder at what point someone questions they are in hundreds of thousands in debt from failing at one restaurant, while he has (currently) 35 and a hotel that are successful. David needed no help running a restaurant into the ground, but if you want to know how to make one succeed listening to the guy with 35 is probably a good start.

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    3. Exactly. Maine lobster is sweeter and more tender than canadian lobster. That's not opinion either, that's accepted fact.

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  6. So sad that he would go as low to wish death upon Gordon Ramsey.

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  7. I'm not surprised the restaurant failed. Of the three owners, it seemed that it was David who was really in charge. He apparently told his other two partners what to do and how to do it. It always seemed that it was "his way or the highway". During the relaunch, who was it that slammed everything and openly hoped that Greg would fail? Not Brian. As was previously mentioned above, Brian, seemed more of a follower, who did whatever he was told. Greg was more of a leader; at least he tried to make it work; although I'm sure David did what he could to hold him back. And after reading David's rant, well... he hasn't changed a bit! That said, I hope David never works with customers or clients ever again. If he treats his staff and business partners the way he did on the show, who knows how he may treat his family and friends!

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  8. I've seen a lot of episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and never, ever have I encountered anyone as repulsive as David. I need to shower after that episode.

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    1. Amy, Samy, Alan, and Joe are all just as repulsive as David. Or maybe David is less repulsive than Alan, because David's never stolen money from his son's trust fund. But, that's only because his ego's so big, no woman would be able to share a bed with him.

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  9. Wait a minute...so they say they were doing fine before the show, and exaggerated their problems just for the publicity that participating would get them. So if Gordon's changes in food were the cause of their subsequent woes, why not immediately go back to the old way, as we know other restaurants featured on KN have? What other 'changes' were implemented (besides the decor) that couldn't just have been reversed after the camera crews left? They kept up a supposedly failing formula for 8 months, then conveniently were forced to close FOUR DAYS after the episode aired? Something smells fishy...

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    1. David went back to the original menu the day after Ramsey left. He didn't even give it a go. Pure arrogance.

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  10. I have been watching Gordon Ramsey not only on tv for ages now but following him in the media equally as long. At first his loud screaming voice turned me off but after realizing his purpose and intent I understood exactly what he was doing and why. As a result, my wife and I now have a finer palette and appreciation for both presentation and flavor. I have a great respect for this guy and everything he does! He is not a royal who has a silver spoon but rather has worked his tail off to turn just about everything he touches into gold!

    As far as the Black Pearl goes I agree with the consensus that Greg should have taken over the entire business and I am sure he would have had addition advice given on how to better succeed. Greg had heart and a wonderful staff - he just was never given enough of an opportunity to succeed. It is hard to succeed when you have people like David sabotaging your every step and rubbing people (staff and customers ALWAYS the wrong way).

    This is a recipe for disaster and it proved so! What a shame. It is funny how the above statement blamed KN for their demise. Sounds like David needs to see a therapist to deflate his ego and discover reality! Greatest respect and condolences to Greg and the former staff.

    I too am not affiliated in anyway with the show or even know GR but I do know enough about restaurants to know one that is doomed from the start because of arrogance and stupidity.

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    1. It's not just that business he's failing at. He put his own name out there publicly. If he had some humility, and was an actual decent human being. Things would actually work for him. For some reason he hasn't got it through his thick head that being an a hole does nothing but bring negative attention. It's going to follow him now every where he goes, no matter what he tries to get into. And even if someone hasn't seen the episode, the way he 'agrees' with you, is so transparents, it's easy to tell what kind of guy he is. He's going to have a tough life because he dug his own grave. I'm sure he blames it on the show, and not how gross his personality is.

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  11. I don't get it - they closed 4 days after America saw the episode. We didn't know the place existed until 4 days before they closed (it takes more than 4 days to decide it's over). How could this possibly be related to Chef Ramsey's show?

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    1. It was probably filmed earlier than that. Most shows are filmed a long time before they air.

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    2. Because David and Brian decided to go back to the original menu the day after the show aired, they even show those two talking about doing it in the airing. They then failed and had to find someone other than themselves because they can't take responsibility for their actions

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  12. And David's music is even worse than his behavior on "Kitchen Nightmares"!

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  13. David blames the show not himself. David should just go live in cave personally I don't think even the animals would want his food

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  14. David your an idiot! Next time I suggest you do your homework on the restaurant business. I was hoping Gordon Ramsey would have punched you in the face! Maybe that would have Increased your sales lol

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  15. Well, it looks like David Leonard went back into real estate sales:

    http://davidleonard.houlihanlawrence.com/agents_offices/

    It says on his page though that he has only sold (1) property at his employer. Was it the Black Pearl? LOL!

    He sure didn't come across on Kitchen Nightmares as anyone even remotely likeable. I've seen all of the episodes, and this guy has to be on (or near) the top of the detestable list!

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    1. Well, he sure couldn't support himself as a musician! Have you checked out his music website? Truly, the worst I've ever seen in my 40 years as a pro musician. The worst in design, arrogance and bad recorded music.

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  16. How were they going to know if they made higher sales if they closed only 4 days after filming completed? They did not give it half a chance. David should have been bought out and kicked to the curb.

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    1. No, no, no. They closed 4 days after the episode aired, not 4 days after filming. There's a process there... say a filming is in March, the episode may not air until April, May, or even July... it doesn't Air immediately after it's filmed....

      Either way though, you can be pretty much sure David is the one that drove the business into the ground. Though, Steve wasn't exactly worth his weight in gold either... he at least was respectful... he just had no passion and didn't really care. David was a know it all "my way or the highway " buffoon that knew absolutely nothing though... All he did was disrespect Gordon, the co-owners, the employees, and even the customers/patrons... it's no wonder the restraint closed if he was still around.

      Heck, he reprimanded a customer for saying they didn't get what they ordered....

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  17. Somehow it really appeared to me as if David wasn't incompetent but that there was something else going on with him. Not wanting to make false accusations, but I'm just wondering cause it kinda seemed like he wanted to bring down the Black Pearl seeing everything he did lead to it being ruined further and further. Or perhaps that's just my own view seeing things there aren't cause it certainly is a bit hard to believe that anyone can be so incompetent that he ruins a restaurant to such an extend and still thinks he's doing things right.

    I just feel bad for the staff. You could tell they were good people who were passionate about their work but went down due to David.

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  18. And he is definitely NOT the Grammy winning producer of the same name, that schmuck guy DL... But you can find him in real estate sales, I'm sure Canadian property sells exactly the same ways/means as American property, no diff, righto Dave?

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  19. People should not be so quick to judge. There are many reasons for David to have been going through a bad day (maybe he's dying) but as much of a disrespectful asshole he was, I wish he was. I'm sick of ungrateful people who take advantage of their positions and act like nothing is wrong. 'David, I hope life is as wonderful to you as you are to others'.
    You should thank Gordon for giving you those 15 minutes. It's too bad you wasted on yourself.
    Peace,

    Frantz Xantus

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  20. A frustrated musician? No wonder he hates himself and everyone else that much.

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  21. Greg, Steve and Phil were the highlight of the episode.

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  22. David is disgusting!!!! I cannot believe that his partners even let him get away with this horrible attitude and lies! Ramsey gave this restaurant an honest opportunity to fix the wronged make things better. What an arrogant scumbag David is. I seriously hope he fails in any other business he attempts to opens. David is pure evil and scum of the earth, he deserves nothing! David should be ashamed of himself and his behavior. David, and David alone caused the closing of the restaurant and what could have been a very profitable establishment. SHAME ON YOU DAVID!!!!

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  23. those know-it-alls who don't know anything.. a quick google search tells me, that the canadian lobster lives in colder waters (who knew), and therefore has a harder shell and the meat is less sweet and less tender. So yes, there *are* differences. And a chef with 21 restaurants and who knows how much michelin stars knows this stuff..

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    1. To me, this is the equivalent of ordering a t-bone steak at a restaurant and being served a pile of ground beef instead. "They're the same species, after all"

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  24. He totally missed the point about the lobsters. Gordon never said they were different species. He tried to make the point that the guy was taking a budget product and marketing it as premium. Even if they taste exactly the same thas not right. It's scummy and dishonest and what's more that greedy git David knew exactly what he was doing!

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    1. And they don't taste the same. Canadian lobster generally has a harder shell and less tender meat because of colder waters.

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  25. Oh also, is everyone going to ignore the fact he threw his 2 ex-business partners under the bus? He probably wrote the entire thing without them knowin cause he 'had to get the last say in'.. but signed it by all 3 of them, but it's obviously David by the content of his letter. Stuff the other owners wouldn't even care enough to write about.. then turns around and personally emails everyone who publishes that note, to say it wasn't him. So transparent! It's honestly making me laugh. I know he aggravates people, but the way he works is so stupid it's funny.

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  26. The place's yelp reviews were horrid before and after for the most part.

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    1. thats because they switched the menu back to the original menu after gordan ramsey left

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  27. He blames Ramsay for the drop in revenue but I'm pretty sure David did a bunch of dumb stuff after Ramsay left just out of spite. He was clearly not concerned about the business as much as he was concerned about his own damn ego.

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  28. Wow. David was on another level, and not a good one at that. He complained about everything... The paint color on the pillars, the new food, advertising in Time Square. I mean, really. And, wishing someone dead so you can dance on their grave?! In my opinion, he has a narcissist personality. I didn't see a ring on his finger either - - not surprised one bit!

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  29. David was so desperate to prove Ramsay wrong he sabotaged his own business. Wow what an ego. You can't ever tell/help people like that, the only person that guy will ever listen to is himself.

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  30. If you guys were the best then why ask for help from Gordon to begin with����������

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  31. Hey just watched it...I thought David was great! Very entertaining. Best episode ever!!!! I would pay to watch the unedited version to hear Davids other "comebacks". 10/10 for eyeryone involved. A modern faulty towers classic.

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  32. I always love when a restaurant owner who is half a million dollars in the red has the audacity to tell one if the most successful restaurant owners in the world "you don't know what you're talking about."

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  33. The Canadian lobster and the Maine lobster are entirely different things. David proved himself to be what he is when he started calling Gordon Ramsey - a chef with Michelin stars and world renown - Gordy. This was filmed in May and aired in September, they changed the menu back after the film crew left, then blamed Ramsey for the failure of a business that was already a quarter of a million dollars in debt. Why invite someone in to help you then disregard all he offers?

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