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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 a seafood restaurant specialising in lobster, where he finds three owners, Brian, David and Greg, who are never in the restaurant at the same time.

The restaurant started out as a lobster shack downtown owned by Brian and David, they put an ad in a newspaper for a third investor and moved uptown after adding Greg as a partner.

The relationships were good until they started to lose money and the relationships declined and they stopped talking to one another and only communicate via email or text.

Staff dislike David, think Brian is a silent partner and think that Greg is the hardest working owner but gets frustrated too easily.

Gordon arrives and is greeted by David, who insists 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.

Gordon is less than impressed with the food and the mismatched decor. The chowder is watery, the mac and cheese is too rich and he's not impressed with the unseasoned lobster rolls either.

Gordon meets the three owners and discovers that the restaurant was originally David and Brian's but Greg was bought in when they ran out of money and they are $250,000 in debt.

Gordon returns to witness a dinner service and David is there for the evening and expediting in the kitchen.

He doesn't do a very good job and food is sent back. David is upset when a table sends back a dish for grit in the mussels and argues with the customer.

After service, Gordon tells David they are advertising Maine Lobster but serving Canadian lobster, which he tries to argue is acceptable.

The next morning, Gordon calls a staff meeting and asks the staff to ask the owners questions but David is defensive.

Gordon asks the staff to vote for one of the owners to be general manager and they choose Greg.

For dinner service, Brian is sent home and Gordon alternates David and Greg as manager to decide on who will manage the place.

David is rude to the staff in the back and rude to customers out the front and Greg struggles in the kitchen but ultimately pulls it off.

Overnight the restaurant is given a makeover but David hates it. There is a new lobster claw game and Gordon has hired a man in a lobster suit to go into Times Square and hand out flyers with the staff.

On relaunch night, Greg is in charge and Gordon asks Brian and David to come for dinner, 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.

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 bastardization 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 September 2019.

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

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

  3. I fairly retch with joy. That David guy should never, never, never, never ... (did I say never?) ... ever be in any business involving customers of any sort. He is an egotistical imbecile of the first order.

    I'm sure that all his "snappy" comebacks were, indeed, left on the cutting room floor. What TV show has time to air 38 hours of solid, snappy comebacks?

    People like Dave are the reason why New Yorkers have a reputation for nastiness. They are the reason why the human race continues to have wars, famine, and disease. They are also the reason why little children cry, elderly dogs piss themselves, and why God created Hell.

    To be clear, I am not affiliated in any way with KN or Ramsay. That is unfortunate. Thankfully, however, I am also not affiliated with Dave and, for that, I am eternally grateful.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.
    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!

  6. Your opinions don't matter.

    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!

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

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

    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.

  10. Wait a 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...

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

  11. 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.

    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.

  12. 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?

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

    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

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

  14. 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

  15. 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

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

    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!

  17. 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.

    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....

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

    Frantz Xantus

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

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

  23. 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!!!!

  24. 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..

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

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

  32. 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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