Hot Potato Cafe - Kitchen Nightmares Update - Open or Closed?

Kitchen Nightmares Hot Potato Cafe

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Gordon Ramsay visits Hot Potato Cafe, in Fishtown, Philadelphia.

Hot Potato Cafe is owned by 3 sisters: Claire, Kathryn and their sister-in-law Erin.

They decided on a whim to open a cafe together and focused more on the decor of the restaurant and less on the food.

16 Feb 2023

They wanted something fun and casual but they soon found out how serious running a restaurant can be after being visited by a local food critic.

The critic from the newspaper gave them a harsh review in which the restaurant was dubbed as "Spuddy Hell" and customers stopped coming due to the bad press.

The owners have all invested all of their life savings in the cafe.

With no experience and no money to hire professionals they have hired their niece Danielle to cook in the kitchen.

Danielle has no formal culinary training or experience and it is not her passion to cook.

She is only there to help the family and feels completely out of her depth.

Gordon arrives and meets all three owners and sits down with them immediately.

They all keep quiet when asked what is wrong with the restaurant as they are clueless to the issues.

Gordon is shocked to find out their Head Chef Danielle is only 21 as he thinks she has had no time to train.

Upon seeing the menu Gordon asks the sisters to recommend a dish each and no one recommends a potato dish, despite it being a potato themed restaurant.

He sits down to lunch, meets server Brian and orders a hot potato soup, spud skins baked potatoes and a shepherd’s pie.

He is told the potatoes are fresh only when brought in but they are cut and frozen till it’s time to cook them.

First is the soup which was a mess, bland and lumpy and the server says it is made every other day.

The spud skins come next and they taste dreadful, they were baked 3 weeks ago and the fillings have already been used in other dishes!

The shepherds pie is too greasy and he sends the food to owners to taste who admit it tastes horrible.

Gordon comes to the kitchen to meet Danielle and is surprised to learn Danielle isn’t a trained chef, is following recipes she has been given and isn't doing what she wanted to do.

The next day he speaks with the owners again and finds out they are in around $250,000 of debt due to the restuarant.

They are just getting by day-by-day and their relationship between each other is also strained.

He wants them to show him they have not lost hope.

Gordon arrives to observe a packed dinner service. They aren’t used to being so busy and the service is a disaster.

It’s chaos in the kitchen, no leadership, confusion on orders and bad food is sent out.

Gordon meets with staff after the service and is surprised Danielle was calm and focused but everyone else had no passion and it was an embarrassing evening.

With the lack of passion Gordon decides to leave completely saying he can’t help them.

They go after him, begging him to come back and help them turn the restaurant around.

They admit they have lost hope, are out of money, ideas and options but they are committed to reviving the restaurant.

Gordon is moved by their honesty and he returns to help.

The next day he takes the owners through a potato challenge, they all have to create fillings for fresh hot potatoes and the best goes on the menu.

Danielle’s dish is chosen to go on the menu.

Believing in her talent, Gordon shows Danielle a recipe for shepherd’s pie, which is the second special of the night.

The specials are doing very well but the regular menu still has problems and with giant portion sizes the customers request to take the leftovers home.

Gordon insists the Hot Potato needs some real changes.

After dinner service, Gordon brings in close to 50 boxes that depict the food people took home with the, taking away their profits.

Their food costs are so out of control as they are giving too much food away.

Gordon takes the staff outside to say goodbye to the old restaurant by symbolically breaking their big plates.

On relaunch day, they have a new sign outside that is more visible.

The interior has been updated to be more modern and elegant with a lounge area and $5000 worth of pots, pans and plates.

Richard Marsh, a restauranteur is brought in to the restaurant to mentor Danielle for a month.

She is so happy that she breaks down in tears.

Gordon shows the staff the new menu items which they love and the Idaho Potato Commission has given them a 3 months supply of fresh potatoes for free.

One last surprise before relaunch service starts is the critic who called them ‘Spuddy hell’ is coming back to review them.

The staff are ready and confident for the relaunch and everything starts well.

On relaunch night, customers are impressed with the new menu and the food.

One hour into the service the critic arrives and he enjoys all the food he is served branding them "potato-riffic" and the staff are thrilled.

The relaunch continues and they finish the night very strong, serving over 100 guests with no dish returned to the kitchen.

Out of everyone Danielle has been changed the most from the role that had been forced on her to beginning to think she has a future career as a chef.

What Happened Next at Hot Potato Cafe?

After the show was filmed Gordon helped market the restaurant, talking about them on TV and on the streets.

They got a better review from the critic calling them as having a ‘New Starch’.

After Kitchen Nightmares, Danielle left the restaurant and the quality started to slip back to the old ways.

Yelp reviews after filming are mixed, the service is praised but the food quality appears to have been hit and miss.

Claire said in an article that the experience had been difficult but that it was fun and rewarding and their attitudes had changed.

Hot Potato Cafe closed in August 2010 as their lease was due to expire, the phone was disconnected and a closed sign was put up on the door.

The restaurant had been previously put up for sale on Craiglist in June 2010.

Danielle trained to be a nurse and is currently working part time as both a nurse and a bartender.

Lloyd Whiskey Bar opened in October 2012, the menu looks great and Yelp reviews are good.

Hot Potato Cafe aired on January 29 2010, the episode was filmed in May 2009 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 3 episode 1.

Click for more Kitchen Nightmares

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Next episode - Flamangos

This post was last updated in March 2023.


  1. Id like to know what happened to Danielle as well. The search continues.

  2. What a shame it closed. Chef Ramsay certainly gave them all the tools for this cafe's success. With all his help I wonder what went wrong. Even after Danielle's departure, they certainly could have hired a cook, not necessarily a chef. The owners seemed so happy, I wish them well.

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

  3. One of the most novice run businesses in this series.

  4. According to Danielle's FB, she is a nursing student now.

    1. Good for her, she seemed like a really sweet level headed girl, sometimes people on this show are so obnoxious and rude you can't wish them any well, yet she had a sincerity and drive that wasn't being utilised. I hope she succeeds in her new career. :-)

    2. That's good. She certainly seemed like she could handle stressful situations and also like someone who would grow and develop into a very responsible adult.

  5. You Go Danielle! I was respiratory for 30 yrs. Medical profession NEEDS people who care, I believe you will be one hell of a caring and devoted nurse.
    GOOD LUCK Sweet heart

  6. Danielle was amazing. so composed, so refreshing. and yeah, one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen at some random café. no makeup, and she can look....she is just very pretty, very nice smile. I had to see what happened to her after just seeing the show for the first time some 4 years after the fact. not surprised she moved on to nursing, and she will do well in whatever she does

  7. With Danielle being so composed amid that stress and chaos means she will nail anything she puts her mind to.

  8. Danielle is working as a nurse now and is also a bartender, managing two jobs. Go girl! Also she is very pretty.

    1. I hope Danielle does well in life lovely lady. Good luck

  9. I think the fate of the restaurant was summed up when Claire said the 3 months of free potatoes would save them so much money. I feel like the assistance was used more as a temporary crutch than a springboard to bigger things.

  10. I think this is one of the more positive endings of the show. They probably had to hire someone who doesn't care about the food, and they were in dire money straights, but they managed to close with a positive association attached to them and their names.


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