Kitchen Nightmares - Kingston Cafe - CLOSED

Kingston Cafe Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visit's Kingston Cafe, Pasadena, California.

Kingston Cafe is owned by radiologist and Olympic athlete Dr Una Morris, who opened the restaurant in 1992.

Una opened the restaurant because she enjoyed cooking and that there were no other Jamaican restaurants in the area.

Una’s son, Keone manages the restaurant but she doesn’t listen to his suggestions on how to run the restaurant.

He thinks Una is a problem as she micromanages every aspect of the restaurant and all the servers are dressed formally, in shirts and ties.

Server Matt says that the entire staff get nervous whenever Una is around and they have had lots of cooks starting and leaving the restaurant.

Head Chef Daniel describes how hard it is doing his job as Una always slows things down due to her micromanagement.

Una believes not everyone can cook Jamaican food.

They barely get up to 5 tables in the restaurant each day and Una’s retirement money has almost been spent supporting the restaurant.

Gordon meets Keone before arriving at Kingston’s cafĂ© and Keone tells him Una’s management style is the biggest problem at the restaurant.

Gordon nearly drives by as the place doesn’t look like a restaurant from outside and he thinks it looks more like a home.

Gordon is led through a strange looking entrance to the diner where he is greeted by Una.

Una reveals that she does everything at the restaurant, even designing the menu.

Gordon sits down to order and he notices the menu he is given looks bizarre.

He orders the Jamaican patties, jerk chicken and Oxtail stew.

Gordon tastes the food and thinks that the patties are gross, soggy and he doesn't like the sauce.

The jerk chicken was dry and overcooked and the oxtail is full of fat.

Keone has all the same issues as Gordon has raised and has complained to Una about the same things before.

Gordon meets with Una, Keone and the chefs and gives them his feedback about the cold dining room, the soulless food and that he was embarrassed by it all.

Keone tried to tell Gordon that he thinks everything should be cooked fresh but Una cuts him off.

Gordon was also cut off by Una as he was talking about the jerk chicken being dry.

She tells Gordon it is meant to be dry as that is how jerk chicken is made in Jamaica.

Gordon tells her it was so dry that it was inedible.

Gordon returns in the evening to observe a dinner service.

As the orders come in, complimentary salads are sent out in martini glasses.

The customers do not like the odd presentation and Gordon tells them to serve the salad in a bowl.

Gordon looks through the fridges and discovers that everything is in plastic bags and defrosted from frozen.

Gordon tells Una she is running a hospital kitchen before walking out as Una doesn’t let him speak.

Gordon visits Una at her medical practice, which is right next door to the restaurant.

He tells her she is in denial and needs to make big changes for the restaurant to succeed.

She says she has put in her last $300,000 and can only stay open another month.

Una tells Gordon that Keone isn’t dependable and they always argue, which hurts her a lot.

Gordon advises her not to let the negativity in the restaurant to affect her self-esteem.

He tells her that he is there to help and they have to stop clashing.

Una now trusts Gordon, she bursts into tears and they exchanged a hug.

Next, Gordon sits down with Keone who admits he is not as committed as he was when they first opened.

He admits the nature of his relationship with his mother has always been based on competition.

Gordon then tells him that he has to focus on family as everything rides on the success of the restaurant.

Keone agrees and agrees to help his mother out.

For the evening service, Gordon introduces a special BBQ menu with meat and fish cooked by Keone.

However in the kitchen they are still using the bags and day old rice and beans.

The customers are left waiting for the regular menu in the dining room while the customers at the patio were enjoying the BBQ.

The food in the dining room is finally being served but the dishes are being returned as the customers don’t like the food.

Gordon meets the staff after the dinner service and brings in a wheelbarrow of the plastic bags in and dumps them on the floor.

Una feels like it was a waste of money to do this but she decides to trust Gordon and accept the changes.

Overnight, the restaurant is transformed and a new sign is introduced out the front.

The old menu is replaced with fresh Jamaican dishes and the staff are to wear a more causal uniform with t-shirts.

The staff taste the new dishes and they think they are delicious.

Una hugs Gordon as she is delighted with the new food they will be serving.

On relaunch night, things starts to go well with appetizers going out quickly.

Soon, the tickets pile up, Chef Daniel gets behind and the quality drops.

Gordon takes Keone aside and tells him to step up, he steps up and everything starts to go more smoothly.

Una comes in and they both starts to argue but Gordon steps in swiftly and tells Una to let Keone find his voice.

The kitchen gets back on track and the customers are pleased with the food.

The relaunch was a success.

Gordon praises Keone on how he stepped up and turned things around.

Next, he has a private chat with Una where he tells her to either let Keone be more involved or let him go.



What Happened Next at Kingston Cafe?

Gordon revisits in a Kitchen Nightmares revisited episode and meets Una, he finds out that Keone is no longer involved as he is focusing on his education.

She has fired all the chefs and the serving staff and rehired all new staff.

Gordon says the food is fresh, delicious and  more spicy. Gordon meets new chef Christie and Una is very appreciative of Gordon's help.

Yelp reviews and Trip Advisor reviews were very mixed after the show.

Customers post both positive and negative reviews on the food quality and the level of service received.

Kingston Cafe closed in November 2012 BUT reopened in November 2013, with a new dance floor, some new menu items, the old, themed nights and an expanded bar.

They reduced the opening hours to evening service on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Kingston Cafe closed as a restaurant in August 2018, however the space is still used for catering and events where both food and drink are served.

They announced the closure with a note on the door that read,
Effective August 1, 2018
The cafe will provide catering and event services only. We are available for all your celebratory and event needs: wedding receptions, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, meetings and club events.
To all our loyal customers... We thank you for faithful patronage and support.

Keone currently works in branding and marketing.

Kingston Cafe aired on April 15 2011, the episode was filmed in January 2011 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 4 episode 8.


Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Tavolini

Next episode - La Frite


This post was last updated in February 2021.

14 comments:

  1. People like that owner though are annoying as hell. They think they're above everybody else because they have a doctorate and usually think they're experts at everything.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, until, they know... save your life.

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    2. I think the woman is a nice person, and that was confirmed when she broke down & cried.
      Just because someone acts tough does not mean they are automatically bad. She had to be tough to survive losing her mom as a child, to be an olympian, to drag herself through school to become a radiologist. She's to be admited not hated.

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    3. She is NOT A LIFESAVER!!!! She reads x-rays and confirms musculoskeletal injury. Hardly a lifesaving endeavour. If I went into cardiac arrest, I would rather have an EMT working on me than a radiologist. And I have a background in the medical field.

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    4. "She is NOT A LIFESAVER!!!! She reads x-rays and confirms musculoskeletal injury. Hardly a lifesaving endeavour. If I went into cardiac arrest, I would rather have an EMT working on me than a radiologist. And I have a background in the medical field."

      Oh yeah, if she finds a TUMOR in your x-ray, that's not saving your life at all. Because anyone can just read an x-ray, right? Little snot.

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    5. An EMT is someone who has passed a 120 hours course.
      She is a medical doctor who is ALSO specialized in x-rays, resonances, ultrasound...
      Try doing only the half that woman has already accomplished, then tell me.

      Delete
  2. Although I did feel sorry for her she was continually immensely arrogant. I felt more sorrow for her bullied son.

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  3. Kingston Cafe's owner, Dr. Una Morris, isn't a culinary genius, but give the lady credit where it's due.

    Professionally, she's a Board-Certified diagnostic radiologist with California residencies completed in both radiology and general surgery. She's a graduate of UC-San Francisco, one of the world's leading medical schools and medical research institutions.

    Bear in mind that radiologists must excel math and physics. They can't be equated with EMT's as someone stupidly stated earlier.

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  4. Perhaps,I am judging her too harshly, but she seemed very mean, arrogant, phony, and just completely rubbed me the wrong way. I hope I am wrong about her. I felt bad for her son.

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  5. She is tough, but some of that is just cultural, not her being intentionally mean

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  6. So...is it only open on certain days now? I am just confused since it's saying it's only open on weekends. Is it because of a doctor thing or is the owner not feeling well?

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  7. OMG! How can this woman became a doctor? All she can do is "let me finish" She's a stubborn and I hope it closed already! Poor the son though. If I were her son, I'd be moving far from her now

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  8. She's a control freak

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  9. Have you not met doctors? Doctors who have gone through 4 + years of medical school + 2 plus years of residency, who are trained to be on the cutting edge of Medicine are all stubborn in their own way. It's hard for them to break their habits. Not saying it's impossible, it's just hard for some Doctors to come around. Kingston looks like it has come around since she was able to take a good look at herself as GR always says.

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