Blackberry's - Kitchen Nightmares Update - Open or Closed?

Blackberry's Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Gordon Ramsay visits Blackberry’s in Plainfield New Jersey.

Blackberry’s Catering and Family Restaurant is soul food restaurant owned by Shelly Winters, who used to run a successful catering business.

Her mother Mary invested her retirement funds into setting up the restaurant.

Shelly believes that the decor is great, the food is great and the location is great.

The customers and staff think otherwise, they feel that she is denial and is a control freak.

There is a breakdown of communication in the kitchen as staff have no system in place and she is $200,000 in debt.

Gordon arrives and immediately thinks there is a disco happening a at the restaurant with the records hanging from the ceiling.

He meets James who is the general manager and Mary who is the baker and soon finds out Shelly and James are engaged after she asks him if she can give Gordon a kiss.

Gordon sits down at a table and orders collard greens, pork chops with mac and cheese, chitlins and red velvet cake.

Gordon notices a record stuck on the wall beside him is hiding a big hole in the wall and the staff claim to have no knowledge of the cover up.

First is the porkchop and mac and cheese. He finds the meat dry and the mac and cheese is over cooked and mushy.

He can tell it has been heated in the microwave.

Next is the Collard greens that are bland, soggy and limp.

The chitlins smell and he asks for a prayer before tasting them. They are awful, and he goes to the bathroom to throw up.

The only part of the meal he loves is the red velvet cake that was made by Mary.

Gordon meets the kitchen staff to let them know everything that was wrong with the lunch service.

Gordon comes back for the dinner service and sees a mouse in the entrance of the restaurant by the front door.

The staff are disbelieving when they hear this as they have had an exterminator come in the week prior.

James claims Gordon brought the mouse in with him.

Gordon sets out to prove otherwise and calls the staff together.

Shelly immediately reiterates James claims that Gordon planted the mouse, which angers Gordon and he wants to leave.

Shelly agrees and wants it all shut down but Mary steps in and asks Shelly to back off and pleads with Gordon to stay.

Her wish for him to stay combined with an apology from James convinces Gordon to stay.

Gordon watches dinner service and notes there’s a pizza oven and food being cooked in woks rather than pans.

Shelly is disruptive and not communicating properly, confusing her staff and causing bickering between them.

Customers have been waiting for an hour and Gordon is astounded at the chaos and poor service.

The next day, he calls a staff meeting and hears the staff out on what they think is wrong with the restaurant.

They all complain of how Shelly is overbearing and controlling, leaving little room for staff to do what they are trained to do.

Shelly gets offensive and tries to keep Dwayne from talking and soon asks him to leave.

Gordon stops it before it escalates and tries to encourage open and honest dialogue.

Mary tells her daughter that she needs to be open to change for things to get better and she agrees.

Gordon shows them the first change he has made, he has purchased them a fryer and a six-ring burner stove all from Southbend.

Shelly misses the wok and Mary is emotional at this change.

Mateen, the sous chef is put in charge of the kitchen for the night to create a system and a team.

Gordon reveals the newly renovated restaurant and it looks less like a cafeteria and more like a restaurant now.

The records are not completely gone, they have been made into beautiful, framed art displays that are hung on the walls.

The menu has been revamped with new dishes including updated soul food classics including barbecued pulled pork sliders and fried chicken and waffles.

On relaunch night, the new system is tested and it starts well with customers loving the food.

Mateen takes charge of the kitchen and Shelly receives a personal call and ignores her duties, almost putting the kitchen behind.

Shelly falls back to her old ways and tries to interfere with other cooking stations but when called out on it she walks out.

The rest of the team rally together and continue with the orders without Shelly.

At the end of the night, Shelly stays in her office and leaves when Gordon comes to call her to the meeting.

Mary once again tries to get her to join in but she has shut down and refuses to come out of her office.

Gordon goes ahead to congratulate the staff and tries to talk to Shelly again but she declines once again.

Mary gets angry and tells her she is ashamed of her.

What Happened Next at Blackberry's?

In the following weeks Shelly sees the success from Gordon's visit and starts to embrace the changes at Blackberry’s.

Nick at Jersey Bites posted about the experience of attending the relaunch here.

Yelp reviews after filming were mixed. Reviewers complain of fighting in the kitchen, hit and miss service and food.

Blackberry's closed in March 2013, Shelly posted the below,
“I want to say we just no longer saw room for growth. We were so stagnant. We were maintaining, barely, but not able to generate the clientele we wanted,” Withers explained. “I think we gave it 10 good years. We had a wonderful time and are looking on to bigger and better things.”

Blackberry's was aired on September 23 2011, the episode was filmed in July 2011 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 5 episode 1.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Oceana

Next episode - Leone's

This post was last updated in March 2023.


  1. I agree that the owner's attitude sucked. Her mom was actually very nice, if that was the only redeeming factor. She seemed disrepectful to GR, so I think a lot of watchers probably wanted her to fail.

  2. Feel sorry for the mother, she was a nice lady. She didn't deserve to lose all of her retirement money.

    1. Shelly's Mom was FABULOUS. As far as Shelly I pray for her. She would've went far if she would've work with the team.

  3. After watching Kitchen Nightmares and viewing how the manager and Shelly accused chef Ramsay of planting a mouse, I was so irritated by this woman's attitude. At the end of the show, after all the help from Gordon Ramsay she has an attitude and is not willing to give him the time of day. My dislike for this woman is so big that made me come in here and write how happy I am to hear that her business is closed. You didn't deserved to be successful. Sorry about her mother, she seem like a nice lady.

  4. I was grateful to have visited this restaurant before it closed while on a business trip to Newark. As in most things, the people were much nicer in real life than on TV. Also, the food was WONDERFUL. Shame it has closed!

  5. The owner Shelly obviously didn't have a clue and deserved her business to close. That being said, I feel sorry for Shelly's Mom, as she actually seemed to care

  6. I feel very sorry for Mama Mary, Sous Chef Mateen, and the rest of the kitchen staff. They look like they worked very hard to try to make the restaurant successful. Unfortunately, it seems the owner Shelley seemed like she just didn't care.

  7. No surprise this restaurant closed. The owner wasn't going to listen to anything or anyone other than what she wanted to hear. You cannot learn when you believe you hold all knowledge. I feel said for mother Mary, who spent her life savings trying to help an ungrateful daughter.

  8. What a rude owner she did not deserve the help she got

  9. Shelly clearly has a problem making proper adult decisions but since her maturation level is about that of a teenager it isn't that surprising. It's always a shame when any business closes because of a lack of revenue even if the owner is derelict. Her mother should not have invested her retirement savings in a business like her daughters. I wonder what Shelly will do to support her now that she has lost all of her mothers retirement. Maybe her 30 year old husband can find a real job instead of playing manager.

  10. Shelly is rude and disrespectful. I am not surprise the resturant closed. feel sorry for mother mary

    1. I totally agree mother Mary has a lot on her plate as it is. I worked for them not even a week then walked out on them. I couldn’t take the attitude of the cooks and Shelly. So I walked

  11. Shelly gave way to what was beforehand. This is mine and mine. Reminds me of another previous restaurant... also, on this show. When you have nothing going for you and, what was it... 16 in the kitchen. Owner telling people on staff to shut up? Pretty much as telling as can be... "Do as you are told" even kills. I would love to see the finances of this one.

  12. Some of these restaurants fail because the owners have a lazy staff a stupid staff or an untrained staff with no leadership. Blackberries and other restaurants like Zekes were lucky to have talented, intelligent staff, especially their chefs and the owners were too stupid and were too full of themselves to let them do their jobs so they were destined to fail and selfishly took away their employees' livelihoods and their families' money. I hope GR helped those talented chefs.

  13. I don't know if 60% of these restaurants closes. If so, that still makes it 40% of restaurants that survive. Don't forget that most of the restaurants by the time GR turns up are ať the point of no return. That 40% in my eyes is a success! And Gordon is just lovely...

    1. Got to remember that many of those 60% close a lot later than they would otherwise and more of them end up selling (possibly realising that owning a restaurant is not for them).

  14. Wow. Shelley should have stayed with her "hugely successful" catering business. If the food was that great, it would have carried over to the restaurant, no matter what a clueless, childish, ungrateful dictator she is. I feel bad for mother Mary, losing her life savings. I wish that the show would have taken the money they spent redecorating and refurbishing and just given to Mary, for her retirement.

  15. I just finished watching the episode, for the first time. The number one reason of restaurants fail is that, too many items on the menu, overzealous management and nasty attitudes. I hope Shelly's Mom got her money back. I was going up to Jersey to taste the food. Sweetie Pie see you soon.

  16. Crazy. Can't say I'm amazed.

  17. I am the mouse, Herbert Von Skweek. I can absolutely say chef Ramsay didn't put me there. What killed me was some Mac and Cheese I found down the back of one of Shelley's Microwaves. Also, I should let you know it's nice here in Mouse heaven. My next door neighbor is that Mouse from The Green Mile.

    1. Beautiful, but are you sure you didn't pass from eating the chitlins too?! Love this, the episode itself was a wake up call to any and everyone who believes they're the best. If you were, GR wouldn't be getting an SOS from you.

  18. One of the staff members did actually say he found a mouse about a year ago (before KN)...SO i don't thibk he planted it

  19. What happens to all the new kitchen appliances and decor Ramsey paid for??

  20. What everyone missed is that Mother Mary was really in charge due to her investment. It's sad that Shelly didn't care enough about her mother and father to respect their investment. Forget respecting Ramsey...sure he is a consultant...but it's her parents financial well being she compromised.


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