Kitchen Nightmares - Mike and Nellie's - CLOSED

Kitchen Nightmares Mike and Nellie's

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Mike and Nellies in Oakhurst, New Jersey.

It was opened in 1996 by father Nellie Farber and son Mike Farber.

They ran it as a team with Nellie in front of house and Mike in the back in the kitchen.

It has gone downhill after Nellie sadly passed away and his daughters have stepped in to help Mike run the restaurant.

Mike had to take over the whole running of the restaurant almost by himself.

As a result the standards have dropped and the restaurant is in desperate need of maintenance after being left to fall into disrepair.

There are complaints about the food as Mike has also slipped in his standards in the kitchen.

Mike also spends a lot of time drinking, even drinking on the job as he is unable to cope with the stress of the restaurant.

Gordon meets Mike’s daughter Samantha who takes a car ride with Gordon and fills him in on the situation.

She says Mike has not being able to move forward since Nellie’s death and he hasn’t asked or let others to help.

Gordon arrives at the restaurant and meets the second daughter, Lexi, and he immediately notes the restaurant is dated and has a bad smell.

Gordon meets Mike and learns they haven’t changed anything in the dining room in the 15 years since they bought it.

He then sits down to order and he notices a moisture stain on the menu.

Gordon meets server Jeanine who tells Gordon that the bad smell in the dining room is the mouldy carpet.

There are steak, seafood and Italian dished on the menu and he is confused on what type of restaurant it is.

He orders the linguine with shrimp sauce, Chicken Murphy and The Steak Nellie.

Gordon can’t help but notice the state of disrepair of the dining room.

He fiddles with a crooked lampshade which eventually falls off.

The first meal to arrive is the linguini with shrimp sauce that is bland, rubbery and the sauce is watery.

Next the chicken murphy arrives, which he says looks horrible on the plate.

He calls in Louis and the daughters to give feedback on the dish and they all agree it could use an update.

Gordon tastes it and it is overcooked, wet, soggy and tasteless.

The steak nellie is the last dish to arrive and the meat is burnt and looks and tastes like charcoal.

Afterwards, he sits with Mike tells him the dishes were dated and inedible and the problem is that the menu is too large.

Gordon returns to observe the dinner service and Mike lets him know he does most of the cooking and the others support him in pushing it out.

Mike cooks fast but the quality is poor as customers send the food back with various complaints.

There is chaos in the kitchen with Mike cooking everything himself, the calamari sent out were overcooked to mush and the steaks were burnt.

Gordon is astounded by how much commotion goes on in the kitchen with Mike at the centre of it all.

Gordon confronts Mike on his drinking in the kitchen and tells him it shows he doesn’t care about his career or his restaurant.

Mike reveals he is stressed by the expectations and he has struggled and lost his passion since his father died.

The next day, Gordon meets with the daughters in their home to talk about Mike.

They shed some light on Mike’s state of mind, how he went straight back to work after the funeral and he is still hurting.

Mike joins in and Gordon lets him know he is 55, not 25 and he can’t keep going as he used to.

The girls tell him he has to let go so others can pick up responsibilities but he insists he trusts no one to be able to do it.

He finally agrees to be somewhat open and listen more.

Gordon and Mike go into the restaurant and they inspect the freezers and storage.

There is raw and chicken meat stored together as well as old lobster bisque and calamari.

There are dirty pans, produce with no dates on and the place is in general need of a deep clean.

Gordon has the kitchen staff come in early to help deep clean the kitchen.

Next Gordon goes through cooking steaks with Mike who is more open to learning and has also put away all his beer bottles.

The meals are great and are served with fresh mashed potatoes and the staff love it.

Gordon begins the renovations by ripping up the mouldy carpets.

A new sign is unveiled with a rebrand to become Mike and Nellie’s Steakhouse.

Inside, there is modern art on the walls, a new carpet, the place has been brightened and the dining room has been opened up with a rustic modern feel.

Gordon then reveals the new menu, which is mostly steak based to fit their new theme.

On relaunch night, customers love the new decor and are eager to taste the food.

In the kitchen, Gordon helps delegate with Sous Chef Daniel running the sides while Mike handles just the grill.

It works at first with Mike calling orders and everyone working together.

An hour in, Mike confuses the kitchen and slips into his previous role of doing everything.

He is reminded to relinquish control and things get back on track.

There has been no complaints or food sent back and Mike has time to go and meet his happy customers.

At the end of dinner service, they are all pleased with the success of the relaunch.



What Happened Next at Mike and Nellie's?

In the weeks following filming business was booming and the menu was a big hit.

Yelp reviews after filming were mostly good, the few negative reviews seem to be off services or complaints of the menu changes made.

Mike and Nellie's closed on January 21st 2012.

The below message was posted on their website,
It is with great sadness that we announce that Mike and Nellie’s will be open for it’s final night, January 21. It’s been a great run.

Thank you to all my friends, relatives and loyal customers who have been there with me for the last 15+ years. When the time is right, I will let you know where I will be. -Mike and (Nellie)

Chef Mike appeared on Fox show Good Day Cafe.

In May 2012, Mike was reported in New Jersey Monthly as managing and cooking at Ray’s Little Silver Seafood Market, he was there a month before moving to Park33 briefly.

He now runs Blue Basil Catering who offer catering services throughout New Jersey.

Mike and Nellie's was aired on October 07 2011, the episode was filmed in July 2011 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 5 episode 3.


Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Leone's

Next episode - Luigi's D'Italia


This post was last updated in January 2021.

14 comments:

  1. He avoided further disaster by closing bfore Sandy destroyed that area.

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  2. Its sad we Knew Nellie and his wife. Even after he died I felt that the food was still very good. The biggest mistake was to air a program about the Restaurant.It was there Dome 4 Sure.

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    1. Blame everybody but the owner. Obviously there were problems or he would not have asked for help. Most likely like most of these restaurants that Ramsey tries to help they are financial so stressed that they just cannot recover. Many are closed due to taxes owed or banks foreclose.

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    2. Clearly it was Ramsay's fault, and not the week old food in the fridge and the carpet that made anyone walk in there go "What the hell is that smell?". Yes, must have been Gordon.

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    3. you are right! i would not trust this guy at any food place. to see the deplorable and disgusting food storage on the show was a disaster. was his own family eating this rotten stuff? i got the impression from Mike's attitude was - HE HAD IT. he should permanently retire from serving the public.

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  3. Hope they're doing well, at least.

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  4. They Asked For Gordon Help And He Tried To Help Them But They Went Back To Their Old Ways!

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  5. I think alcoholism is the biggest problem he, and subsequently the restaurant, had. It's a terrible disease and he must get treatment. If he drank through service when TV cameras were there (a couple of beers and cranberry vodka), I can't even imagine how much he drinks when they aren't there. And that's dangerous. He could kill someone if he got loaded and didn't cook properly. Hope that he gets clean.

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    1. Also, himself and those other cooks. Fire and knives are no joke. You can seriously hurt someone in a kitchen if you aren't on the ball. I suspect everyone was making excuses for him do to his grief but getting out of that situation may have been for the best. It is not the shows fault but the right advice was sell or close so you can get real help.

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  6. Really sad to hear they closed. I was rooting for them.

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  7. Seems like good people but honest to God why in the world would you invite Gordon Ramsay in to help you and have a filthy kitchen

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    1. Habit. That's the really scary thing about it, the fact that it never even crosses their mind to check things out.

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  8. There is obvious alcoholism here and you can't change that by changing the restaurant. The fact that he's gone on to several other restaurants tells me that it's likely he keeps bringing alcoholism and poor judgment with him no matter where he goes. He should retire and not be serving the public.

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  9. When you have people who are NOT experienced in the restaurant business, very rarely will they have any success. Leave it to those who know what they're doing. To blame Gordon Ramsey for the failures of these places is wrong. Place the blame on those who caused the restaurant to fail to begin with.

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