Charlie's Italian Bistro - Kitchen Nightmares Update - Open or Closed?

Charlie's Italian Bistro Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Gordon Ramsay visits Charlie’s Italian Bistro in La Verne, California.

Charlie’s Italian Bistro is owned by Tatiana Leiva.

She used to be a waitress and wanted to run a restaurant.

She was offered the chance to buy the restaurant in 2008.

Tatiana sought financing from her mom and sister Pat and Val, both schoolteachers.

They put their houses up as collateral to make this happen and Tatiana contributed just $1000.

Once Tatiana took over the restaurant, she didn’t change the menu or the chef for sentimental reasons.

The restaurant is empty most days.

The staff believes that Tatiana is the problem as she refuses to change anything.

She doesn’t know how to run a restaurant and can’t see that the chef Casimiro isn’t good.

Tatiana also drinks wine on the job and is disrespectful to staff.

Her relationship with her sister and mom is strained as their homes are on the line.

Gordon comes in and meets Tatiana who is in nervous hysterics at meeting him.

She tells him the origin of the restaurant.

The original owner was Charlie but the restaurant has been sold twice after him.

He then meets Val and Pat and chats with all three outside.

Gordon learns of the financial burden and how both Val and Pat could lose their homes if the restaurant fails.

Meanwhile Tatiana contributed just $1000 to buying the restaurant but she has sole ownership.

He also learns the restaurant was doing badly when Tatiana bought it from Simon 18 months ago.

Gordon decides to try out the service and food of the restaurant and is served by Genevieve.

He orders a toasted ravioli, a fruitte de mare, a chicken pizza and a lasagne.

He is warned it is not the typical lasagne dish.

Gordon tries the bread that is made in-house by the chef but he finds it dreadful.

He describes it as a wet and soggy dough ball.

Daniella is a sous chef and thinks the food is horrible herself.

The ravioli comes and he sees it is raw and he has Tatiana taste the dish and she hates it.

The fruitte de mare comes next. The pasta is too much and the seafood isn't fresh either.

The lasagne comes but the sauce is pink, it tastes strange and it has been unevenly microwaved so it's half cold.

The final dish is the pizza and he thinks it was frozen as he finds it is too doughy.

Tatiana can hear some of Genevieve's feedback to Gordon and makes a statement even Gordon hears.

Gordon then gives feedback to the kitchen staff that the food was hideous.

Tatiana said she trusted the chef Casimiro since he has been cooking at the restaurant for a long time.

But Gordon points out he has been getting away with his mediocre cooking for a long time instead.

Gordon asks to see the mussels and he finds out they are store bought and frozen.

Gordon follows Tatiana into the freezer to see frozen store-bought meatballs.

He is shocked that they don’t make their meatballs themselves.

He finds boxes of noodles, pizza dough and other pastas.

When they are not used the excess is thrown away, creating a lot of food waste.

Gordon tells Tatiana it's her fault for overlooking all this and changing nothing.

She is lost and mismanaging her family’s money.

Gordon arrives to observe their dinner service.

There is a language barrier as Casimiro only speaks Spanish and Daniella translates for them both.

Gordon is maddened by the way Casimiro is making his meatball and sauce.

Daniella makes a meatball and Gordon finds it tasty and says they should serve that.

Casimiro insists on working slowly, one ticket at a time.

He leaves the bulk of the work to Daniella and customers are left waiting.

The customers get their food but are unimpressed with the taste of it.

Gordon sees Casimiro half-burn meatballs in a pan, with the excuse that he is too busy to watch them.

Some have already been served and customers are complaining.

Tatiana neglects to give feedback to the chef.

Casimiro gets upset Gordon is calling him out and then laughs at the whole situation.

Casimiro decides to stop cooking in protest at the complaints from Gordon.

Tatiana gets upset at all that has been exposed and Gordon takes her outside to talk.

Tatiana has a sentimental attachment to Casimiro since he’s been with the restaurant for 10 years.

Gordon tries to make her see her allegiance should be to her family.

He asks her to take responsibility and she consults with Pat and Val on firing Casimiro.

She clears out the kitchen and ends dinner service to tearfully fire Casimiro privately.

Gordon is happy Tatiana has finally stepped up.

The next day he introduces Johnathan, an expert chef who has worked with Gordon in the past.

He has come with an assistant and they will train any chef for them.

They put Tatiana in the kitchen and teach her some of the meals so she knows how it all works.

She makes a lasagne dish in the process.

The next day there is a new menu with the dishes on display, all from Gordon.

At relaunch, the night starts well.

The kitchen is led by Johnathan.

The customers start receiving their meals but some dishes aren’t served at the same time.

There is a communication lag between the servers and the pizza oven operators.

Gordon impresses on Tatiana the need to get her staff to communicate to one another.

There is a turnaround as things fall into place and customers are complimentary of the food.

The relaunch night was a success.

Gordon tells her that the restaurant is finally hers, rather than Charlie’s.

What Happened Next at Charlie's Italian Bistro?

Jonathan stayed on for a month keeping the high standards,

He also helped them to find and train a new head chef.

Charlie's Italian Bistro closed in July 2012.

Yelp reviews after filming are mostly positive.

Most Yelpers loved their visit complimenting the food and service.

The very few negative reviews are due to long waits for food, overpriced items and small portion sizes.

Server Genevieve from Charlie's Italian Bistro sadly passed away from complications due to epilepsy.

Charlie's Italian Bistro was aired on February 17 2012, the episode was filmed in October 2011 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 5 episode 12.

This post was last updated in February 2024.


  1. I had a feeling this was going to be a case of 'too little too late.' I guess I was right. : /

  2. Tatiana had been at Charlies since she was 20, first serving and then eventually owning it. She didn't see it was the head "chef" that was the main issue and so it caused the failure of the business 3 times. Sad to see the place has closed as i go to LA quite a bit and would have loved to stop in and have a flirt.
    Tatiana was stunning and her cute voice was a pleasure. The female chef wasn't too bad either. It's a shame that the place is closed, these people now have to find other work and none of us will ever get to try the famous meatballs.

    1. Award for creepiest comment about a kitchens nightmares goes to...

  3. Oh no. Tatiana needed the wakeup call, but her mum and sister were hardworking people. I feel really bad for them. I hope they didn't lose their houses over this madness.

    1. Tatiana was absolutely responsible for the whole mess. She refused to listen to anybody, and it cost her mother and her sister their houses. I feel bad for them.

  4. The episode does not explain why Tatiana is so protective of her indifferent chef Casimiro. She is falling all over herself to defend and shield him, at the expense of her own family - which seems strange without further explanation. By far the most bizarre remark in the episode is her saying that she "put him on a pedestal." Seriously, what the hell?

    I'd also note that the mother/sister seem equally distraught when Tatiana announces Casimiro's firing.

  5. When I saw him cook the meatballs, it fit. Only someone who cooked from cans would possibly think you boil meatballs in sauce. That is cafeteria cooking not restaurant! He snookered some but when Gordon saw it, he knew this was nothing but a poser in the kitchen. And Casimiro knew the jig was up. When he refused to cook, he pretty much said "fire me."

    1. When the chef boiled the meatballs, I think it was because he was used to making mexican meatball soup called Albondigas.... maybe?

  6. Another case of an owner who just wanted to sit in a bar and drink without thinking the business actually needed to be run.

    Also "I just believed in myself and thought it would work". Far too much listening to 'self help' coaches.

  7. The comment that made me laugh the most was when Chef called Casimiro a "donkey"! HILARIOUS!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Charlie's was actually my first serving job in 2000. It was Cappuccino Charlie's and when Charlie changed the name and quit opening at 6:00 am for coffee it became very successful. He went on to open then close a restaurant in Pasadena. Was excited to see Kitchen Nightmares and check out the old restaurant. Too bad it didn't make it. Great location and when Charlie owned it the food was good.

  9. Since she had put up only $1,000, she had no real skin in the game. And her sister and mother should have seen that huge red flag. I am not surprised it ultimately closed -- a few days with GR and a month with a competent chef wouldn't turn her into a competent businesswoman.


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