Kitchen Nightmares - El Greco - CLOSED

El Greco Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits El Greco in Austin, Texas.

El Greco is an authentic Greek restaurant owned by Jake Konstantinidis and his mother Athina.

They bought the restaurant in 2007 with Athina investing all of her money in it.

Jake works as the cook and his aunt Kiki and Athina also help in the kitchen.

Business was thriving when it first opened but it has declined in the last year.

Jake is constantly late for his shifts and turns up just before the service starts.

Anthina and Kiki do all the prep for the service and are in the restaurant from 6am each morning.

Jake says he doesn’t come in early because he is avoiding his mother and she is hurt by his change in attitude.

The food quality has declined and morale at the restaurant is incredibly low.

Gordon arrives at restaurant and meets Jake and Athina, who immediately goes in for a hug as she is pleased to see him.

They sit down together for a little catch up and they describe their roles in the restaurant.

Athina explains that her and her sister Kiki also cook in the kitchen.

While talking, a fly flies around them. Athina has excellent reflexes and catches and kills the fly in front of the customers.

While describing a typical day, Jake tries to paint a picture of an early start at work but Athina tells Gordon he comes in at 11am.

Jake says he doesn’t know what the biggest problem with the restaurant is and Athina quickly says that Jake is the problem.

She says he has changed and he is not happy with the way he talks to her.

He calls her a nag and she says she would rather die than continue to watch what he has become.

Athina says she invested $800,000 into the restaurant and they are still losing money each month.

Gordon leaves them to go and try out the lunch service in the restaurant.

Gordon spies the kitchen manager Anthony pacing about in the kitchen and asks to speak to him.

He reveals how much tension there is between mother and son.

Jake is only at the restaurant around 3 hours a day and the rest of the time he is at home playing video games.

Gordon orders a stuffed zucchini, lamb shank and moussaka.

The zucchini has poor presentation and Gordon describes it as something out of an alien movie, it is bland and disgusting.

The lamb shank is depressing, he can tell it has been microwaved as it is anaemic and it tastes salty.

The moussaka is stuck to the plate and he compares it to dog food.

The server Dustin tells him about the Chef Mike they have in the kitchen who turns out to be the microwave.

Gordon gives feedback to the owners and kitchen staff and tells them that there was nothing authentic about what they served.

He thinks Jake doesn’t care as he is unresponsive so he requests to talk with Athina alone.

Gordon tells her that Jake has lost his passion.

He tells her that those who lose their passion are the hardest to turn around but he hopes it is not too late.

The dinner service is fully booked as news has reached the town that Gordon is at the restaurant.

Gordon meets Diego, a line cook who 14 years of experience cooking in kitchens.

But he sees meal after meal being put in the microwave while the 12 gas ring burners aren’t used at all.

Gordon gets into an argument with Jake on the microwave use for every dish.

Jake defends his use of the microwaves by saying he isn't cooking but reheating which astounds Gordon who tells him he needs to respect what he is cooking.

Gordon is astounded there are 3 chefs in the kitchen and no one is cooking.

After the dinner service, he gives feedback to the staff and Jake is rude to Athina and asks her to leave the restaurant.

Gordon has seen enough and he walks away from the restaurant for the evening.

The next day, Athina and her Kiki come in early to prep the kitchen.

Jake had promised to come at 10am to help with the prep but instead he comes in after midday.

Immediately he is screamed at by Kiki who is defending her sister from his lazy behaviour.

Jake is tired and upset and leaves the kitchen.

Gordon comes in and sees Athina and Kiki upset in the kitchen and they tell Gordon about Jake.

He calls in Jake who says he is tired of the nagging and the sisters ganging up on him.

Gordon gets them to calm down and tells them they all need to wipe the slate clean.

Jake has to start coming early and Athina and Kiki have to stop nagging him.

They make up and commit to work together.

Gordon gathers the staff outside for a surprise and he goes to the third floor of the building and throws Chef Mike out of the window.

This is the act that shows that they are committing to cooking everything from fresh from then onwards.

He works with Jake and the kitchen staff to learn new authentic, Greek dishes that will feature on the new menu.

The staff sample and all love the taste of the new dishes that they try.

Gordon’s team work all night giving the restaurant a makeover.

The dining room has been brightened up, with a Greek theme and accents of white and blue everywhere.

Next, Gordon reveals the new menu to the staff and explains that the dishes are all made fresh with no microwave involved.

On relaunch night everything is to be cooked fresh to order.

All the food is to be made from scratch and the cooks are all excited to be cooking properly for the first time in years.

The diners love the meals but with more orders come through Jake starts trying to do too much.

Soon customers are left waiting for the food and his cooks are left standing around whilst he rushes around.

Gordon talks Jake into delegating to the staff and the food starts leaving the kitchen again.

Once again tasty, fresh meals are being served to waiting customers who enjoy the food.

The night ends a great success and they celebrate by breaking a few plates to signify that they are breaking old habits and starting afresh.



What Happened Next at El Greco?

In the following weeks, progress is made and there was positive feedback from the community, however the debts were too large and too difficult for them to over come.

El Grego closed in December 2011.

Several staff left the restaurant including the lead line cook and there were many disagreements after the episode was filmed, according to cook James.

James also claimed that Jake was difficult to work with and had already started cutting corners on Gordon's menu.

Yelp reviews after his visit were mostly poor with negative comments on the food quality, menu availablity and slow service.

Local press reported that the regulars were not pleased with the changes that Gordon made.

Many regulars claimed that Gordon removed the authentic Greek food and replaced it with generic Greek fast food.

El Greco was aired on January 20 2012, the episode was filmed in August/September 2011 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 5 episode 9.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Michon's

Next episode - Park's Edge


This post was last updated in February 2021.

19 comments:

  1. I thought the makeover looked pretty good, I think they were just in too much debt to be able to climb out in time.

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  2. Not shocked it closed, the "chef" had one of the worst attitudes I've seen in the show. His aunt was right on point about him. I do feel bad for Athina, hope she's ok

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  3. I'm amazed Jake wasn't put down with the way he spoke to his mother.

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  4. I feel bad that 2/3rds of the restaurants Gordon visits close down. What does that tell us? He arrives too late? This is more about entertainment than really helping? What?

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    1. In some cases, the debts are too significant, and an improvement in the business would have to be fast and huge to keep creditors at bay. By the time KN comes in, many of these places seem like they should have been forced into bankruptcy years before! In others, stubborn owners or chefs revert to the old ways that were failing them in the first place. I do sometimes wonder if the short time Gordon spends at each place is simply not enough to undo existing damage - be it family drama, incompetence, bad reputation, etc.

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    2. I don't think it's on him. If he didn't visit, 100% would close.

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    3. well alot of the places he does help seems to be so deep down in debt when he already arrives alot of them seem to be around 1 million in debt which is obviously gonna take some time to pay off and as such they could close for that reason but it can also be that they just go back to their old ways or sell it to someone else.

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    4. You have to keep in mind that turning a profit in the restaurant business is very hard as is. The fact that 1/3 remain open in the worst business venture there is, is pretty great.

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    5. The thing is that the majority of the time, Gordon Ramsay doesn't come in and talk to the owners about how to price food, how to run the business in general. It's a redecoration, a new menu, maybe a little therapy, then gone. But the best menu on the planet isn't going to save a restaurant owner who doesn't know how to price his food, pay creditors or invest in the right things to make the business work.

      So yeah, of course most of the failing business still tank. They're on their last legs anyway, but not getting a proper education on how to run the business end and pay off their debts really helps them along.

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  5. @Mark Holloway what it shows us is that people are either to stubborn, uneducated, or impassionate to ask for help before it is to late. Gordon is a very successful restauranteur and I feel sure that those restaurants that have made a come back thanks to his help were caused by a genuine desire to have their restaurant succeed.

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  6. If I were to speak to my mother the way this guy did, I wouldn't have lived long enough to regret it. He is a disrespectful little turd! The only reason I can't say I'm happy his business failed is because he dragged his mother down with him.

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  7. Just started watching this show and Im up to Season 5, I think Michons was the only restaurant so far that was not in so much debt.

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    1. Its pretty clear how business savvy the parents were. They had a good business and could also see the train wreck was coming long long before hand.

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  8. Another so called "CHEF" in these episodes thinking reheating pre cooked food is just fine lol. Poor mother with useless son maybe he should play video games as a job and see how he does.

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  9. I hope that now that the restaurant is closed that the mother and aunt have a place to stay with other family members,hopefully the son would take better care of them though.

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  10. chef useless with bad attitude and so lazy rip chef mic

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  11. Chef Mic isn't much of a cook but at least he shows up on time.

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  12. Couldn't even finish the episode. The attitude of the owner's son had me take to the internet to confirm suspicions. Only other episode to do that do me so far was the owner of the restaurant whose boyfriend accused Gordon of planting dead mice to pad ratings for television.

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