Kitchen Nightmares - Zocalo - CLOSED

Zocalo Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Zocalo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Zocalo is a Mexican restaurant owned by husband Greg Russell and wife Mary Russell, who bought the restaurant in 2008 after they met through working in the restaurant.

Greg is in the kitchen morning to night and Mary works the Front of House three days a week after finishing at her other job.

Their daughters are servers and are upset by witnessing the poor state of their parents relationship at the restaurant.

Gordon arrives and is impressed with the authentic Mexican decor of the restaurant.

He sits down with Greg and Mary and discusses the history of the restaurant.

They talk about the present state, where they are lacking customers, are in $750,000 of debt and losing $1,000 a day.

Gordon sits down to order some food and sees that they have a huge menu with high prices, even the waitress admits she can't afford the food.

describes the Queso Fundido as "a greasy mess so full of oil" and the Chile Relleno is weird looking, salty and dreadful.

The Cochinita Pibil has no seasoning and is dry and the Molcajete is something out of Harry Potter and compares it with eating the inside of a golf ball.

Gordon meets Greg and tells him his feelings on the food and the prices.

Greg admits he isn't the best cook and that he knows his prices are on the high side and both he and Mary blame each other for the pricing.

Gordon arrives to watch a dinner service and finds that half of the kitchen appliances aren't working.

Greg uses the microwave and is trying to do all the cooking himself, making service very slow.

Mary comes in to shout at Greg about customers orders and when the customers receive the dishes they are sent back.

Gordon sits down Mary and their daughters with Greg watching on a screen to discuss Greg, their marriage and restaurant issues.

The women realise that they need to give Greg more help and work together as he cannot keep doing everything himself.

Gordon revamps the kitchen giving them new kitchen equipment including a new oven, a new menu and a new tablet POS ordering system.

He meets with a local University and they will be giving local culinary student in kitchen training, which will help to support Greg.

On relaunch night, Greg is supported in the kitchen and Mary is front of house and running the line.

Mary shouts orders at Greg, is rude to Greg and staff, the communication is poor and the food is backing up.

Gordon pulls Mary aside to get her to step up with communication and Greg gets everything back under control and the kitchen runs well.

The customers love the new and improved food.

What Happened Next at Zocalo?

In the weeks after the show, the dinner services got smoother, the students became part of the team and the relationship between Greg and Mary was improved.

They kept Gordon's menu and the food on their website looked delicious with reduced prices.

Yelp reviews after the show seemed to be mostly average to poor with complaints on poor food, poor service but the cheap cocktails were a hit.

Zocalo closed January 2013, it is reported that it closed for the holidays and did not re-open.

According to Phillymag,
"The Russells did not respond to a call and email seeking comment, and it’s unclear exactly when the restaurant closed. But as of this week, most of Zocalo’s contents appear to have been removed. The website is still up, but the phone number is not working.

A quick review of court records reveals some major problems: a Philadelphia tax lien for $40,000; federal tax liens totalling over $28,000; and a “confession of judgement” relating to the business against Greg Russell for $39,000. And that’s without peeking into the restaurant’s revolving debt, which, at this point, is likely massive."

After Zocalo closed, Greg and Mary divorced and he married Maria, a waitress featured in the episode.

Greg is currently Manager at The Walrus Oyster & Ale House.

Zocalo was aired on March 30 2012, the episode was filmed in November 2011 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 5 episode 15.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

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Next episode - La Galleria 33

This post was last updated in August 2019.

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  1. Poor Greg. I hope Mary DID move back to Mexico as she threatened - he deserved someone who could at least make some attempt to take some of the burden off his shoulders.

    1. What a horrible woman. He is better off

    2. I completely agree, she is a horrible woman and not anything like a real wife. He deserves so much more. I hope that wit h went back to Mexico where she belongs. Greg, you are the sweetest most caring and loving man. You deserve a real woman who will honor and cherish you. Good luck to you Sir.

    3. After doing some research Greg moved to Baltimore and is now the General Manager of Joe Squared. He has split from Mary and is dating someone.

    4. I feel sorry for anyone who marries someone who is incredibly lazy. He should've left her years before the show was featured.

    5. It was plain to see that Mary had a Lover as she only worked 3 days a week and how she treated Greg was disgusting, she spoke to him like dirt! Only Greg could not see what she really was. Mary, you are a terrible woman and will have to face God, as we all do eventually...Greg, God bless You.

    6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    7. Most of the episodes, by the time they finally break down and ask Gordon for help, it is far too late. He turns the restaurants around into profitable ventures but their debt situations would need the successful business, a Brinks car tipping over outside and a winning lottery ticket or two to save them. They should be asking for Gordon's help within 1-2 months of poor business instead of a year or more.

  2. Husband: "I've had no days off in over a year"
    Wife: "I don't wanna do something I don't like"

    How did this guy get himself in this situation. One of the saddest situations in this series.

    Ana, very cute daughter.

  3. Damn, feel so bad for Greg, hope you're doing OK buddy..

  4. I personally knew them because I became a regular at Zocalo (their daughter is seriously an AWESOME bartender), both before and after GR's update. They were both very nice people in a tough situation, and it's sad to see how some people interpreted their relationship-- eh, that's TV though.
    If anyone is interested, Zocalo was bought out by Samer A., a local pizza-shop owner and Philly favorite. The space was turned into a Lebanese restaurant, bar, and hookah lounge and has been doing WONDERFULLY. Unfortunately, Samer A. passed away suddenly shortly after the new restaurant, Aloosh, was opened. His nephew runs Aloosh and it is still very successful.
    I've seen Greg walking in the area in a chef's apron over the past year, so whatever he's doing, perhaps he's still cooking... Best luck to you, man!

  5. My god he had statutory payment problem. This is too much a nice hard working guy like him should not be suffered like this. He is a chef and he also takes all the complaints of ramsay seriously and quitely. This is the only episode where Ramsay didnt shout or yells anybody. He even compliment the Greg the one of the nicest chef. He should get a second chance.

  6. My friend actually ate there a few weeks after the episode aired, and apparently they went back to their old ways. Maybe it was the novelty of it being on KN that spawned its ratings on Yelp, but either way, they didn't seem to have much improvement before Ramsay's help.

  7. So sad ��. It seems like 90% of the restaurants that. Chef Ramsay goes to have closed. What huge waste of time! As Chef would say, "What a bunch of DONKEYS!!"

    1. Actually 60%....Around 40% still going is quite impressive!!

    2. That's actually completely inaccurate about 70% of the restaurants he's visited are now closed

  8. Looks like Greg is the manager at Joe Squared Power Plant Live in Baltimore (never been, but I live in the area and have friends who go there!) and him and Mary are either separated or divorced. He has a new girlfriend.

    1. Good to hear. That ex-wife of his was toxic! Ugh, what a lazy woman. I could understand it if she had another career -- but what was she doing with the other four days out of every week? If she didn't want to cook, fine -- how about shopping, bookkeeping and cleaning then? Horrible.

  9. ppl often forget there's always 2 sides to every story. it's always sad to see ppl in such debt. The wife had a petulantat attitude. She had this idea of an exit plan for Mexico which in it self was a stinking way of giving up. Some people have a careless way of going about things and she proves it. I hope things have worked out for him and he is in a better place in life.

  10. It looks the marriage ended. As others have pointed out, Gregory now lives and works in Baltimore while Mary apparently is now in acting if her twitter bio and photos of a Law and Order SVU set are to be believed.

  11. She's doesn't cares of those food who feed it to customers but she wants theirs moneys worth from customers. Shameful on her!

  12. after binging season after season of KN, this is the first one that Gordon didn't turn into a cuss machine. I really enjoyed this and that man is seriously humble and listens to every bit of word that Gordon said. It really is unfortunate that the restaurant closed.

    Am I only one that noticed the two beautiful servers in the show?

  13. Just saw this.(Apr.2017)We planned on going as its not that far away.So sad to hear they are no longer there.The food looked great! Hard to find a good Mexican restaurant in that town.So sad it closed before we got to try it.

  14. Mmm...seems like debt was a big thing in this situation. Sad to see how that happened. :(

  15. Why do these restaurants wait so long to get help? If they get help sooner they could probably come out of their slump.

    1. Do you have the courage to have your life aired on TV? Those contracts bind you to be filmed in any situation, any time. As you can see, it can mean being filmed without your awareness, and the footage being shown to anyone. It allows them in your home, it allows them to interview your neighbours, enemies and former staff. It is completely invasive.

  16. Maybe they do ask for help sooner, but between them applying to get on the show, being accepted and checked out by producers and finally getting to filming.....all of that could easily take 6 months or more.

  17. The woman had no idea........putting the prices it was a losing battle for the poor chef who was run ragged trying to keep it going.


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