The American version of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares premiered on Fox in the fall of 2007. In the series, Gordon Ramsay visits struggling restaurants, making changes and helping them turn the businesses around. Gordon Ramsay is also known for his other popular shows on Fox, “Hells Kitchen” and “Master Chef.” Usually the restaurants are in utter chaos, leading Ramsay to take drastic measures. Drama ensues, but typically by the end, Ramsay reaches through to the owners, and they finally take major steps to saving their restaurants.
The show is still currently in production, which made me wonder what restaurants from the first season are still currently open? After doing much investigation, visiting the areas and making many phone calls, I’ve come to find the following: Of the 10 restaurants showcased in the original season, only three are still currently open, three have been sold and the other six have all closed. And one owner and chef who appeared in the first season actually committed suicide in 2010. This article gives you a recap of the first season and the status of all 10 restaurants today.
Peter’s (Babylon, New York)
Air Date: Sept. 19, 2007
In this premiere episode, Gordon takes on a hapless Italian eatery named “Peter’s” in Babylon, New York. The restaurant’s main (and seemingly only problem) is Peter, the manager and co-owner, who is literally running his sister’s restaurant into the ground financially. The man sees himself as if he has been cast directly from a mob movie, but in reality appears more like a character from the Jersey Shore, always busy tanning, working out, and looking at himself in the mirror, while not lifting a finger to contribute to the business.
Eventually Gordon has a strong one-on-one with Peter, telling him he needs to step up or the restaurant will fail. He also introduces a new family-style menu (as the restaurant is run and operated by a family itself), and other improvements, such as cleaning the freezers and buying new equipment for the kitchen. At the end of the episode, the restaurant is a success, and everyone is swimmingly happy, even Peter.
According to many local dining sites in Babylon, New York, Peter’s closed briefly after the episode was taped for Fox.
Dillon’s (New York, New York)
Air Date: Sept. 26, 2007
Dillon’s (which changes names to Purnima over the course of the episode) is an Indian/American restaurant that is struggling to stay afloat in New York City (ironically two blocks from one of Gordon’s successful restaurants). The menu is confusing with both Indian and American food, and after ordering several vegetarian items from the menu, Gordon realizes they aren’t even vegetarian. Upon investigation of the kitchen, Gordon finds cockroaches, flies and rats.
Ramsay has the entire kitchen area power-washed, restructures the menu and hires an Indian food consultant to replace a useless manager. The restaurant finally begins turning a profit, and Gordon leaves wishing them success in the future.
The restaurant’s website is still up, but after further investigation, many local reviews claim that it is closed. I attempted to call the number listed on the restaurant’s website for reservations, and it was disconnected.
The Mixing Bowl (Bellmore, New York)
Air Date: Oct. 3, 2007
The Mixing Bowl is on its last legs, due to much local competition with other eateries, a dreary dining room and marital problems with co-owners Billy and Lisa. When opened, there were only four restaurants in the area, and at this point there are 47.
Noticing the beauty and tanning salons in the area, Gordon suggests moving more toward healthy food selections on the menu, to cater to the locals. Besides from revamping the menu, Gordon remodels the restaurant, brings in a local soccer team to help with starting a buzz for the Mixing Bowl, and seemingly solves Billy and Lisa’s marriage problems. The episode ends saying that two months later, the Mixing Bowl is still a success, and Billy and Lisa are still happily married.
Local pages for Bellmore, New York claim this restaurant has been closed. I attempted to call the restaurant, however the number has been disconnected.
Seascape (Islip, New York)
Air Date: Oct. 10, 2007
After Peter’s father dies, he inherits the family restaurant that he co-runs with his mother. The staff walks all over Peter, as he’s somewhat of a momma’s boy, and the kitchen is unclean and in a disarray. Ramsay also realizes basically all the food is frozen, even though it claims to all be fresh on the menu.
Gordon cleans house, firing all of the lazy staff, and head chef. He then brings in a replacement chef, retools the menu, and lights a fire under Peter to toughen up, and lead his team. Gordon leaves, assuming he has given them the tools to run a successful restaurant.
In the closure of this episode, Ramsay explains that Peter was made an offer and decided to sell the restaurant. It was changed to “The Coast.”
Upon further investigation, the restaurant listed at this address at this current time is “J & R Steakhouse.” I called the restaurant, and the steakhouse is still currently in operation under new management.
The Olde Stone Mill (Tuckahoe, New York)
Air Date: Oct. 17, 2007
The problems at Olde Stone Mill boiled down to bad food, and worst management. Dean and his wife run and own the restaurant, and currently find themselves in debt to the tune of 500k. However, both seem to rather avoid this fact, rather then attempt to deal with it. Dean spends most of the time talking and joking around with the guests, the restaurant manager seems to always be bumbling around, and the chef has lost all of his passion.
Ramsay tours the town, and realizes Tuckahoe does not yet have a quality steakhouse. He re-creates the restaurant’s menu, teaches them how to make a great steak, redecorates the dining area, and the relaunch is successful.
The restaurant appears to have been sold in 2009 to the Napoli family (per the website), who currently run and operate the Olde Stone Mill. They are currently open for business.
Sebastian’s (Toluca Lake, California)
Nov. 7, 2007
The first restaurant in the series to deviate from New York, Sebastian’s is a pizza shop in California. Run perhaps by the man with the biggest ego ever to grace Kitchen Nightmares, Sebastian constantly butts heads with Gordon, insisting that he is a master chef and continues to brag about the concept of his menu, which basically is too long and confusing for customers. Nearly all the food is frozen and bought in, and even though the restaurant is very close to closing, Sebastian is delusional and continues to believe he is steps away from turning the brand into a franchise.
Despite Sebastian’s best efforts, Ramsay fixes the menu to be less confusing, and puts more emphasis on fresh pizzas with handmade dough, instead of frozen crusts, using wood-stone ovens at the location, which up until that point had simply been used as decoration. The entire staff works hard and achieves success, and within the final three minutes, Sebastian comes to an epiphany , and finally decides to accept the changes to his failing restaurant.
Reading reviews on Sebastian’s, after the changes by Ramsay were initiated, Sebastian began adding the original dishes back to the menu, and then eventually sold the restaurant after again falling on hard times and bad reviews. It is now currently owned by Anthony Albano, and named Robano’s. They are currently open for business, as a successful pizzeria.
Finn McCool’s (West Hampton, New York)
Air Date: Nov. 14, 2007
Finn McCool’s is a family-owned Irish restaurant opened by Buddy (a retired police officer). The restaurant struggles with customers and isn’t very popular among the locals. Gordon finds that Buddy’s son, Brian, is a chef that likes to cut corners and no longer has a passion for cooking.
Gordon works to bring the family together, redecorates the inside of the restaurant, and adds new rustic and authentic Irish dishes to the menu. Finn McCool’s reopens, to much success, and as a parting gift, Ramsay gives the family a new outdoor sign for the venue.
The first restaurant still open and currently owned by the original management, Finn McCool’s is still family operated, and appears to have received fairly positive and consistent reviews over the past several years, since the transformation.
Lela’s (Pomona, California)
Air Date: Nov. 21, 2007
Lela’s is in trouble. The restaurant sits in a poor neighborhood, while trying to serve high-end dishes (most of which are frozen, anyways). The head chef is at odds with the waiting staff, and Lela, the owner, has trouble asserting her authority, leading to the employees running wild, and a member of the prep staff even gets caught stealing food and bottles of wine.
Ramsay decides to customize the menu to offer less expensive options, all of which is more fresh, and cooked and prepared in house. Lela steps up and shows some authority to her staff, by firing the prep cook who was caught stealing. After a few change-ups in the staff, and well publicized relaunch, the restaurant is able to find success, and finally offer the area a cheap yet fresh dining experience.
Lela’s actually closed before the episode even aired.
Campania (Fair Lawn, New Jersey)
Air Date: Nov. 28, 2007
Campania was facing mountains of debt, as the customers began to dwindle, and the owner and head chef, Joe Cerniglia, was facing about $80,000 in unpaid loans. Ramsay immediately begins to see many major flaws in the operation. The staff (and the owner) treat the job like high school, and not a business, goofing around, and locking each other in the coolers. The restaurant is also over-stocked with food, spoiling before being able to be sold, losing major profits. The restaurant is also over-staffed, and the portion sizes are too large.
Ramsay decides to make an addition of home-made meatballs to the menu, something Campania can use as their signature dish. He works on the remainder of the menu, adding more fresh Italian choices, served in smaller portions, and get’s the wait-staff more involved in pushing entrees that the restaurant need to move more quickly to turn a profit. After a successful night (and Ramsay calling an old, cranky patron “an old bag” to her face), things seem to be looking up for the Italian restaurant.
Unfortunately, as reported by the New York Post in 2010, despite the restaurant reportedly doing “very well”, Joe Cerniglia committed suicide, by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
The Secret Garden (Moorpark, California)
Air Date: Dec. 12, 2007
The Secret Garden is run by a French Chef who believes his food is the best (as usual, as seen on this show), although the restaurant itself is in dire trouble, the decor is very outdated, and there are hardly ever any customers.
Gordon begins by trying to uncomplicate the menu, and update the decor of The Secret Garden, much to the chagrin of Michel, the owner and head chef. The two continuously butt heads, resulting in a climax where Ramsay screams in Michel’s face, declaring that he is a “french pig!”. Eventually, Michel realizes the changes are benefiting the restaurant, and the two part ways by shaking hands, and Gordon leaves The Secret Garden with every chance to be successful.
Reading recent reviews of the restaurant, The Secret Garden is still currently open, and is still owned by head chef Michel.
Peters Closes on ubanspoon.com
Mixing Bowl on Yelp.com
Seascape on Yelp.com
Albanos to replace Sebastians on LA.Eater.com
Finn McCools on Yelp.com
Lelas closes on Dailybulletin.com
Campania Chef commits suicide on NYPOST.com
Secret Garden on Yelp.com