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Gordon ruined El Greco. Can it be saved from the RIP thread?

Hounds pardon my diatribe here. El Greco had a bad business model, those of you who have gotten a 17.00 lamb gyro or a 10 dollar bowl of chicken soup know what I'm talking about. But that aside, this was really great greek food. My work crew and I probably dined for lunch there 30-50 times since it opened. Barring maybe a couple foibles a couple times, the food was consistently stellar (at least the dishes we tended to get each time). Our crew went today and were told that Ramsey came in and said the food was too authentic and completely changed the menu, way over cheesed the decor (yep, it's worse), and frankly ruined the food. Now grandmother tells us they're under contract to serve that new slop for some months, and now El Greco is just another crappy non-authentic greek fast food joint in town replete with others just like it. Apparently they were nearing closing as it was and maybe the Ramsey show gave them a little breathing room. We all must be careful what we wish for.

Remember the lemony hummus? Best I've had, and I love lemon. GONE. Now it's like a huge jar of it from some vendor. and it takes like sh@#.

Remember the Avgolemono chicken soup, those fraction of a hair thin strands of chicken swimming in there and that light lemony delicateness and richness?? gone, welcome to cambell's-ville. something more stewy and entirely canned. gross.

Remember the tender seasoned pita? Now it's crispy, dry, overly toasted stale tasting. crap.

Remember the pork you got precious little of but it was so good you may have ordered it often? Gone. No pork to be found at El Greco any longer. Brits think we hate pork or something? moronic.

Son and Grandmother said that Ramsey didn't like any of the food at his tasting. Of course he didn't, isn't that the justification for doing the show????? duh. Said it was too authentic and that americans don't like authentic. What a disingenuous git.

The solution was not to mess with what wasn't broken, the food, and fix the business model in other ways. Make service faster (maybe another one on the line?), add a few more tables, lower all prices by 30% without changing the sizes of entrees, and cut the sides' sizes in half and charge 1.99 or something like that instead of 6-10 bucks (outrageous). I guess actually solving the problems isn't good TV.

Some of you may disagree with my assessment of the food. I'm sure better Greek can be found somewhere, but not in austin. And their grilled lamb chops were always as good as any I've had, anywhere, and I got them or the lamb gyro most every time. I cannot comment on the moussaka, for example. They used the same grilled meat in their lamb gyros, not that processed lamboloney hanging from most other places' gyro turner. That's gone too, now it's more like a stewed lamb brisket sort of deal, much less flavor. sad.

Soon this place could easily close and be the next victim in the RIP thread. Here's to Grandmother and saving her restaurant. I'll have to get her name. She would sometimes give us free soup, and it felt pretty motherly, and the taste.....so so good, and so so gone. insanity. just keep the great food and lower the prices for God's sake. They'll line out the door. We'd visit twice a week instead of once a month.

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El Greco
3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

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  1. Ugh this definitely changes my opinion of him; I actually used to think he was a pretty smart guy.

    1. in another thread, there was some back and forth on opposing opinions of GR's abilities.
      sorry one of your fave restaurants isn't good any more.
      i've never eaten there, but agree that great greek food is hard to find in austin.
      i'm northwest and our options up here are horrid.

      why is it so hard to find basics, like skordalia and taramasalata?

      1. The Brits can keep Ramsey, maybe we can get his passport revoked?

        1. "If you're going to defend yourself the least you could do is to stick to the point. You wrote that you're not sure what qualifies Gordon Ramsay to turn around restaurants. The man operates many very well-regarded and successful restaurants around the world. Is there really anything more that need be said on the matter? " ..." Before I was only being flippant. Now, however, I'm being contentious because I take exception to your continuing effort to vilify and discredit him."

          5 Replies
          1. re: rudeboy

            I don't care for Gordn Ramsay, one way or the other. I've only had one meal at one of his restaurants and it was good, and I find some amusement in his Hell's Kitchen show.

            That being said, it's important to separate Gordan Ramsay, the chef, from Gordon Ramsay, the businessperson. Thre is no question, based on everything I've tasted and read / heard, that he is a fantastic chef. By the same token, he is pretty clearly a terrible businessperson. A simple Google search will reveal the financial duress his restaurant "empire" is currently under.

            Unfortunately, for someone looking to turnaround their restaurant, they need a businessperson as much as, if not more than a chef, and in that regard Mr. Ramsay is a poor choice.

            "well-regarded" and "successful" do not necessarily go hand-in-hand,...

            1. re: FattyDumplin

              the GR persona on the telly is quite different from the GR person in real life. he puts on his "on-air" persona when the cameras are turned on....the show is all about ratings and when he is off camera the majority have said he is a nice guy and quite helpful. Also he has become too involved in the television show at the expense of his restaurants

            2. re: rudeboy

              Respectfully, have you ever read any of the resto biz financial reports on GR's many "successful" restaurants...? While I'm a religious viewer of his many TV shows, and truly do believe that he's an accomplished chef, when you read about how poorly many of his establishments around the world do financially, well...makes me wonder...Check it out...

              1. re: stellawine

                those that fail mostly are because they were deep in debt due to back taxes or back rent before they finally gave up and called GR couldn't be saved no matter how much help he gave them. the Joe guy who committed suicide for example was on cocaine and having an affair with one of his waitresses so despite GR saving his restaurant he went off the deep end.

                1. re: iowastate

                  this refers to restaurants that are actually owned by GR, not ones he helps

            3. My question is: where is the restaurant situated? In a Greek neighborhood or an Americanized one? If it's the latter then Gordon Ramsay may have made the right call. How many Chinese restaurants are successful because they dumb down their menu for Yanks? Quite a few. We should all address the duck tongues in the room and admit that a lot of Americans only want to know the bastardized versions of ethnic food. Even in Quebec City the slop joints on rue, St Louis had more turnover (the customers being American & Asian tourists) than the more superior French joints down the road.

              1. I went there for lunch today. I'm certainly not a greek expert but I enjoyed my meal. We ordered the red pepper hummus which was ok, the pita was a bit dry. We ordered the spanokopita and we got it after we received the entrees which was odd. I asked the waiter and he said it takes 20 mins to make the spanokopita. Kinda weird to have the app come out after the mains, but it was certainly worth the wait. the filo was nice and crispy and the filling was lovely. one of the best I've ever had. I had the beef mousaka which was nice. She got the feta burger which came out med rare and very juicy. The waiter didn't ask how we wanted it cooked and if you prefer a more cooked burger you would be happy, but from what I tasted it was great. the baklava was interesting. not what I typically have had since it looked like a pinwheel. tasted good, but not spectacular.

                1. :-( Yeah, post GR was sad. They had great food before. It was a little high, but it was great. I was sad to see that our eating options are now slab of meat off the grill, moussaka or a "gyro plate" served with fries. And the heads painted on the wall, that's a bit odd. Definitely not as good as the photos of Greece that they had before.

                  And what makes GR think that Americans don't appreciate authentic ethnic food? He's terribly wrong if he thinks we all eat fries with everything and want our food bland and fried.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Yanagibashi

                    Did they have moussaka before? A good moussaka is incredibly hard to find in this part of the world.

                    1. re: TAF

                      They did have and it was excellent. Not too heavy on the potatoes, which seems to be the big downfall of moussaka in this town.

                  2. im sure they contacted gr and they wouldnt be on the show if the resturaunt wasnt such a mess at least business wise.

                    1. There are some grim one star reviews appearing on Yelp since the "transformation," one describing how two cooks and a waiter all quit while the reviewer was there. It sounds like those who liked it before now hate the place, those who hated it won't be won over by the changes and those who have never been will probably continue to avoid it unless they're tempted by the freakshow aspect.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: ghastlyfop

                        It was terrible before (overpriced by a longshot, minimalist portions of standard greek food at fancy restaurant prices, comically awful service) and sounds like it's terrible now, but in a more corporatized way. There wasn't really any chance I would be going to El Greco regardless of a tv show makeover when Sarah's and Arpeggio are not far away.

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                        El Greco
                        3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                        1. re: heyzeus212

                          It was far from standard in the opinion of many of us. They used quality pork and lamb, not the typical gyro meat lamb-boloney cut from a spit (I do like that stuff, but THAT is what is standard).

                          1. re: slowcoooked

                            I suppose nothing I had there in the two times I visited stood out, other than the poor service and value. I definitely wouldn't say the food itself was bad; I recall the hummus being creamy and delicious (but only being given a few small wedges of pita to enjoy it with).

                            1. re: slowcoooked

                              Why are we only just now hearing how wonderful El Greco was before the makeover? If you'd have described the food like this before, some of us might have tried it. I never went because the only thing I ever heard about them at all was that they were overpriced.

                              1. re: stephanieh

                                There are plenty of posts about El Greco on Chowhound. Very few of them describe it as wonderful.

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                                El Greco
                                3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                        2. Don't let the TV drama get you confused. Sorry Gordon, I hope there is a part of you that really wants to help. But to me it looks like your just selling bad TV. The link below has some bad info on he show.

                          http://www.zeitgasm.com/?p=793

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Luxint

                            The service was poor unless they recognized you as a regular, then they'd at least give you something if the wait was long. The value was ridiculous on some dishes. But Gordon ruined their food. Maybe a few bits remaining are passable, but they destroyed delicious soup, lamb gyro and pork dishes. I'm completely unsurprised by the Luxint link, if it's true.

                            As heyzueus212 said, the hummus was creamy and I'll add uniquely lemony and my favorite in town by far. My work crew all loved this place and would have gone twice a week instead of our usual once or twice a month just because of the poor value. Their problem was not the food. sad, they'll probably end up on that closed list.

                            1. re: slowcoooked

                              Liked the old, very sad with the new. Dinner about a week ago and only two other tables occupied. I will say very friendly server. Ordered the half grilled chicken. Server came backhand said sorry they're out. Hmmmmm. Ok, Greek salad and falafel burger ordered. 15 minutes later the saddest Greek salad came out with clearly pre-torn lettuce, maybe a half teaspoon of flavorless feta, a couple of olives and drizzled dressing (not tossed in the kitchen). Dressing was tasteless as was the $8 salad. I felt offended by the price once I saw what was served. Then simply sad for the owner when that's what they put forth as a Greek salad at a Greek restaurant. Falafel burger was simply inedible. Grease laden, off-putting flavor.

                              Hard plywood bench seat and blue stripe decor - not great.

                              It's too bad.

                              1. re: boshtx

                                Sad even more is the owners of these places that Gordon ruins are contractually obligated to maintain his new menu / decor for a period of time. The owner's mom told us that in obvious teary distress after this all went down. That period of contract is probably sufficient to kill the place leaving the owners unable to stop the bloodletting. stupid TV, solid a-hole.

                                1. re: boshtx

                                  At a certain point it's up to the restauranteur to execute some basic concepts. Some people seem to blame Gordon Ramsay for El Greco's problems. But your story seems to offer more of a description about the owners failing to get their act together.

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                                  El Greco
                                  3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                                  1. re: ridgeback

                                    Agreed they have to have some major fundamental problems to elicit the show's attention. But the show fixed largely what wasn't broken. these poor folks charged 6 dollars plus for friggin' sides. horrid business model. but their food was great. in comes gordon. add some cheesey decor and some meh pop greek fair, bam. here we have it. would that we all could have just told them to keep the menu and step up the service and drop the prices by a third, we'd be waiting out the door every day for lunch.

                                    1. re: slowcoooked

                                      But even after the show's taping the crew at El Greco is flailing...they apparently can't order enough chicken, cook lamb, or dress a lousy salad. Perhaps if they can figure out how to do some or all of those things, they'll have a fighting chance.

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                                      El Greco
                                      3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                            2. If you'd been to El Greco in the last 2 years you were treated with expensive meals reheated in a microwave. Most of the food was mushy and bland, and often cold in the center indicating it was frozen before being zapped in the mic. It was especially disappointing for this New Yorker, relocated to Austin, in search of anything resembling Greek food. The new menu, while simple and modest, is cooked to order and fresh. It takes a while now, but iis a complete 180 from my previous visits; especially the last one whIch made me swear off El Greco forever. Now I'm a fan.

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                              El Greco
                              3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: sasebastian

                                Sasebastian you have posted two comments on this board in total, nuff said. the Greco food took a while to bring to the table (yeah, not great timing) because it was NOT the typical gyro meat sliced off a hopper; it was straight up non ground, nicely grilled lamb or pork marinated and grilled to order for the plates. Was it enough? never. Was it delicious? always. where you got microwave I have no idea, that cooking device doesn't caramelize an exterior without ruining the interior. ever heard of the maillard reaction? microwaves don't do that well except from the inside out. i've eaten there probably 50 times, it's always been delish. we probably will soon lose the most authentic greek restaurant in town thanks to the owners' own business foibles and their contract with the TV show. how sad. the avgolemono they gave us when the food was a tad late was sublime. Now what? horrid chicken veg from campbells or what not. gross. nice job ramsey.

                                1. re: slowcoooked

                                  Dunno what total number of posts has to do with anything... I eat, I have opinions and I love good food. We have different tastes and opinions, and different experiences at El Greco, as it seems do other people replying in this thread and all over Yelp. No big deal. But, most importantly, I've eaten there enough times to make me not want to go any more. I wanted to like it, really. But, no such luck until now. So I patronize El Greco now and spread the word. They stay in business and slowly add more traditional items to the menu. Maybe a nice souvlaki or pastichio to start.

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                                  El Greco
                                  3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                                  1. re: slowcoooked

                                    After watching the episode, it seems that sasebastian was right about the microwave.

                                    1. re: slowcoooked

                                      Wow.....I totally missed this comment! Just goes to show that even people with only two comments on this board aren't stupid. :P

                                      1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                        has slowcooked posted on this thread since the episode aired? Hard to trust his opinions if he's a big fan of chef Mic!

                                    2. Looks like the end may be near:

                                      "El Greco is owned and run by Chef Jake Konstantinidis, who moved to Austin from New York City, along with his mother Athena.

                                      Holbrook continues:

                                      Jake is very controlling and degrading to work with [...] He doesn't come downstairs from his condo unless he has to, I don't know exactly whats going on up there, but I know it it isn't any good (wait till you see the episode of Kitchen Nightmares). I have seen him make waitstaff pay for walked tables out of there tips.Seen him flip out and threaten staff with kitchen utensils etc.

                                      On the quality of the menu and his hopes for the restaurant after Gordon Ramsay's taping, Holbrook says:

                                      The quality of the produce used is steadily going downhill. Every corner imaginable is being cut from Ramsay's new menu [...] I was hoping things would turn around, that I could help him get out of his "Restaurateurs Slump". El Greco was a waste for Kitchen Nightmares."

                                      http://austin.eater.com/archives/2011...

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                                      El Greco
                                      3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: The Tres Leches

                                        i would take the word of a disgruntled ex-employee with a grain of salt...

                                      2. I have to agree. I like GR and think generally his insights are appropriate.

                                        But here he dumbed the menu down to roll cart status. The interior make over is a joke. The designer water pitchers are unmangeable and weighted poorly. I doubt he ever tried to pour out of one.

                                        What is left is still OK, but the breadth and uniqueness are pretty much gone. And not having a special every day limits the appeal of the abbreviated menu for repeat customers. Hello? Isn't that what a successful restaraunt needs?

                                        In this case, both the owner and GR failed. GR at business comprehension and decorating and menu revision, the owner for not sticking to his preparation standards. The restaraunt needed a surgeon to trim the waste, but got a bloody blacksmith who tried to bang it into submission with a hammer.

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                                        El Greco
                                        3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: maxnix

                                          spot on.... tragic considering that the old menu and old decor, with 33 percent cheaper (equals reasonable) prices and snappier service may have caused the place to be packed lunch and dinner.

                                        2. Gordon ruined EL Greco? It's perfectly clear from every restaurant Kitchen Nightmare's visits that the restaurant is on it's last leg when GR get's there.

                                          The truth is customers always vote with their feet. So regardless of how good the writer thinks the food was before GR arrived, the majority of customers weren't biting. (Obviously, no one felt a bowl of chicken was worth $10.)

                                          As for the owners claim of Gordon thinking the food was "too authentic ", I'll believe that when I see the episode air. I have NEVER heard Gordon Ramsay ever say "Lower the standards so you can turn a profit". Too authentic, my ar$e.

                                          17 Replies
                                          1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                            I agree with Skunk. Do we know when this episode will air?

                                            1. re: Pmd669

                                              all one has to do is look at the new decor designed by some cheesemaster on Gordon's staff to know it's possible that he's not always spot on.

                                              1. re: slowcoooked

                                                Slowcooked, we get it.

                                                Either you have an emotional connection to EL Greco, have an axe to grind with Ramsay, or both.

                                                The fact is, it's a business. It's a business that was sinking and obviously would have sank, regardless of the improvements that Ramsay tried to make. Like I said, customers vote with their feet and most (excluding you and a couple others) were voting "nay".

                                                1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                  Yeah, but it wasn't sinking based on the quality of the food.

                                                  The restaraunt business is a tricky business to stay profitable yet appeal to a sufficient clientele to remain viable. I have seen outside forces like weather close many well run reataurants at once because it is not a business set up to endure no or low cash flow for very long.

                                                  The four or five times I was there before GR came through, it was always at least 60% full with a healthy take out business to boot. So I think any problems were operational and not food quality related. i.e. - The owner would have been better talking to an accountant experienced in the business to manage costs.

                                                  1. re: maxnix

                                                    Well, I guess we'll know the truth when the episode airs, huh?

                                                    1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                      The hounds around here who do actually 'get it', lucky, agree, in the vast majority, with the opinion well put by maxnix that the food was much better than the stupid prices, spotty service, etc. Have you actually eaten there many times or ever, what did you have, what was wrong with it, let us know? I have, and know well what I'm talking about. I don't give a rat's tail about Gordon, I'm sure he sous vides with the best of 'em. but I love great food. Many of el greco's dishes shined pretty consistently well above the median fray in this greek food vacuum of a town and now are gone because of him (and of course their poor business model that attracted them to his money in the first place). You're right, they're fading for their own stupid mistakes. And bringing in Ramsay was one of them. It's odd some of the ramsay love around this thread from folks who've posted on CH only once or twice???

                                                      1. re: slowcoooked

                                                        Slowcooked, you're proving what I said about you. You have an emotional connection to EL Greco, have an axe to grind with Ramsay, or both. You keep saying GR ruined their outstanding dishes. News flash.....from what I have observed, Kitchen Nightmares rarely (if ever) visits a restaurant where the food "shined pretty consistently ".

                                                        BTW, I have eaten there once when I went with a friend and it was good (I had the gyro). For the price I paid though, not THAT good. Obviously, I was not alone in thinking that, otherwise the business would not have been struggling.

                                                        1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                          slowcooked has posted many times on the board involving many subjects. Believe me, he is not obsessed with Ramsay, nor does he have an axe to grind. Maybe he doesn't like the way the man operates, but that's why this is a chatroom - so people can give their opinions.

                                                            1. re: rudeboy

                                                              Agreed. Here's my two cents: All I ever heard about EG before was that the food was fine, but outrageously overpriced. Here's the thing; if you're going to house that close to campus, you must-must-must be a "bargain". Your audience does not have a sophisticated palate and hardly have to cents to rub together. With Milto's gyros only a block away and at a third of the price, guess who's winning. It is what it is.

                                                              1. re: amysuehere

                                                                I tend to agree with you, Amy.

                                                                After reading what you said, I can't help but wonder what the difference would have been, if EG was located a little closer to the Hyde Park neighborhood.

                                                                Still, you never know.

                                                                1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                                  I'd bet if it were up near me (360/2222) it would have been a huge success. location, location, location...

                                                                  1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                                    I dunno, Texas French Bread and Fino do okay with fairly "sophisticated" $15 - $20 entrees, and they're both a block or two closer to campus. But being stuck behind Manga probably didn't help. I'm sure in the successful restaurant owner's guide there's something about not making your place look like the back entrance to the pizza joint next door.

                                                                    1. re: ghastlyfop

                                                                      Something I have considered amid all this talk is the success of Hopdoddy Burger Bar on SoCo.

                                                                      The also are on Prime real estate, and you will pay more there for a burger than you would at Frans, Top-Notch, and other local favorite burger joints. However, the average cost of a burger there is somewhere around $9(excluding fries and a drink). For a really good gourmet burger, I don't mind dropping that kind of cash. However if they were to raise the prices of the burger to $15 or more, I would have a real problem with going back again. I mean, for $15, I can practically go out for steak at that price.

                                                                      So on that point, I do agree with you slowcooked. If they really were indeed turning out consistantly good food, they probably would have been better off getting accounting help. Sounds more like a financial nightmare and a Kitchen one then.

                                                                      Also, they may have been better off starting with a food trailer, building a name for themselves, then going brick and mortar. That currently seems to be a winning plan in ATX.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Hopdoddy Burger Bar
                                                                      1400 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

                                                                      1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                                        Tailer to brick and mortar does sound like a winning concept in Austin. That could be a whole thread on its own.

                                                                        1. re: rudeboy

                                                                          I know this is off on another tangent from this thread, but I tend to agree with you. Over the last 4-5 years the talk among my friends has really switched to the latest food trailer to open up, rather than the latest restaurant. If I were looking to open my own place, I'd be ripping the pages out of Bryce Gilmore's playbook.

                                                                          1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                                            Agreed. Put that El Greco lamb in a trailer and serve a loaded gyro up for 6 bucks somewhere near campus and they'd be lined up, or on 620 in round rock near all those medi businesses (a gold mine waiting to happen).

                                                                            I wonder about the utility of printing this entire thread and handing it to the folks over at Greco. maybe useless, maybe not.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            El Greco
                                                                            3016 Guadalupe, Austin, TX

                                              2. Just saw the Kitchen Nightmare episode and your review is totally inaccurate. GR gave the restaurant an excellent Greek menu. Jake's incompetence and cutting corners is what drove the customers away! Before GR ,Jake was microwaving everything. So you like microwaved Greek food?

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: LCromwell

                                                  No, you are wrong. In the beginning, everything was cooked to order. I never saw Jake there, only an older man who cooked and some ofthe people on the program. I missed the Chef Mic era.

                                                  I think the $800K sunk into the business was too much to over come. Someone needed to kick Jakes' butt the first time he showed up late.

                                                  1. re: LCromwell

                                                    The episode represented exactly my experience at El Greco.

                                                    1. re: LCromwell

                                                      I saw this episode the other night, too. After reading the thread a couple of things come to mind.
                                                      First, if the food was SO great as to overshine the spotty service, high prices and clear dysfunction in management, GR wouldn't have been asked in. Reheated cuisine clearly wasn't acceptable to the majority of diners in town or else the restaurant would be succeeding. Tons of dysfunctional restaurants succeed if the food is so darn great and the prices so reflective of great value for money that such problems are overlooked.
                                                      Second, if this was only an issue of business, the owner would have called in a business manager/accountant, not GR. What GR brings to the table has never been a secret. This is season 3 of KN and he's had his British version for years. If you request his help, you're going to get a decor makeover, new menu and a ton of drama exposed.
                                                      Third, the VAST majority of restaurants fail, something on the order of 90 percent.
                                                      SO, it seems to me that given the gravity of the situation, GR was called in to do CPR on an establishment that was failing for a whole bunch of reasons. And the fact that the restaurant ultimately failed is really of no surprise. GR probably gave them the best shot of resurrecting the establishment.
                                                      Personally, I think the issues of management drama/conflict continued after GR showed up. This, plus "being too far in the hole" was why the restaurant failed. If you can get your poop together, make great food and improve service both at the front end and kitchen end of your establishment, you're going to make it. I think the owners' relationship tainted the entire place and the only way this restaurant could have been saved is if Athena kicked her son to the curb for the sake of the restaurant. Clearly she didn't/couldn't do this, and they both went down with the ship.
                                                      I think, given what I've seen of the owners relationship, this restaurant was doomed from the start.

                                                      1. re: freia

                                                        "I think, given what I've seen of the owners relationship, this restaurant was doomed from the start."

                                                        Tha's where you din't pay much attention to the show. The first 8 months were terrific until Jake went into the tank. The food was quite good, initially. The Chef Mic era doomed them. When they stopped using the stove to cook orders, a big thermonuclear bomb should have gone off.

                                                        1. re: maxnix

                                                          Key words...when Jake went into the tank. The resulting relationship issues were the problem. I don't think it resolved with getting rid of Chef Mic. Chef Mic was emblematic of the relationship problem. Jake insisted Chef Mic be used, Athena didn't believe in that type of cooking. That's when the thermonuclear bomb went off. Athena wasn't able to sort out Jake. GR sorted out Chef Mic but not the underlying control/relationship issues between Jake and Athena. These issues tainted the restaurant as seen in the interviews with the staff and the ensuing loss of key staff after GR left.
                                                          You really did prove my point! Thanks!

                                                          1. re: freia

                                                            You have a weak concept of proof.

                                                            Chef Jake was never there when I ate. The guys that took over after he left or failed to show were quite adequate and not using Chef Mic.

                                                            Read the post to which you are attempting to respond first!

                                                            1. re: maxnix

                                                              Um...didn't my quote of your post indicate to you that I read your post? I dont' think there's any harm in having a different opinion to yours. And again, if Chef Jake couldn't be bothered to show up, that also indicates a lack of dedication and/or responsibility to the kitchen, which is something that Athena mentioned. He was never there. BUT Chef Mic was clearly in use when he was. And the chefs on the show hated using Chef Mic, meaning to me that it was more IN use than out of use. I still think this was a relationship problem that destroyed the restaurant. It sure wasn't Chef Ramsay...

                                                    2. Authentic Greek food? The author of this article is either willfully ignorant or has a terrible palate. Chef Jake and his beloved Chef Mic (the microwave) killed El Greco not Chef Ramsay. I suppose the author of this diatribe against Chef Ramsay fancies their palate to be superior to his - a multi-Michelin star world class chef who truly knows food. The author obviously ate at El Greco before and saw nothing wrong with the food, that alone makes their judgement suspect. The reason so many of these restaurants fail, even after Chef Ramsay has tried to help them, is because they have fundamental problems (lack of passion, no standards, overwhelming financial debt) which even a makeover can't cure. I've read of several restaurants which went back to their old failing menu and sloppy cooking so it's not Chef Ramsay's fault if they do fail. They asked him for help, Chef Ramsay is not a miracle worker, he can only do so much. And in the case of El Greco the head chef was in total denial, could not even be civil to his own mother, had no standards, lost all passion and thought his disgusting food was exceptional!

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: netrek

                                                        GR certainly couldn't help out an $800K indebtedness, which is maybe why the remodel budget was limited to $200. I am sure GR has launched restaraunts earlier in his career for much less. I am sure he was saying, "Eff me! This one has already sunk."

                                                        1. re: maxnix

                                                          is it normal to spend 800k on a restaurant? I mean that place was pretty small and didn't have a ton of equipment. Did they buy the building as well? A nice buildout is about $90/sq ft and that place was way less then 3k sq ft and the buildout was pretty bad...

                                                        2. re: netrek

                                                          I'm gonna try and be objective about this as much as I can. Kitchen Nightmares is a television show that's main goal is to package and produce a winning product. This is one of three (?) shows that Ramsay currently does with Fox and, since it's in it's 3rd season, people are watching it. To make the show a success, I have no doubt some of the drama that goes on has been "sexed up" somewhat because agreeable, cooperative, open-minded people don't make for interesting television.

                                                          With that in mind.......regardless of what has been sexed-up and over produced, there were some undeniable truths from what I saw. Some of what happened in the episode can't be manufactured by Hollywood without opening up libelous lawsuits. If anything was manufactured, then the folks at EL Greco would have had to sign off on it as well. (Which is not unthinkable to believe, if the carrot of being on national televisionwere waved in front of them.)

                                                          In summary, to say Gordon Ramsay ruined EL Greco is still inaccurate. Obviously, EL Greco was already in dire trouble of folding before hand. So although Ramsey couldn't save it, doesn't mean that he ruined it either.

                                                          1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                            I agree with you Lucky Skunk. This is the second restaurant I have seen with Chef mic putting out the food. No one liked the food in that KN show either.

                                                        3. Bumping this only to say Good Riddance Gordon Ramsey !!! Thanks for nothing.

                                                          http://greatideas.people.com/2014/06/...

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: slowcoooked

                                                            He's a World class chef, not a frickin' miracle worker. Ramsay gave the idiot the tools to stay in business and he pissed it away.

                                                            Don't hate Ramsay because Chef Mic was the head chef in EL Turdo.

                                                             
                                                            1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                              The UK version is way better than the US version. The guys in the US seem far more arrogant and less willing to listen and make changes.

                                                              1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                                                                I don't even know who this "chef mic" is? But at any rate, good to hear from you again on this Lucky Skunk. You took the bait :-).

                                                                And there still isn't any greek food anywhere close to as good in Austin as that was.....but a few folks are making some passable efforts. Santorini and Gyro Greek Cafe can throw down hot Kronos at least, as can Milto's. But their hummus while edible isn't close to Greco's old stuff. And no one has grilled lamb souvlaki chunks like those melty Greco morsels. You have recommendations, since nothing in Austin is particularly "Ramsay Love" relevant anyway?

                                                                1. re: slowcoooked

                                                                  Chef Mic was the microwave which almost all dishes were touched by. Real problem with cooking in microwave VS reheating.

                                                            2. he didn't watch that episode the food was shitty

                                                              1. It is really hard to figure out why a restaurant fails. It is like having a blind person tell you what an elephant looks like from one touch. And then the problems morph as the owner tries to adjust, incompetently, so what was the basic problem?
                                                                But I think that you are right, slowcooked. A restaurant is in the happiness business, not the food business. You can't make enough people happy with high prices and small portions serving Greek food (especially in Texas?) and it doesn't matter how good the food is. You can, at least for a while, in a chi-chi yup- yup place, in certain locales, if the owner is enough of a marketer and he gets lucky. And the food needs not be more than passable (figuratively) as long as long as potz-yu is featured on the menu.

                                                                Tell me, ya'll ( sp? y'all ? I used to live in OKC and the may talk different there), especially you, slowcooked, how much salt did
                                                                El Geco use? Was it really authentic? Just right isn't an answer.