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Kitchen Nightmare Over- Not so successful

http://www.grubstreet.com/2014/06/gor...

Apparently, the survival rate was less than stellar. I'd like to see the success rate of his British series as well as those of Restaurant Impossible.

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  1. The story on the survival rate does not compare it to the average failure rate We have no idea if Kitchen Nightmare did any better or worse than restaurants that were already in trouble and did experience Gorden Ramsey;s wrath.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cwdonald

      From the cup-half-full perspective he saved 40% of the restaurants. Realistically you have to be pretty desperate to have your restaurant portrayed as poorly run and near-death in the first instance. These were not thriving spots seeking a little PR bump.

      1. I would say Ramsay was quite successful. By the time he got to these restaurants, they already had one foot in the grave. Most of them were at least several hundred thousands of dollars in the red. The fact that 40% of them are open now is somewhat amazing.

        1. I agree with the posters that he was actually pretty successful considering the shape most of those restaurants were in. Additionally, for both this show, and restaurant impossible (you can see survival rates for that show at foodnetworkgossip.com) there are many owners who got the makeover... then didn't actually close, just used the publicity and renovation to sell the operation.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Firegoat

            I've always wondered about the renovation. Did Kitchen Nightmares have a budget included for that, or did they make the owner pay for it?

            1. re: Firegoat

              Given that a number of the renovations included major kitchen replacements of equipment or professional cleaning (not to mention what things like a fresh coat of paint and style can do for resale), if I were a struggling "non-nightmare", it's almost be worth a gamble to "nightmare up" to get the publicity and renovation.

              1. re: cresyd

                I was under the impression (may or may not be correct) that Kitchen Nightmares spent more on renovations than the $10k budget constraint on Restaurant Impossible. I have no idea what the budget is on Bar Rescue, but have seen them put in whole new kitchen ventilation systems, equipment, new bars, new POS, new sounds sytems, etc.

                1. re: Firegoat

                  I agree. based on the work and new equipment that we see on KN, I've always estimated that their budget was around $10-15,000. They simply don't advertise it as a "budget".

                  Unlike the original British series in which they had nothing. What the restaurant had is all they had to work with.

                  1. re: Firegoat

                    No clue on the budget difference - but I'm sure for some of those places, just putting 10-15k into professional cleaning, new paint and some replacement equipment would be hugely helpful just from a resale standpoint. Not to mention being able to say "this restaurant was just on KN or RI - and so the space and name has increased visibility".

                    While Restaurant Impossible talks about having a 'budget' - that clearly doesn't account for labor. The buckets of paint may cost X in that 10k budget, but for a restaurant to repaint, the owners are doing it themselves, paying their staff to do it or paying professionals to do it. I've also seen them find "deals" on slightly used kitchen equipment when they need to replace potentially pricier items, and who knows how that happens.

                    However they appear on screen, I'm sure a number of the owners on this show are a lot savvier than the show makes them appear and whether or not the restaurant survives, I assume the owners definitely benefit. For all the reality shows outted as being unsavory for participants - I've not heard an owner from either KN or RI saying "I was duped into being awful on tv and this show has ruined my life".

                    1. re: cresyd

                      There are a couple of restauranteurs out there that have complained.
                      This one immediately came to mind.
                      http://eater.com/archives/2013/03/21/...

                    2. re: Firegoat

                      A dependable distant relation who is in the food TV production business told me that the manufacturers of the new equipment donate the equipment after first agreeing on how much publicity they get on the show. Also of course they can 'right off' the 'gift' in their advertising budget.
                      Win win.

                2. I'm with the majority of posts thus far, I think 40% is a pretty good success rate considering the shape most of these places are in by the time he get's there. I would say at least 25%-30% of the owners on the show have absolutely no business being in the restaurant business to begin with, if you were to discount them the 40% number is over half of the participants. I think that is a pretty impressive rate.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    It is reality TV and I do not believe any of it.

                    1. re: genoO

                      I don't think they are faking the filthy kitchens and walk-ins. I am quite sure the customers sending plates back to the kitchen en masse is the work of the producers.

                    2. re: jrvedivici

                      Given the disfunctionality of so many of the owners, their staffs and families, I find it hard to believe that all it took to straighten them up was RI or GR coming in for two or three days and saying "stop it!"

                      1. re: chicgail

                        I think with many of the restaurants, simply improving the food can be the difference. Not all of them are dysfunctional to the point they cannot be successful.

                        1. re: John E.

                          There was a Kitchen Nightmare on recently (probably a repeat I don't know the original air date) for a restaurant named La Frite. The family owned the restaurant 35 years!! Yet after all that time they were unable to realize how worn down they restaurant appeared and how lousy their food was?

                          I watched the episode and just scratched my head, how the father who started the restaurant could be so blind to his children running it into the ground. I guess at some point you mentally "check out" and it takes someone like Ramsey to smack you back into reality.

                          1. re: jrvedivici

                            La Frite is around the corner from where I live and I've been going there for most of its 35 years in existence. A lot of the details in that episode don't mesh with our experience. For instance, the daughter was portrayed as someone who only recently came to work at the restaurant, but we've seen her there for decades. So a lot of the family drama seemed overblown.

                            Moreover, La Frite was a reliable neighborhood restaurant -- not phenomenal but it was not nearly as terrible food-wise as the show portrayed. It has always done a good brunch service on weekends and has generally been reasonably busy during evenings. Ramsay's retooling of the menu raised prices, which I think hurt it in the short-term. He also eliminated many of the best dishes on the menu, which were later restored in the backlash over the menu changes.

                            I'm not sure it was in the same dire financial straits as many of the other restaurants featured on the show were. If I recall correctly, the episode dealt mostly with the food quality and the family conflict, not with financial problems. Honestly, the main issue with the restaurant was its tired decor, though I'm not a huge fan of the show's choices for the remodel.

                            1. re: Jwsel

                              In your opinion, why did they need to call Chef Ramsey? Something must have been terribly wrong.

                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                I seem to recall some posts online after the show aired reporting that the owners said they were recruited by the show, but I can't recall where I read those.

                                To be honest, I'm not sure they needed to be on the show. I think they figured they would get a makeover and a new Ramsey-inspired menu that would provide some buzz, and the downside would be that Ramsey would pooh pooh their non-French menu (it had burgers, I mean "chopped steaks" on it) and they would play up some family drama for the cameras. It does seem to have worked out for La Frites, as it is one of the KN "success" stories since it is still in business when most of the restaurants on the show have long since closed.

                    3. If anything KN may be closing because it's too successful. How many copycat shows are out there now to compete with?

                      1. At first I thought it was a decent statistic, until I thought about the time factor. It looks like the older the season, the more are closed...

                        1. Reality TV at its worst. In real life we would have seen Gordon stabbed by an insulted, red faced owner once a month.

                          1. yet, I feel the need to point out to others, this is NoT a cooking show, it (and most of the others) are a failing small business show. the food is secondary.