Kitchen Nightmares was well known for taking horrifically run kitchens and whipping them into shape, often revising everything from the staff to the menu. Many people belonged on Gordon Ramsay’s show, whether because their food was disgusting or because the restaurant was filthy, and the only thing that could fix it was a visit from the famous chef. Fans tuned in, not only to watch the transformations, but to watch the many times Gordon Ramsay absolutely lost his temper dealing with the people involved. However, it usually ended on a good note, with the restaurant being restored and the business being saved, at least for a while.
The show was a big success, even though Gordon Ramsay got sued for Kitchen Nightmares multiple times during and after the show. It’s not surprising, seeing how they have had only a 21% success rate in permanently helping restaurants turn around. It is hard for some to ignore the hot-headed chef’s rants and swearing, and some couldn’t take the heat. There were several restaurants, however, that worked with Gordon to transform their hapless businesses to incredible eateries, often receiving new equipment, fresh decor, and a revitalized menu. Here are ten of the best transformations to ever happen on the show, whether it was a menu change or a huge seating area remodel.
10 Flamango’s/The Junction
New Jersey’s Flamangos was in big trouble. From tyrannical owner Adele to the horrific tropical decor, the restaurant couldn’t keep the business afloat. The kitchen was worse, with improperly stored and cooked food and a menu that was random and eclectic at best. Everything was redone, from the theme to the cuisine, even the change to calling it The Junction, all resulting in a very unhappy Adele. However, the rebranding was a hit with the staff and customers, and for a time, even Adele seemed happy. However, Adele would eventually sell the restaurant a year later, blaming Ramsey’s changes, even though the restaurant had been successful since.
9 The Olde Stone Mill
The restaurant is a renovated stone mill in Tuckahoe, New York, but while the building was gorgeous, the business’s charm proved to be only in the aesthetics. Gordon was appalled at the way the staff and food was treated, and he knew it was going to be a challenge to get owner Dean to try something new. The renovation of the menu to a standard restaurant to the only steakhouse in the area turned out to be a huge success, transforming it and saving it from ruin. Since then, the restaurant has changed owners and style of food, but is still open today as an Italian restaurant.
Lisa was the young owner of a restaurant she had bought and owned for five years. However, the chefs were lazy, there was endless drama, and the computer systems were over three decades old and dying. Chef Ramsey came in, doing a renovation on the menu, staff, and POS systems. The seating area is also transformed overnight, removing a wall and getting a full makeover. Gordon also rebranded the restaurant as a wine bar, which would reach a new kind of clientele. The transformation proved to be a success, as the restaurant is still open, and Lisa has added other services as well.
7 Ms. Jean’s Southern Cuisine
The sweet, grandmotherly Ms. Jean was a huge favorite from the moment she appeared on the show, so even Gordon was unsure why the Pennsylvania restaurant was failing. That is until he went to investigate, finding a lazy and unorganized kitchen that served much of the food as overcooked and microwaved. Gordon quickly set to work setting up a better work system, simplifying the menu, and even creating double the seating they had before. The restaurant thrived after that, and is still open to this day, though they have moved a few blocks down the road.
The family owned Italian restaurant of Giuseppi’s underwent a huge transformation in every single area, including in the relationships of the family that ran it. Gordon helped repair the familial bonds, renovated the interior of the restaurant, and updated the menu with fresh and delicious dishes. Though they struggled in the relaunch, it looked like the business was going to have a bright future ahead of them. This future never came to be however, as the turn-around in the business came too late and other obstacles got in the way. Between the economy and failure to get a liquor license, the restaurant was forced to close down.
5 Spin A Yarn
Located in beautiful California, this restaurant was beautiful in appearance when Gordon first walked in, as it had been newly renovated. However, the beauty was only decor-deep, as the food was inedible and the kitchen was disgusting and poorly run, partly due to the expansive menu. Ramsey helped to clean everything up, helped the owners decide on making it into a steakhouse, and got the staff organized. This led to the restaurant making a complete turnaround, and they are still open and going strong.
Another New Jersey restaurant, the owner Joseph Cerniglia was close to closing its doors before Gordon arrived. It had quickly declined from a successful restaurant into a ghost town in the short time he had owned it. The staff and owners are all childish and immature, and it reflects on the food and service. Their only saving grace is that the kitchen, surprisingly, is spotlessly clean, although several appliances are broken. Gordon helps to remake the menu and gives the entire restaurant a makeover. This helped to revitalize the business, but several years later, the restaurant was sold, and Joseph tragically took his own life soon after.
Sebastian’s in California seemed like a great location for a restaurant, close to both Universal Studios and Warner Bros. However, it was failing, mostly due to chef and owner Sebastian, who was known for firing people based on his mood swings. The food and aesthetic were also horrendous, so Chef Ramsey had quite the challenge ahead of him. Gordon successfully changed the menu and the decor, giving the restaurant a beautiful transformation. Unfortunately, Sebastian soon returned to his old ways and the old menu, and ended up selling the restaurant less than a year after the episode aired.
The Irish pub in New Jersey was a mess when Gordon was called in to help. Mitch was being blamed for everything going wrong while he hid in his office. The food was awful, the kitchen was disgusting and the family tension between owners was palpable. Gordon brings in a local chef to help train the chefs, makes changes to the menu, and updates the aesthetic, leaving the restaurant completely transformed. The changes didn’t make the restaurant last however, and the building has since been sold and changed owners and styles multiple times over the years.
1 Nino’s Italian Restaurant
Nino’s Italian Restaurant in California was a tragedy, long before Gordon was called in. The youngest son of the original owner, Nino, was driving the restaurant into the ground, taking his siblings with him. The food and decor were dated and the hygiene of the food and the restaurant in general were a huge issue. To make matters worse, Nino and brother Michael fought Gordon every step of the way, resisting every change. Gordon completely redid the menu and interior, bringing it to a more modern and appealing aesthetic. However, the business eventually failed, as Nino changed back the design to the old one to appease regulars instead of embracing the change.
NEXT: ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ Versus ‘Hotel Hell’ – Who Was The Worst Business Owner Gordon Ramsay Ever Had To Deal With?