Two years ago chef and restaurateur Ken Pisciotta became to proud owner of the River Rock Inn in Milford, Pennsylvania. But soon after Ken got his hands on the keys, his dream turned into a nightmare. The guests are far from impressed with the accommodations - or lack thereof. The peeling wallpaper, exposed electrical outlets and absence of simple amenities such as soap and shampoo leave them wanting for much more.
At 48 Ken is single, living at the inn and drowning in hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. The more the business fails, the more controlling he becomes. His staff is miserable. Head Chef Seth Van Benschoten remarks that everyone walks on eggshells around Ken.
When Gordon Ramsay arrives, no one greets him at the front door. After he pokes around a bit, Assistant Innkeeper Karen Loeschorn finally comes to say hello. She takes him upstairs to his room. When she tells him the hotel was built in the 1880s, Gordon asks if it was decorated in the same era as well.
In his room, Gordon unearths a slew of dead bugs, and a cockroach welcoming committee greets him in the bathroom. Back out in the hall, he finds a random chair propped in the corner. Karen tells him it's the Wi-Fi hot spot for the building.
Before going downstairs to check out the restaurant, Gordon tries to take his mind off things by watching some TV but finds there's no reception. Frustrated, he goes to the dining room to meet Ken, who explains that he runs a classic American bistro with food made from scratch.
Gordon thinks the bistro concept is perfect for the establishment's surroundings, but when he peruses the menu he finds Italian, Mexican and Thai dishes listed. Headwaiter James Sanfilippo recommends the frozen trout from Northern California.
Seth claims the menu is Ken's, and while he doesn't agree with it, he has no control over what he serves. Bar Manager Annmarie Rossitto informs Gordon that Ken micromanages and deflates his employees, stripping their confidence.
After assessing the situation, Gordon gathers Ken and his staff together. The owner admits to losing $7,000 per month. Annmarie says Ken needs to open his eyes and realize that they are all there to help him. Gordon informs Ken that he is not the captain of the Titanic; he's the iceberg.
Gordon retreats to his filthy room, but before lying down, he turns on the black light to see what the previous guests have left behind. His inspection reveals a vast spread of stains on all the linens. He pulls out his sleeping bag and turns in.
The next day, Gordon assembles the current guests, who complain to the staff about the cold water, bugs on the floor and uncomfortable mattresses. They all say they never plan to return. Gordon then shows Ken and Karen his black-light discovery and reminds Ken that he's running a hotel, not a brothel, and he needs to start taking responsibility for his establishment.
While the staff starts cleaning the inn from top to bottom, Gordon snoops around for clues about Ken's managing style. He finds notes everywhere from boss to employee with messages such as "If you eat these cookies, take one to your next job interview" and "Don't take my pens - buy your own."
Gordon gathers the employees and asks them about Ken's notes, which they call "nastygrams." They feel Ken is passive-aggressive and demeaning. When their boss joins them and reveals he was watching their conversation from another room, he apologizes for his behavior and promises to relinquish some of his controlling ways.
While Gordon senses that Ken is willing to change, he stills wants to get to the source of his control issues. Ken admits that he borrowed money from his brother and mother to start the business. Ken also acknowledges that he has no girlfriend, and Gordon comments that the place could use a female touch.
Gordon invites Ramesh Sadhwani, the Vice President of Hotel Operations at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, to show them the true meaning of hospitality. Ramesh gives a lesson in how to greet customers and make the best first impression. Karen excels at the customer service challenge, and Ken realizes he needs to let her run the show.
Next, Gordon brings in a stylist to boost Ken's personal confidence. While Barbie gets to work on transforming the innkeeper, Gordon checks out their Web site to see if that also needs a makeover. But even in the special chair, he can't get an Internet signal. When he does finally get online, he discovers an outdated, unusable site.
Gordon takes a transformed Ken out on the town, hoping that meeting the right girl will give him a lift. They run into some locals who vow to bring their single friend to the hotel's relaunch party the next evening.
Gordon's team works through the night to transform the inn. The rooms have been revamped, the TVs have been replaced, and the mattresses and linens are brand-new. He has also updated the Web site and Internet router so all of the rooms have Wi-Fi.
The guests begin to arrive, including Ken's mom and brother, who are pleased with the changes. With Ken trusting his staff and not micromanaging, he has more time to spend on the floor, chatting with customers - among them, the ladies he met the night before, who have brought along their single friend.
Gordon feels his work is done and prepares to leave the River Rock Inn, knowing it's in much better shape than he found it. But before he goes, Gordon hands Ken the phone number of his new lady friend.