On this episode of "Kitchen Nightmares," Gordon stops by Montclair, New Jersey, to help the owners of the Italian eatery Leone's. Rose began the family-run business in 1996 and said that back then people would wait in line to come in.
But three years ago she fell into a coma after a routine kidney stone operation, and her son Michael stepped in as boss. And because of his is lack of effort and laziness, he drove the place into the ground. Trudy, the head server, picks up the slack by doing all the managerial work. Customers are unhappy with the food, and business is very slow.
When Rose returns after two years in the hospital to witness the state of Leone's, she professes, "I almost had a heart attack . . . They destroyed everything I worked for." She hopes that Chef Ramsay can come in and straighten out her son and the restaurant.
When Gordon arrives, he is shocked that the first thing he sees is Michael watching TV in the reception area. Next, Gordon comments on the artwork decorating the walls. The creepy baby paintings and mismatched portraiture do not sit well with the chef.
Rose greets Gordon and describes what she thinks is wrong with the restaurant: "everything." He brings out the whole staff to get their opinions on the problems at hand. Trudy explains that the major issue is lack of management, but Michael quickly disagrees and blames the décor.
When Michael admits to Gordon that he works only five hours a day, six days a week and is sitting for most of his shift, the chef remarks, "Holy crap!" Both Trudy and Gordon question whether Michael has the passion needed to make the business successful.
The chef is even more shocked to discover that the overhead for the restaurant is $12,000 per week, but they are taking in only $8,000. Rose says that they are drowning from the $4,000-a week loss.
While Gordon has a look around the place, the kitchen prepares a sampling of every item they serve for him to taste. He returns to a dining room full of food, because there are more than 100 items on the menu. Gordon finds many dishes are unappealing visually and unidentifiable. He critiques all of the food as either lacking flavor or too loaded with garlic.
When he calls the chefs out to taste their own creations, the overwhelming verdict is that none of them think what they cook is good. Gordon declares, "When a chef doesn't like his own food, how the f*#k do you expect the customer to?" He leaves the restaurant in disgust.
He returns that night to observe dinner service and asks the staff to run the place as normal so that he can watch them in action. While diners complain about the quality of the food, Gordon is amazed by the chefs' lack of technique and the unsanitary kitchen.
As he starts looking into the freezer he discovers rotten food and uncovered meat. His verdict: "This restaurant is being run like a pig sty." Because of the dangerous conditions in the kitchen, he shuts Leone's down. The staff retreats to the kitchen for a floor-to-ceiling cleaning as they question if Michael is capable of stepping up.
To change everyone's perspective, the next day Gordon takes them to a nearby art gallery. They look at an exhibit featuring photographs of inviting Italian food and learn that the dishes are being prepared by their competition a few blocks away. When they compare these images to the pictures of their own food, they are embarrassed and inspired to turn Leone's around.
Next, Gordon gives Michael a crash course in cooking and management. When the staff samples the fruits of their labor they are impressed. Now that Gordon has more confidence in Michael, he puts his team to work transforming the restaurant over night. By morning the sleepy and dated-looking restaurant has become a modern Italian bistro.
Gordon greets the staff and takes them inside the new Leone's. He gives them a state-of-the-art point of sale system, which features a photograph of every dish. It can be taken to the table where orders can be placed on the wireless, high-tech device. He has also replaced their 100 outdated dishes with 45 modern Italian ones. He reviews the new items with the staff, who are pleased with the revamped offerings.
Gordon is encouraged by Michael's new attitude at the re-launch and expects him to take control of his new restaurant. The excited owner is off to a good start, sending out high-quality dishes, and the diners are pleased with the results.
But in an attempt to get orders filled quickly, Michael loses control of the kitchen and sends food to a table that has already been served. He starts to unravel, and Rose says, "Chef Ramsay needs to kick Michael in the ass."
However Michael doesn't allow himself to get flustered and manages to rally back from the mistake. Food again flows to the dining room at a steady pace.
Gordon assures Rose that her son is now good enough to take over, but he cautions Michael to "stay the course." Otherwise, he warns, they will slip back to where they were. Michael is filled with confidence and tells his mom that she's in good hands.
Gordon is off to the next kitchen disaster site, but before he leaves he says, "Michael found his voice and finally he's speaking, not just for himself, but for his mother." Leone's is once again a popular spot in Montclair.
Episodes appear online 1 day after airdate. Learn more
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