Kitchen Nightmares Episode Recaps

Greek At The Harbor

Greek At The Harbor

Aired: 11/18/11

On this episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits The Greek at the Harbor in Ventura, California. Makis Mikelatos and his wife, Lynn, opened the establishment in 1994 on the Ventura Harbor. Lynn claims that the place was busy from day one, and their son and restaurant manager, Aris, says that the kitchen always ran very smoothly.

But Aris notes that as time went on, his father's standards dropped; he thinks that his dad has burned out after working 17 years without a single day off. Business has dropped dramatically, and the bank account is drained dry. Aris wants to step up and take on more responsibility, but Makis won't accept his son's offer. He relegates Aris to the roles of manager and dancer/entertainer.

Chef Ramsay arrives in Ventura, calling it a "small slice of the Mediterranean." When he sits with the whole family to hear their story, Makis admits that the restaurant has not turned a profit for the last several years. He also divulges that he does not intend to groom Aris to take over, but he won't reveal why.

Chef Ramsay then places an order for calamari, sampler platters, and moussaka to get a taste of what the restaurant has to offer. While waiting for the food, he takes in the hideous décor, spotting two disco balls in the corner of the eatery.

When the dishes arrive, he uses such terms as "drab," "dreadful," and "disgusting" to describe it. He comments, "Taste of Greece . . . yeah, Grease-y." He calls all the cooks out of the kitchen and declares, "That was an embarrassment to Greece."

The chefs acknowledge that they agree with Chef Ramsay's criticisms, but they say that their hands are tied: they're simply following Makis' orders.

That night as the customers arrive for dinner service, Chef Ramsay starts his kitchen investigation. He's shocked to learn that the food is pre-made, cafeteria-style, and then reheated as orders come in.

With so much of the food prepared in advance, the kitchen has no problem sending dishes out at a rapid pace. When Aris repeatedly comes back to check on the service, Makis barks at him to get out. The son is noticeably frustrated and, once again, is sent to entertain the crowd with some dancing.

In the meantime, the diners are sending back tray after tray of meals to the kitchen. An hour and a half into dinner service, none of the customers have been pleased with the food, and Makis appears to be giving up. Chef Ramsay takes him outside and pleads with him to be more honest. He also demands to know why he is so closed off from his son, but Makis does not provide an answer.

The next day, Chef Ramsay, still mystified by Makis' lack of mentoring Aris, goes to Lynn to find out the reason. She finally divulges that she and Makis hosted a college graduation party at the eatery for their son. In front of all his friends, Aris announced that he would never work in the restaurant but instead promised to make something of himself.

An insulted Makis has never forgiven his son for the words that made him feel worthless. And despite Aris' change of heart and decision to join the family business, this statement has never been discussed, and the father's bitter feelings have been festering.

After finally learning the truth, Chef Ramsay meets with Aris and Makis. When he becomes aware of the ramifications of the announcement, a tearful Aris apologizes to his parents. They now accept that he is committed to making the restaurant work.

After clearing the air, Chef Ramsay literally handcuffs the pair together and demands that Makis teach his son something in the kitchen. They bring Chef Ramsay the Greek pasta, which they prepared together, and the chef says that it's the best thing he's had in the restaurant so far.

Now that Makis has agreed to pass the torch to Aris, Chef Ramsay brings in his crew for a makeover. The disco balls are replaced with Greek windmills, the tablecloths are removed to expose beautiful wooden tables, and the windows are adorned with custom-made Greek flag shutters.

To go along with the dramatic décor makeover is an equally dramatic menu redesign. The staff is excited by the changes. That night at dinner service the reins of the restaurant are handed over from father to son, and Aris starts to expedite in the kitchen.

Word of the relaunch has spread, and the dining room is packed with eager customers. Aris is off to a good start and looks very comfortable at the helm. A steady stream of orders flow out of the kitchen, and the diners are pleased with the new menu.

But when Chef Ramsay sees subpar food getting through to the tables, the kitchen begins to unravel. After being reprimanded by the chef, the staff takes a breath and picks up the pace again. A very determined Aris has his focus back, catching mistakes and quickly getting them fixed. Chef Ramsay remarks, "I have never seen anyone take to expediting the way you did tonight."

Before departing from The Greek, Chef Ramsay leaves the family with some words of advice: "Stay together as a family, because when it works it's beautiful."

In the following weeks, Aris continues to embrace his role as leader of the kitchen and is determined to maintain the high standards that Chef Ramsay has set. The restaurant is full, and the kitchen is working so smoothly now that Makis is considering retiring and handing the reins to his son for good.

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