In Bellmore, a suburb thirty minutes from New York City, The Mixing Bowl eatery has operated for ten years. However, it may soon be time to close up shop. Owner and chef Billy is doing everything including mopping the floors. Lisa, his wife and co-owner, has given up hope that the business will ever rebound. The waitresses don't like Mike the manager, who spends all his time schmoozing customers or eating -- but not managing. The lack of customers has made the entire staff depressed. And Lisa is worried that their financial woes may even be hurting her marriage.
Gordon arrives at the restaurant. "I'm nervous," he says. "Because this looks dreadful." It's 1:15pm, and there's not one customer for lunch. Mike explains the menu, and Gordon thinks it sounds like a health food place even though the dishes don't reflect that. Gordon can tell by the ambiance and decor that The Mixing Bowl is on its last legs.
Overwhelmed by the huge menu, Gordon orders the "award-winning" Maryland crab cakes. Even though he's the manager, Mike has no idea what award they won. Gordon also orders zucchini pancakes and salmon. While Gordon eats, Mike stands there staring at him. Gordon is surprised that the crab cakes are so fresh for such a dreary place, but the zucchini pancakes are like having a "mouthful of glue." Gordon smells garlic on the salmon dish but Mike assures him there is no garlic. One check with Billy proves that there is garlic doused in the dish. After lunch, Gordon tells Billy that the crab cakes were the only high point of the meal.
That night, Gordon observes the dinner service. There are only a few tables filled. Yet he is stunned to see customers using a 50%-off coupon that The Mixing Bowl has been handing out for the past eight years. No wonder they are losing money. Mike confesses that he has a bunch of signs made up for holiday specials to entice customers. All of those ideas have bombed. Gordon is appalled by one huge, orange sign offering a free appetizer.
Later after close, Gordon confronts the owners. Billy cannot leave the managing to Mike. He wonders whether Lisa is right about shutting it all down. She admits to wanting a normal life, but Billy is committed to turning the business around. Gordon challenges him to find his passion in food.
The next day, Gordon brings a wood chipper to The Mixing Bowl. He puts all of Mike's promotional signs in to be destroyed. Then he brings out a map of the area, pointing out that there were only four restaurants in 1997. Ten years later, there are now 41 restaurants. He suggests they reposition The Mixing Bowl to compete. The only style of food missing in Bellmore is a healthy restaurant. "Give the f***ing neighborhood what they want!" Gordon exclaims.
Gordon goes with Billy into the kitchen to rethink the food. He lays out 15 ingredients and dares Billy to come up with a healthy but tasty dish. Gordon does the same at the next station. Kim the waitress notes that she hasn't seen Billy that fired up in ages. Billy presents a seared salmon plate. Gordon has concocted a poached salmon topped with a walnut pesto. Gordon deems both dishes worthy enough to go on that night's menu. Lisa is still unsure whether he can revamp the whole restaurant.
At dinner service, the place starts to fill because word got around town that Chef Ramsay was there. Gordon urges Mike and the wait staff to push the salmon specials. Yet Mike spends no time in the kitchen because he's focused only on chatting up the customers. Gordon feels he's using the restaurant to feed his ego.
After service is completed, Gordon regroups with the staff. The waitresses vocalize their frustration with Mike taking half of their tips. Mike defends his practice because he befriends the customers. Gordon accuses him of acting like he owns the place, and then he accuses Billy of being too weak to stop him. Billy finally says something to Mike about doing his job.
Gordon's design team works through the night to transform the dining room into a contemporary, sleek establishment. When the staff sees the new décor, Mike cries and hugs Gordon. Kim comments that she feels better about where she works. Mike doesn't stop sobbing. Lisa feels hopeful for the first time.
Gordon shows off the new dishes he has created. He removed all heavily-sauced entrees and replaced them with healthy, vibrant items. Then the staff goes out into the neighborhood to spread the word. They target gyms and salons in town. Gordon sets up a meeting with the New York Dragons arena football team, and he invites the players to dinner.
The fourth day is the launch day. Although everyone is nervous, Mike starts to fold under pressure. The restaurant is fully reserved, but Mike has mistakenly overbooked for the 7:00 seating. Mike tries to blame Kim for the reservation mix-up. Lynn, Kim and Lisa step up to manage all the customers. The kitchen starts to lag behind. Gordon chides Mike for not managing the kitchen and floor. He is looking after his own family instead.
After weathering the first storm, the New York Dragons arrive two hours later. Lisa realizes that Mike never put down the Dragons' reservation into the books and there is no table available. Mike tries to wiggle out of the blame by saying that he was never told that they were coming. He screams at Lisa in the middle of the dining room. Gordon orders him to go outside. He tells Billy and Lisa that Mike is the biggest problem with the business. They need a real manager. Billy decides to give Mike a second chance. Gordon asks Mike to change his behavior. Mike figures out how to seat the football team. Then, for the first time, Mike thanks Lynn for her help.
As the week progresses, Mike improves his management skills. The customers are pleased with the new menu. Profits start to rise. In the spirit of the new healthy food, Gordon sponsors the "First Annual Mixing Bowl Mile" fun run. With the restaurant now thriving, Billy finds time to hang out with the Dragons. Gordon even gets Billy to leave the kitchen and greet his adoring customers.
Two months later, The Mixing Bowl continues to do well. Mike is improving, and Billy and Lisa's marriage strengthens.
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