Watching the Amy's Baking Company episode of Kitchen Nightmares

I’ve never watched this show before. Got some questions.

How do restaurants come to be featured on this show? Do the producers come to them, or do they go to the show? I assume they’re paid, right? Because this does not look like good publicity…

The servers–do they always just openly trash the place on camera? (I mean, clearly these guys on this episode deserve it but I’m very surprised to see the servers being so open with their criticism. Presumably they put their jobs in danger by doing that… which even if they don’t like the job presumably they’d like to have a job…)

Does this show ever actually successfully turn a restaurant around?

I had a bunch of other questions but they’re not coming to mind atm.

ETA Oh here’s one–do we know much about how accurate the show is if read as a documentary? In this particular case for sure the owners seem to have proven to be just as crazy as they are portrayed in the episode, but do we know if that’s always the case?

The typical show goes like this:
Gordon shows up and has lunch, it’s usually bad to ok. He gives feedback to the chef or the owner whoever is most responsible for the restaurant. (ie. An owner who hired his nephew as a chef would be told he needs to hire a real chef) He checks out the cleanliness and storage situation (something ABC got lots of praise for, and additionally, according to one of the waitresses on reddit, that’s normal, not done up for the show) Then he comes back for dinner service and he stands in the kitchen watching the line. And also stepping out front to watch the servers/owners responsibilities. Then after they close he has a chat with everyone about what he saw.
The next day the tv crew has dumped a ton of money into the restaurant upgrading everything in the front-of-house to look more presentable. This is why people go on the show it’s a free renovation. He also changes the menu, making sure it’s in the chef’s skillset. If the chef is in way over his head, occasionally Ramsay will hire a temp-exec chef that he knows or at least has some respect for, to come in and help for a few weeks. I think it’s like a contract gig, where they show up, and help the owners hire an appropriate chef at an appropriate wage. Or maybe train up the nephew.

I like the show, there’s not much yelling like Hell’s Kitchen except when the owners are resistant to his advice. But you have to believe his reputation as a restaurateur so people usually come around. Obviously they still pick people who think their shit don’t stink, and in the case of ABC they found 2 people who are deluded. I would like it if they went back 6 months later to update the audience on the progress. They did a couple shows once where they went back to the same places that still weren’t performing well and Ramsay tries again.

I’m sure I missed a bunch, but that’s typical.

Katy had been fired by the time they did her confessional and Miranda was only there for a few more weeks after.

The show was shot last December so even if Miranda had completely ripped them apart in confessional, given their staff turnover rate, it was highly unlikely she’d still be there by the time it aired.

Fox runs commercials soliciting restaurants for the show.

There are shows similar to Kitchen Nightmares. I’ve never seen KN until this ABC event went viral, but I have seen “Tabatha Takes Over” and “Bar Rescue” which are pretty much the same format. An Expert comes in to a failing business, spots the problems, fixes them and they all live happily ever after.

Business owners can ‘apply’ online for consideration. Usually, though they may not get paid directly in $$, the production company will do some physical rehab to their property and give them modern equipment and fixtures as needed. And, if the owners can put aside their pride and actually do what the expert tells them what they should do, they can make out quite well by not losing money on their business.

Most of these kind of shows have scenes where the employees gripe about the bosses. Ramsey seems to also like the one on one conversations with a server. It seems organic to me, in that the server comes up to him to serve his food. It’s only polite to chat with the server, right?

Note that in the original UK version of Kitchen Nightmares, the show didn’t pay for an expensive makeover of the restaurant. I remember that he would suggest changes, and sometimes we’d see the owners themselves repainting the restaurant or whatever. Presumably Fox has a bigger budget than Channel 4, which produced the UK version.

And on a similar show called Restaurant Impossible, part of the challenge is that the budget is limited to $10,000, although that doesn’t appear to include the labor costs for the show’s construction crew and designer.

There’s another thread on this episode here http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=690945

I had some of the same questions and they were answered in that thread.

ETA: My biggest question is why on earth would anyone agree to come on the show when you are going to end up looking like a loon?

Because no one thinks they’re going to end up looking like a loon. Similarly, none of these restaurant owners are aware of how filthy their food storage and kitchens are, how overloaded their menus are or how poorly their food is cooked.

Many people are not self-aware enough to realize how they look to other people (this is the basis for much of the comedy in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for example). Amy clearly thought she was completely right in everything she did and that the critics just didn’t understand good cooking.

I’m actually surprised there were so many customers in the store in the first place.

From what I understand, this was not a typical episode. Usually the restaurant has its problems identified and fixed. Then they reopen in their new improved version.

Yeah, I think I’ve seen every episode or most of them, and even the craziest owners eventually come around. In fact even this Samy guy seemed to be coming around. There have been plenty of people (most people) who deny deny deny and get in screaming matches with Gordon, but none had been completely unrelenting like Amy.

I’m trying to remember but I don’t think there have been many other episodes where he fought with the folks and then gave up. Several times the owners seemed to play along until the cameras left, but I can’t remember any times where it ended like this.

I think the show advertises that they’ll be in town, so the people at the tables have shown up because they know they might wind up on TV. It makes sense. If a restaurant is truly failing it will be empty a lot of the time, which makes for dull TV.

How much do you want to bet that there are people who now think “Hey, we should go to that comically-bad place from Kitchen Nightmares, that episode was hilarious!”? There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Am I the only one who thinks Ramsay comes up with the same new menu for every restaurant? I’m damn sure he introduces all of them as “light, local and healthy” in some order.

I actually know a guy who wanted to eat at Dillon’s, an Indian restaurant near Times Square which had just been on KN. If you’re not familiar, this episode was famous for having one of the filthiest kitchens ever on the show. No thanks.

The place is closed now.

Actually, I’ve only really seen the first season but Ramsey seemed to really focus on niche marketing with very different menus for the different restaurants. He turned one into a family-style Italian place and another into a gastropub. Since the new menus are always much smaller, I think that they are actually quite diverse.

There’s always a hilarious point in the show where the owner is upset, Gordon is in his/her face, and they inevitably resort to the “Who the fuck are you?” argument, and I’m quite shocked that Gordon never fires back with the obvious answer of “#1 I own dozens of successful restaurants and have earned 15 Michelin stars, and #2, YOU called ME because YOU are FAILING!” Maybe toss in a “You fat donkey!” somewhere for that unique Gordon Ramsay flavor.

Or maybe he does and they just edit that part out because it’s too mean (even though we’re all thinking it).

I’ve read in several different places that ABC is utterly swamped now.

Most of them are.

By the time they realize they are in a bad enough situation to start begging for help from reality shows and by the time they actually are in poor enough shape for the producers to see drama potential, it is usually too late. You rarely see owners that have another six months of comfortable working capital to turn things around ( almost never in the U.S. series ). Typically it is quite the contrary.

They can execute Ramsey’s new plan to a T, do everything right to reinvent themselves, but the simple crushing weight of their financial burdens I imagine are usually to heavy to fight through. Which considering the number of owners that apparently blown their life savings and mortgaged their home just to keep going that long, is rather depressing. Not all of them are assholes - some are simply clueless. And it’s a harsh, harsh reality stick most of them get beaten with. Even skilled restauranteurs sometimes lost their shirts, let alone amateurs.

Yeah, a lot of times the voiceover will say (for the first night where he watches how a service goes, not the initial visit where he has a meal) something to this effect. It’ll either be a variation on “X Restaurant never has many customers, so Gordon invited a lot of people in to test the kitchen under pressure” or “word got around that Gordon was in town and so tonight was busier than normal.”