Would you eat at a Kitchen Nightmares restaurant?

I did eat at a KN restaurant, the week before Gordon showed up to work his magic. The food was… disappointing.

The owner had fallen ill, her son took over the restaurant, and drove it into the ground, which we didn’t know about, we were remembering the time when it was still a good Italian restaurant. That was 10 years ago, and they’re still open today.

It really depends on what the issues were that needed to be fixed.

I’ve been to Cafe Hon in Baltimore, post-KN. It was fine. Not the greatest anything I ever had, but it was acceptable. Nothing stood out good or bad. Strange hours. Only open 3 hours a day, 500-800P, Wednesday to Saturday. It’s a small place, so I don’t understand how they can stay in business on just 12 hours a week, but that’s their problem I guess.

I watch a lot of these types of business-saving shows (Restaurant: Impossible, Bar Rescue, The Profit, etc.) and as a rule it’s usually not that big a mystery why they are failing. I’m continually amazed at how far one can apparently take a business while having zero clue how to run one. Basic, fundamental stuff like calculating food costs, which is just elementary school arithmetic, is somehow over these people’s heads. I have zero restaurant or business experience and I feel like I could fix these places.

When people ask “why do restaurant owners act surprised when Ramsay tears them a new one, haven’t they watched the previous shows?” I’m reminded of Shark Tank/Dragon’s Den, because at least twice a show, this basic conversation happens:

ENTREPRENEUR: I’ve invented this thing and I’m looking for investors. I’d like $250,000 for ten percent of my business. Here’s how the thing works/tastes/whatever.

KEVIN O’LEARY: Your business is worth $2.5 million, cool, what are your sales?

ENTREPRENEUR: I have sold eighteen dollars’ worth of product and my Mom is going to let me mow her lawn for ten dollars a go.

LORI GRIENER: Wait, what?

ENTREPRENEUR: Oh and a few people said they might possibly buy one

Time after time people go on the show and claim they’re worth millions despite there being no objective evidence anyone wants the product. There is zero chance they’ll win the sharks over, but it keeps happening.

People can be incredibly self-deluded when it comes to business.

It’s a shame the creators of the fat sandwich were unable to cash in when their ideas got stolen. I was wondering if the owners of Fat Shack came by their idea naturally. I went to the origin story and saw the founder went to college in New Jersey. Nope, stolen. Fat sandwiches were started in the Grease Trucks at Rutgers University decades ago.

IIRC the original post that you linked to happened very close to where they started.

Sure but that happens all the time, especially with an unprotectable idea like a “fat sandwich”. And there’s a huge difference between inventing something and making a business of it. Ray Kroc didn’t invent the hamburger or the McDonalds restaurant but he made it a big business. Similarly, Fred DeLuca didn’t invent the idea of a submarine/hero/grinder sandwich shop but built his Subway concept into a giant chain.

In any event, I never made it to Fat Shack on my trip - they were closed when I popped by at 12:30 PM yesterday, even though their website, Google, and their Doordash page all said they opened at 11 AM on Sundays. I ended up wandering around the area for awhile and idly walking into a Mexican restaurant that was only serving brunch (I had biscuits and chorizo gravy) and for some inexplicable reason was hosting a drag show, which wasn’t really my bag but was mildly entertaining nonetheless.

Today, I decided to not even try them before I left town, and went to Boiling Point instead for some Taiwanese hotpot.

I think I would have enjoyed going to Sebastian’s, the restaurant that was the subject of my all-time favorite episode. I mean, I don’t recall any issues about health or cleanliness that I would need to worry about. But I think I would have found it interesting to meet Sebastian himself, a deluded boob who dreamed of having his food sold in supermarkets and launching a franchise when he was basically serving frozen food that had been microwaved. And I think I would have liked to have seen and appreciated the needlessly complex menu concept that he was obscenely proud of thinking up even though it was apparently driving customers away.