Every Unbelievable New Jersey Restaurant Featured on Kitchen Nightmares
Chef Gordon Ramsay is the king of culinary reality TV.
The loud and crude dude has built an empire with shows like Hell's Kitchen, Hotel Hell, 24 Hours to Hell and Back, and Master Chef just to mention a few.
It all started with Kitchen Nightmares.
First launched in the U.K., Chef Ramsay would visit a restaurant on the brink of shutting down due to poor food, mismanagement, family issues, or all of the above.
Most episodes would begin in a very volatile way with Ramsay taste-testing subpar food.
He would usually tear into the cooking staff and owners before inspecting the kitchens and uncovering horrific scenes.
How many restaurants from Kitchen Nightmares are still open?
According to Reality TV Updates, out of the 77 establishments featured on Kitchen Nightmares, only 15 are still open.
That's a 21% success rate. Ouch.
Is this all Gordon Ramsay's fault? No.
I've seen almost every episode and I've thought that he and the Kitchen Nightmare left businesses in a position to succeed.
Whether or not the restaurants followed the plan the Chef set up for them is another story.
Which New Jersey restaurants have been featured on Kitchen Nightmares?
Quite a few. Let's take a look.
Mike & Nellie's - OAKHURST
Chef Ramsay visited this Route 35 mainstay in July 2011. I remember this well because Gordon and his crew came to the 94.3 The Point studios down the street to promote his visit on the morning show.
As a matter of fact, Lou Russo was in attendance for the opening night after the relaunch.
The Mike of Mike & Nellie's is Mike Farber. Nellie was his father, and together in 1996, father and son started the family business.
Chef Mike was struggling after the passing of his father and partner. He also had the pressure of supporting his daughters who worked at the restaurant.
Even after a pretty extensive redo and a new menu in season 5, episode 3, Mike & Nellie's closed only three months after its episode aired.
The former Mike & Nellie's is now an Italian restaurant called Posillipo.
Reality TV Updates says Mike now has his own catering business.
Hannah & Mason's - CRANBURY
Chef Ramsay visited Cranbury and a French bistro called Hannah and Mason's. I
Owned by two friends who lack business skills and motivation, the restaurant administers bounced checks to the staff.
What Gordon found in the walk-in cooler was so foul and dangerous that it caused him to shut the eatery down on one of the busiest nights of the year, Valentine's Day.
In a prime location to use locally-sourced ingredients, Chef reinvents the menu and even puts New Jersey farmers in the front to promote the opening.
Hannah & Mason's episode during season two of Kitchen Nightmares aired in October of 2008, and sadly the restaurant was closed for good by February 2010.
Reality TV Updates reports a combination of the poor economy and a decrease in loyal customers that didn't care for Gordon Ramsay's new menu led to the restaurant's demise.
The old Hannah & Mason's on Main Street is now occupied by a lawyer.
Blackberry's - PLAINFIELD
In the season opener of season four, Chef Ramsay goes to Plainfield to visit Blackberry's, a restaurant in desperate need of improvement when it comes to both food and service.
Once a successful caterer, Shelly Withers used her mother's retirement fund to open a soul food restaurant Blackberry’s.
This episode would go down as one of the grossest of the entire series.
It started with a dead rat being found at the door when Gordon was walking in.
Shelly was very stubborn and resistant to change the entire time.
After Chef revealed the remodel, new equipment, and menu, the owner stormed off in disgust.
According to the Reality TV Updates, Ramsay's help just wasn't enough to resuscitate Blackberry's.
It closed in March of 2013, a year and a half after Kitchen Nightmares visited.
This space is now home to Un Nuevo Renacer Bakery.
The owner is now a shift lead for Aramark, a food service company.
Flamingo's / The Junction - WHITEHOUSE STATION
In season 2, episode 4, Chef Ramsay visits Flamango's, an outdated eatery in desperate need of care.
Ramsay suggests a major overhaul, but he runs into opposition when the owner thinks it's best to simply shut down the restaurant.
Instead, Chef did an overhaul and took down all of the ugly decorations.
To get rid of them once and for all, they were burned in a huge bonfire.
Flamingos was renamed "The Junction."
Owner Adele wasn't happy with the changes at first but came around to liking them after the customers seemed happy.
Just about two years after taping at the Whitehouse Station restaurant, The Junction would close its doors.
The owners would put Gordon on blast and blame him and the show closure.
Adele and her husband are now retired in Florida.
Spanish Pavilion - HARRISON
In the season three premiere, Chef Ramsay visits Spanish Pavillion in Harrison.
Spanish Pavillion was launched by Antoni Fernandez in 1976.
After Antonio retired, he left the restaurant to his daughter, Balbina, and grandsons, Michael and Jerry.
It was soon after the brothers took over that business started to suffer.
Customers complained about the food and stopped returning to the establishment.
This led the business to accumulate over half a million dollars in debt.
Kitchen Nightmares gave the restaurant a makeover.
Chef Ramsay also added tapas to the menu.
Spanish Pavilion is one of the few restaurants on Nightmares to still be open after it was featured in January 2011.
Grasshopper Also - CALSTADT
In season four, episode five, the Irish pub in Carlstadt Grasshopper Also is featured.
This is a classic case of having too many cooks in the kitchen. Literally.
You have Mitch, his wife Maureen, and Mitch's father-in-law "Chief" all in the mix. Maureen was so busy separating her husband and father that she hardly had time to do anything at the restaurant.
While Gordon was told that Mitch ran the kitchen, it's clear he did very little.
Ramsay was hoping that a remodel of Mitch's restaurant would reignite his spark.
Gordon also added traditional Irish fare to the menu.
In October of 2012, the Grasshopper Also was sold. They lasted about two years after being filmed for Kitchen Nightmares.
A tapas restaurant called Segovia Meson now sits in the place of Grasshopper Also.
Leone's - MONTCLAIR
Season four, episode two of Kitchen Nightmares features a Montclair Italian restaurant that needed a makeover badly.
Rose Leone, the owner of Leone's, fell into a coma and Michael began running her restaurant.
There's only one problem. Michael had no experience running an eatery and did very little to help with the success of Leone's.
Michael's laziness was causing the business to hemorrhage $16,000 a month.
In a move that was never-before-scene on the reality show, Gordon ordered one of everything on the menu - a staggering 100 items.
After training Michael, cutting the menu in half, and featuring fresh Italian dishes, the new Leone's was launched.
This episode aired in September of 2011, and I'm happy to report that Leone's is still in operation.
Campania - FAIR LAWN
In the ninth episode of season one, Gordon hits Fair Lawn Italian restaurant Campania.
While the eatery had been around for a while, Joe Cerniglia has purchased it 18 months before Kitchen Nightmares came to visit.
The problems were clear from the beginning. There was a staff that didn't care, poor dishes, and an owner that was over-ordering food that was going to waste and therefore costing him money.
Joe's wife told Chef that things were so bad that she and Joe were in jeopardy of losing their house.
Joe claimed to have the best meatballs in town, so after getting some tips from Gordon, the two hit the streets promoting the relaunch of the restaurant and giving out samples.
That didn't seem to be enough to keep Campania afloat. Joe sold the business in 2010, three years after the Kitchen Nightmares episode aired.
This story has an even more tragic ending. Joe Cerniglia committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge eight days after the sale.
Bazzini - RIDGEWOOD
Owners of Bazzini in Ridgewood, Paul and Leslie Bazzini, were overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a successful restaurant.
Limited hours and lots of competition proved to be a challenge for the Italian restaurant.
The only highlight was the desserts made by employee Suzyn.
Ramsay felt fresh food and a contemporary feel was vital for Bazzini to stay alive.
The relaunch seemed to be promising but turned out to not be enough. It closed soon after Gordon's visit.
Ramsay returned to an empty restaurant for his "Revisited" segment.
The Bazzini's didn't speak to Chef and told the media that viewers don't see what happens when the cameras are off.
They accused producers of stirring up drama for good TV.
You can now find Lisa’s Mediterranean Cuisine where Bazzini's used to be.