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Gordon Ramsay: The Restaurant Black Widow

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’sshow Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA has been a huge hit, garnering thousands of American viewers and elevating the chef’s celebrity even further.

Unfortunately, the restaurants he’s supposed to be helping are dropping like flies in the wake of his black widow touch.  The show’s premise is to bring Ramsay’s expertise and creativity into a struggling restaurant and turn the place around.

But it was revealed recently that over half the restaurants that have appeared on the show have since gone out of business.

Some owners and managers complain that Ramsay’s management style, which includes making everything fresh every day and using high-end product and ingredients, created a standard too expensive to maintain in a down economy coupled with rising food costs.

Other victims of the show are less diplomatic, calling Ramsay a jerk who thinks he can impose his lofty standards on any restaurant.  Some are even suspicious it doesn’t really matter to him whether a restaurant on the show makes it or not, as long as ratings remain high, which they have through multiple seasons in the U.S. and the U.K.

Perhaps the most important lesson to take away from the Ramsay “kiss of death” is that every restaurant is different, and managers and owners have to account for the many divergent factors that make up the success of any establishment.

Of course, the ideal situation is to be able to attain Ramsay-style high standards and still make a profit, but any restaurateur will tell you that the situation on the ground is hardly ever ideal.  Instead, being highly adaptive, creative, and flexible are the traits that will eventually spell success in the food service industry.

About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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  1. These complaints are unjustified. Every restaurant he was visiting had two legs in the grave already and were holding on to the edge of the six-foot-drop with their dirty fingernails.

    Most restaurants fail. That half of the ones he has visited are still kicking is a testament to their success.

  2. “but any restaurateur will tell you that the situation on the ground is hardly ever ideal. Instead, being highly adaptive, creative, and flexible are the traits that will eventually spell success in the food service industry.”


    I have seen restaurants with GREAT food fail because of bad service. I have seen restaurants fail because of location. I have seen restaurants that should be out of business because of poor food make it because of good service and a good location.

    I believe it is a mix of things that makes a restaurant make it in the long term. I can name several (now famous) people who failed several times before they found that right “mix” and became a fabulous success!

    Years ago (the 1980’s), I lived in San Antonio Texas. I watched with my own eyes restaurants “make it” that probably wouldn’t have except for one food item; the Fajita. When it was discovered this humble piece of beef (the skirt steak) could be seasoned and grilled on a char broiler and served with flower tortillas, it spawned restaurants faster than rabbits. And unless you were terrible at the restaurant business, most made it!

    Kevin Loving
    Galveston Texas (where many of our restaurant owners know you DON’T have to have good service or food as long as you keep serving different people (called tourists)–LOL)

  3. This may be true but who can resist the entertainment factor in watching him yell at people!?

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