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    Crabby Admin Term's Avatar

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    The Makeover Show: Spitting Into The Wind

    This thread was brought on by the fact that I've been watching a crap load of Kitchen Nightmares since I realized it was on Netflix.

    I have an addiction. And it mostly revolves around the "makeover" show made famous by "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", but specifically the strain dealing with the food service industry. Restaurant Impossible, Kitchen Nightmares, and Bar Rescue have a permanent spot on my DVR as shows I can't miss and can't get enough of. This is likely due to the fact that I have previously worked in a bar/restaurant when I was younger and also because I'm just completely fascinated by the kinds of people who go into the service industry because they think it's an easy way to make a buck and just have no concept of what it takes to own and keep a business afloat.

    Most of these shows follow a similar three act arc: Act 1 the host meets the owner/staff of a restaurant and is absolutely appalled by what is shown to the audience as terrible decor, horrible service, improperly cooked food, lack of cleaning standards, and so forth. Act 2, the host confronts the staff about their problems and this ultimately leads to shouting matches where we find that the owners are either delusional, unwilling to work, or woefully under prepared for what needs to be done. By Act 3, the restaurant's been renovated and the staff manage to have at least one good night of profit before the host leaves with the expectation that they've left the bar/restaurant on the right track for success after changing their menu, look, and in some cases, branding.

    Unfortunately, as some of you can guess, the actual ending is left more open-ended then what the editor might have intended. Even if a specific show gives you a "after a few weeks" look-in after the host leaves and just before the episode ends, more often then not in a couple of months a lot of the bars/restaurants end up closing.

    This is a problem that has been going on since the likes of shows like "Pimp My Ride" where people with beaten up/broken down cars would get custom work done for them on the level of what a celebrity would expect from their personal rides. The problem with this show, which no one considered at the time, was that because of all the fancy gadgets and brand new parts that were added on or used to replace old ones, the insurance premiums for the "lucky" car owners went skyrocketing to the point where they couldn't afford to own the car they were given, ultimately making all the work done for the car owner completely useless, except for the chance to make some money by selling their vehicle for a somewhat nicer car then they had before the show.

    This is ultimately the issue of these "consultant" types of shows. While the people who are renovating cars or in the case of the shows I'm watching, restaurants and bars, are extremely knowledgeable about their profession and can certainly help do a couple of things to show people how to run their businesses the right way, they ultimately don't make their decisions with the complete context of the situation surrounding a restaurant or bar.

    For instance, in the first season of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay visits an Irish pub called "Finn McCool's" in the Hamptons. Now while the pub ultimately becomes one of the few success stories of the show, one of the items Gordon detested, "Irish Spring Rolls" was ultimately put back on the menu due to popular demand of the customer base that went there. This is a small example of a much larger issue, which is exacerbated when Ramsay, Robert Irvine, or Jon Taffer go to a bar or restaurant in the Midwest United States. Many establishments have closed down, citing their renovations for hastening the process due to the fact that old and new customers alike found the changes to these businesses too much to accept or ultimately too pricy/lavish for their tastes. One steakhouse that Irvine had visited cited in an article that before they closed they changed their menu from the one that was left to them by the Food Network star because while many enjoyed their fresh meats and produce that were being used instead of canned or frozen versions, things such as a demi-glace and reduction added onto steaks were driving away customers who just wanted "steak and potatoes."

    Such is the issue of bringing an advanced, fine-dining palate to a small-town blue collar restaurant while certain ideas like a steakhouse in an area that's dominated with Italian grills makes sense, if that steakhouse is serving food you'd expect in a five-star restaurant on 35th street in New York City, the steakhouse might still fail because it doesn't agree with the demographic of the area.

    Now certainly we must consider that many of these restaurants may have also been too far gone to save, even with the help of a show like Kitchen Nightmares or Bar Rescue, considering many of these restaurants don't even have proper filing systems or the means to keep their books straight, and have put themselves in debt upwards of half a million dollars. On the same token though, while there's clearly more research and effort put into these projects then we're led to believe, it's surprising that many of these shows don't ultimately help these restaurants aside from a brief spike in good PR.

    And that is Term's TV industry editorial of the week. Does anyone else watch these shows? How do you feel about them?

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    Didn't try, Succeeded Fay V's Avatar



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    Lol, I'm watching Kitchen Nightmares right now! I actually really like this show as a terrible guilty pleasure. It's astounding to watch these people and how deluded they are on how to run a business or even basic PR. "Someone said something negative, clearly they're trolls and terrible" I swear the latest episode the owners had an attitude so childish it's stunning, it's something I expect from a 12 year old.

    I don't watch with the delusion of seeing someones life turned around in 24 hours and they're suddenly going to see blue skies. The issues present in these shows are too long running. The attitudes in general show someone that doesn't understand how to adapt properly or seek out help and advice. These places are like 3k in debt a week or whatever by the time Ramsey gets in.

    I agree, a true transformation would take research and such. I think if this were to really work the host would have to be around for month, two months...whatever. Enough to instill the basic foundational knowledge of how to operate. you can't teach that over 24-72 hours, you can't.

    The success stories I have seen, the owners genuinely had the positives needed but were over their head or in need of some direction. Perhaps they were being coned by a head chef that's a ponse. In these cases the direction is helpful in general, but most of the time they don't have the personality for it in the first place so it was always doomed to fail.

    Honestly I view it the same as the reality show star that thinks this will spring them into fame and fortune.

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    Crabby Admin Term's Avatar

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    The concept of the show is really why you can predict that most of these restaurants are going to fail. It features "the worst restaurants in the US/UK" which pretty much tells you all you need to know. Usually most of these restaurants have problems with management whether it be with food costs, marketing, or general lack of leadership skills.

    As you said, the people who tend to succeed are those who are responsive to the changes, but also those who just generally need counseling from an industry professional or just a kick in the ass to stop going the lazy route of frozen foods, microwaves and deep-fat frying not to mention implementing a cleaning schedule. It's amazing how many restaurants don't meet those basic standards, including doing something as simple as dating the food in your refrigeration units.

    But of course I think that's the whole reason why those kinds of shows are just so damn addicting.

  4. #4
    I actually tend to dislike these shows, exactly because in real life, no one would come to their rescue; they'd sink or swim on their own. Then again, I usually find the type of people featured on reality shows of that nature to be obnoxious. It's why I stick to 'extreme living' shows like Deadliest Catch or Flying Wild Alaska.

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    Retired Staff Tiger's Avatar
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    I'm personally not a fan of Kitchen Nightmares (though I do enjoy Hell's Kitchen) or Restaurant Impossible, but damn I love Bar Rescue. I love that Taffer won't take hell from anyone and him standing up to the asshole/blissfully unaware owners is kind of entertaining to me. What I find unbelievable is that these owners are given thousands of new technology and renovations and they still stay in their ways and toss it to the side like nothing. Like Swanky Bubbles changing their name back or that guy that refused to pay his employees even after Jon did the "rescue". Kinda saddens me because there are so many other bars that could legitimately and potentially benefit from a rescue.

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    Crabby Admin Term's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger View Post
    I'm personally not a fan of Kitchen Nightmares (though I do enjoy Hell's Kitchen) or Restaurant Impossible, but damn I love Bar Rescue. I love that Taffer won't take hell from anyone and him standing up to the asshole/blissfully unaware owners is kind of entertaining to me. What I find unbelievable is that these owners are given thousands of new technology and renovations and they still stay in their ways and toss it to the side like nothing. Like Swanky Bubbles changing their name back or that guy that refused to pay his employees even after Jon did the "rescue". Kinda saddens me because there are so many other bars that could legitimately and potentially benefit from a rescue.
    There's been no greater development in TV history than being able to catch Jon Taffer yell "SHUT IT DOWN!"

 

 

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