Friday, April 11, 2014

Kitchen Nightmares - Pantaleone's Update

Photo - Twitter
Tonight on the season 7 premiere of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay is first heading to the infamous Amy's Baking Company to revisit their restaurant.  With the media sensation that Amy and Samy became, you had to know Kitchen Nightmares would be back to capitalize on that. 

In the 2nd part of the episode, Gordon is in Denver, Colorado to try to help out a pizza place called Pantaleone's.  Pantaleone's is supposedly stuck in the past as they claim they are the best pizza in Denver, and have a review from the 1980's to prove that.

Kitchen Nightmares visited Pantaleone's all the way back in July 2013 to film the episode, and I searched around the Internet to read stories, comments and reviews about Pantaleone's to get an idea of how the restaurant is doing since Gordon Ramsay visited, and here is what I found (note - all reviews are post Kitchen Nightmares):

Positive Reviews:
  • "4 stars for the pizza- fresh ingredients and nice fluffy crust."
  • "The service from both the owner and his son was attentive and warm... We also shared a large greek pizza. (Large was just the right size for two of us)  The crust was as slated, awesome.  Light and crispy with just enough chewiness....We'll be back."
  • "We went here because of the Kitchen Nightmares make over.  We WILL return because of the simply amazing food and service."
  • "Food and staff are beyond excellent and affordable; and, since this place is so close I'll definitely be a regular here!"
  • "The place is spruced up and the pizza has changed. I do miss the old pizza but enjoyed my "new"pizza last night. I still enjoy the really good crust. Service is as delightful as ever. A really good small neighborhood pizza (and Italian) restaurant!"
  • "Very good food and friendly/helpful staff. The make over works as the facility is very cozy. The pizza was great as was the vodka penne pasta. Veggie lasagna was a hit too. Good wine selection at fair pricing."
  • "This place is awesome! Food was great, service was amazing, and Pete is one of the nicest people I've met since moving to Denver. I always try to support local business, and Pantaleone's is a great local spot!"

 Negative Reviews:
  • "3 stars for the price- smaller pizza than most for the same price and quality. 2 stars for convenience- difficult access to the restaurant and the chef is not flexible. We asked to remove black olives from one half of the pizza and he would not do it."
  • "Next my family tries to order a half extra- large cheese pizza (for the kids) and half pepperoni (for us). We are told they don't do halfs. In absolute bewilderment I offer to pay for a full pepperoni pizza but ask if the pizza maker can just put it on half. I am told "no, we don't do that."...The fact that he couldn't omit four slices of pepperoni from one half of the pizza was a deal killer to me. I won't be back."
  • "We were disappointed they did not serve bread with meal and the price is too high....Looking at how the reviews have changed since their makeover, I hope the publicity will make up for the lost customers....We won't go back!"
  • "Everything I used to know, love, and crave about Pantaleones is officially gone....We always ordered their large, 18 inch or so, pizza which could feed a family of 5 because it was so big. The dough was incredible and the sauce was amazing. Nothing like that pizza. NOW it is a completely different pizza."
*Reviews from Yelp, Tripadvisor, Urbanspoon

Other News and Links:
  • Here is the Pantaleone's website, Facebook page, Twitter page, and their menu.
  • On their website, they say, "We enjoyed a complete makeover by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in July 2013: the kitchen, dining room and menu. Everything is now house-made fresh daily, including our Italian sausage.  Much has changed for the better. Except for our secret homemade pizza crust. After all, you can’t improve perfection."
  • A Denver Post article about the episode airing tonight said the pizza will fail a side-by-side taste test against a store bought frozen pizza, and that the owners will be flown to Vegas to visit a restaurant to "see how it's done."
  • A December 2013 article from ABC Denver has a good update from Pete about the restaurant:
    • Pete said the restaurant is still struggling and the restaurant lost some of its regulars after Gordon cut unprofitable items from the menu.  He said he was basically giving food away.
    • The dough is still Pete's recipe, and it is one of the only things Gordon didn't change.
    • The restaurant has an updated interior, a new $10,000 stainless steel stove, and a catering van from the being on the show.
    • On the night of the relaunch, Pete said Gordon "sabotaged the stove, replaced a dishwasher with a production assistant, tossed out a waiter, and sent Pete's 17-year-old grandson to talk to Miss Colorado"
    • Pete is hoping the business will pick up after the episode airs, and Gordon plans to revisit the restaurant for a follow-up episode.
    • There are also a lot of comments on that article saying the location is the main problem with the restaurant.


The reviews of Pantaleone's before Kitchen Nightmares visited were above average (about 4 out of 5 stars), and the reviews about the food continue to be good with there being a lot of complements on the crust.  There are also compliments on the service, with people also saying Pete comes out to talk to their tables.  I guess that may not be the best thing as it means they aren't too busy.

There were some negative reviews about not being able to do substitutions on pizzas or being able to have toppings on just half a pizza.  I am not sure why they do not allow that, but it doesn't seem like a good idea.  Also, some of the regulars were upset with the changes such as smaller pizzas and higher prices.  But these were probably the reasons the restaurant was failing as it was "giving away food" according to Pete.

As is usually the case with reality TV, Pete claims there was a little bit of sabotage on the relaunch night to make for better TV.

It seems one of the main problems of the restaurant is the location, so we will see if that is addressed tonight.  Maybe the publicity the Kitchen Nightmares episode brings will help people find the restaurant, otherwise, they might be in trouble.

*To see updates on all the restaurants from Kitchen Nightmares and to see which ones are open or closed, visit the Kitchen Nightmares Update Page

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