First restaurant of the new season! The Handlebar. Before I get into the summary of what happened, I need to say something. Parts of this write-up are a bit disjointed and seem to jump from situation to situation…. well, that’s because that’s the way the show was.
Bill and Carolyn his wife bought the Handlebar in Mount Sinai, New York a year ago, seeing it as a good business opportunity. A year later, they were in trouble because the restaurant wasn’t filling with customers.
Gordon arrived, tried the food, and immediately realized that was the problem. In the sit down with Bill, Carolyn, and Melissa the head chef. Much to Gordon’s surprise, Melissa says that she’s really not interesting in being a head chef!
The food being served later that night wasn’t good. Frozen broccoli was served, radishes being served with steak, and burnt French Fries.
A good look at the back rooms was a surprise, it was really, really filthy. Billy really didn’t want to hear any of Gordon’s criticism, and walked off. Billy was REALLY mad at Gordon for speaking to hi in what he felt was a disrespectful way. He ended up driving off, after calling Carolyn to say he was going to throw in the towel.
The servers and chef ended up cleaning the refrigerator, and they got a plan together to get things going again. Gordon gave Melissa a quick demonstration on how to make clams with a homemade tartar sauce, and home made potato chips.
During dinner service, Billy returned. Service started to stack up, and the customers were waiting quite a while. The customers even started yelling at each other.
Finally, Billy and Gordon talk about what happened that night, and decided to have a staff meeting after dinner. They cut down the menu to make it simpler.
The Kitchen Nightmares team went in that night and revamped the whole restaurant. (I have to say, I’m pretty impressed to see how much they did).
They transformed into a Gastropub, the first on Long Island.
As a way to relaunch the restaurant, Gordon got Dee Snider (from Twisted Sister) as part of a motorcycle rally promotion, and they handed out fliers for the relaunch with a simplified menu.
The restaurant filled up and the food was going out well to start. They had a quick break and Dee Sinder came in on a motorcycle they want to auction for the March of Dimes.
After that, the kitchen started to fall apart. Food was coming back because it was undercooked, and things weren’t looking good. The main problem was the Melissa wasn’t using the other two cooks in the kitchen. Once she did this, the kitchen started working better. The restaurant ended the night on the high note. The next few days were busy too, and they started to do better.
By the time Gordon left, the Handlebar had turned the corner.
I was happy to see that the restaurant turned around, but it really seems like the show needed to go into a bit more depth about how they changed the menu and got the kitchen going again.
Visit the Handlebar website here. Hope they’re doing well!