Kitchen Nightmares
The Mixing Bowl

Episode Report Card
Keckler: B | 1 USERS: B+
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The Mixing Bowl

Tucking into his order, Ramsay asks what makes their non-local "Merrie-land" crab cakes "award-winning." Mike hems a bit and says that he needs to ask the chef, who knows more about those sorts of things. "I thought you'd know about it if you were the manager and they were on the menu," Ramsay comments, and, without listening to Mike's stuttering, orders his food. When it comes, he's impressed by the surprising freshness of the crab cakes, but not much else. Especially not Mike the Manager, whom he asks to please not stare at him because he feels like there's a cockroach is on his shoulder that he's trying to shake off while he eats.

Ramsay visits the kitchen and tells Billy the Silent Chef what little he thought of the food. Billy is silent. Mike the Manager, however, is not. He asserts himself enough to tell Ramsay that on their ten-year anniversary, the restaurant handed out complimentary zucchini cakes -- the same that Ramsay described as "a mouthful of glue" -- to all the customers and all the customers loved them. Ramsay stymies Mike with: "If you give something away and it's free, who's going to complain about it?" Words to cook by. Mike argues to the camera, "That never happens, so either he's crazy or every customer who comes in here is lying to me." Yes, all two of them. Ramsay's final assessment is that the restaurant is sadly, drearily average. While Lisa is upset to hear her husband judged so harshly, Mike is spoiling for a fight, and Billy is silent. It would seem that ever since Marcel Marceau landed himself in that eternally inescapable box, Billy has been looking to take over his career.

That same night, Ramsay watches the restaurant serve five -- seriously -- customers. Even worse than the DOA atmosphere is when Mike the Manager hands out coupons to two of the five customers, giving them half off their meal. Ramsay leaps on this and collars Mike for some answers. Mike stutters and rambles and finally he and Billy cop to handing these things out for quite a few years now. Next, we see him dragging huge signs through the restaurant, between the barely warm tables, and outside to show Ramsay his mess. They are all promo signs and there's about nine of them. There's a pumpkin saying: "Order your holiday desserts NOW!" and something else saying -- rather obliquely -- "Tuesday night dinner special select three $12.95" and still another bragging, "Introducing our NEW menu." Mike admits they are expensive but protests, "I've tried everything!" "Clearly," is all Ramsay manages as he attempts to take it all in. He hones in on one that says, "Now accepting reservations," and Mike attempts to explain, "We thought that because we aren't taking reservations, people weren't coming in here." Ah, the hard-to-get approach. Doesn't quite work when you're situated on a busy thoroughfare, aren't Gary Danko, and, as Ramsay and the wide-open windows indicate, are completely empty.

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Kitchen Nightmares

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