Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares Update – Still Open in 2024?

Is Cafe 36 still open?

Current Status: >> CLOSED <<
(keep reading to learn what happened)

Season: 2 | View All Season 2 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: January 15, 2009
Cafe 36 Address: 22 Calendar Ave La Grange, Illinois 60525
cafe 36 update Kitchen Nightmares

Episode Recap

Cafe 36 was a La Grange, Illinois (Chicago) restaurant featured on season 2 of Kitchen Nightmares.

Though the Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares episode aired in January 2009, the actual visit from Gordon Ramsay happened all the way back at the beginning of 2008.

It was Season 2 Episode 12 of Kitchen Nightmares.

In this episode, Gordon Ramsay heads to Cafe 36 in La Grange Illinois.

La Grange is a suburb and part of nearby Chicago, so there’s a large market for a succesful restaurant.

He is, on the other hand, a well-respected, top expert in the culinary industry, who can either make or break a chef or a restaurant.

Terry Gilmer Cafe 36 owner

The Cafe 36 owners are Terry Gilmer and Carol Gilmer, a husband and wife duo.

Owning a restaurant had always been Terry’s dream and Carol was willing to go along for the ride.

In this 2009 episode, Terry and Carol Gilmer were distraught with fear at the prospect of losing everything due to a declining clientele and poor kitchen service.

Their sous-chef, Barney Smith, made a desperate plea for help and called upon Chef Ramsay’s expert services.

It took three months for the Gilmers to finally agree to this proposition and commit to the Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares episode and visit from Gordon Ramsay.

Carol Gilmer Cafe 36 owner

The waiter at Cafe 36 was pleasant, polite and honest the day that Gordon Ramsay visited the establishment.

The famous chef decided to try the duck salad, despite its odd mixture of ingredients, the wild mushroom risotto, and the day’s crepe special, a sauteed Atlantic salmon, made with crepes that were “not special at all”.

The head chef, Pinto Das, received the order with confidence, stating that Chef Ramsay’s presence did not make him nervous at all.

While waiting impatiently for his order, Chef Ramsay commented on the presence of dust and the unattractiveness of the mismatched plates.

He did not seem overly impressed as he questioned about the lack of customers.

Mr. Ramsay’s lunch finally arrived on a trolley after a surprising 40-minute wait.

Viewers could easily detect worry and apprehensiveness on the the Gilmers’ faces, as Carol Gilmer admitted that she got nervous when Chef Ramsay began eating.

Gordon Ramsay eating at Cafe 36

She maintained, however, that she was confident regarding the excellent quality of the food served at Cafe 36.

Chef Ramsay seemed less than impressed with the mushy, overly salty risotto.

The sous-chef, Barney, was amused and relieved that an expert finally confirmed what he had been trying to tell Pinto for ages.

The next course of duck salad was excessively sweet, with a bizarre combination of candied walnuts and fruit.

Chef Ramsay was further appalled when, upon receiving his third course, he learned that the mushy crepe, buried under the saucy, salmon mixture, was store-bought.

Overall, Gordon seems to think that chef Pinto is the main problem with Cafe 36.

Chef Pinto from Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares

To fix things, he needs to get Pinto to see the light and also mend the relationship between Pinto and Barney so that the two can work well together.

During the relaunch night, the kitchen seems to go downhill after a strong start.

Pinto is back to being strongheaded and not following the principles from Gordon Ramsay.

Barney is doing a much better job, but he’s still overloaded, especially because he and Chef Pinto aren’t pulling in the same direction.

Eventually, Terry Gilmer, the owner, jumps into the fray and gets the two dueling chefs to start working together again.

Chef Barney from Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares

Food starts moving out of the kitchen at a faster pace and the Kitchen Nightmares Cafe 36 episode seems to be ending on a strong note.

While the food did take some time to come out, the customers generally seemed happy with it when it did arrive, which is a good sign.

Once the relaunch night is finished, Gordon Ramsay has an honest conversation with Terry and Carol Gilmer.

As part of that, they gift him a nice bottle of wine.

Instead of taking the wine with him, Gordon has them keep it there at the restaurant so that Gordon can drink it when he visits again.

Overall, the episode seems to end on a high note and things are looking bright for the restaurant.

Gordon Ramsay leaves Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares episode

So was the Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares episode a success?

Keep reading our update to learn what happened next and if this La Grange, IL restaurant is still open in 2024 and beyond.

Cafe 36 Update - What Happened Next?

Now that we’ve recapped the Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares episode, let’s talk about what happened after Gordon Ramsay and his crew left La Grange, IL / Chicago

First off, the close relationship between Gordon and the Gilmers seemed to be legitimate.

During the filming of the episode, the Gilmers actually became friends with Ramsay, and they had a very successful beginning to 2009 because of the changes made based on his recommendations.

They updated their decor, developed a more contemporary menu and added some local artwork.

After the episode aired, chef Pinto was fired and replaced by Barney, who eventually left also to finish his studies.

Pinto moved on to work for a family in the area.

Unfortunately, even though Terry and Carol Gilmer followed Gordon Ramsay’s principles, it would not be enough to save the restaurant.

Is Cafe 36 still open in 2024?

Cafe 36 closed in April of 2009.

While this was only a few months after the episode aired on TV, it’s actually over a year after the visit from Gordon Ramsay.

Still, it’s unfortunate that the restaurant wasn’t able to stay open for longer.

As of 2023, the old Cafe 36 La Grange IL location is occupied by a new restaurant called Empanadus.

The new restaurant seems to have good reviews, with a 4 star rating on its Yelp page.

Here’s what the old Cafe 36 Chicago location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view:

Why did Cafe 36 close?

The Gilmers blamed the weak economy for the restaurant’s closure.

Additionally, while they had a good relationship with Gordon Ramsay, they seem to believe his changes also contributed to the restaurant’s closure.

Whether a victim of a poor economy or of Chef Ramsay’s tough love, Cafe 36 is now nothing but an abandoned, forsaken dream.

What happened to Terry and Carol Gilmer (owners of Cafe 36)?

A lot of people are wondering what happened to Terry and Carol Gilmer, who were the cafe 36 owners that you saw on the episode.

As far as I can tell, they’ve both retired and are enjoying spending time with their grandchildren.

However, they don’t have much of an online presence so I don’t know anything beyond that.

If you know more about what happened to Terry and Carol Gilmer, please let me know in the comments!

What happened to Chef Pinto from Kitchen Nightmares?

The most recent update that I can find for the Cafe 36 Chef Pinto is that he was working as a private chef for a family in the Chicago suburbs.

However, that was back from 2009 so I’m guessing he’s moved on since then.

Again, if you know anything, please let me know in the comments.

If you want to learn more about the beef between Chef Pinto and Barney, Barney responded in this lengthy forum thread from a local Chicago food forum.

For example, Barney said that “Pinto called me a “diner cook” and made wise cracks about my wife (she’s is Korean),so of course we did not get along”.

Barney also criticized Pinto’s management – “He didn’t have recipes for anything and costantly changed the instructions on menu items which really caused problems with consistency.”.

Here are screenshots of the relevant comments from Barney…

On what happened to Chef Pinto from Cafe 36:

On what happened to Barney from Cafe 36:

On Terry’s experience that wasn’t covered in the show:

On Barney’s portrayal on the show:

Overall, Pinto just doesn’t come off well in Barney’s comments.

Final thoughts on the Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares episode

Overall, the Cafe 36 Gordon Ramsay visit was not a long-term success as the restaurant closed just a few months after the episode aired (and around a year after Gordon’s visit).

The Gilmers said that Cafe 36 closed because of the weak economy around the Great Recession, which does seem like a legit reason given how many other restaurants it affected.

Terry and Carol Gilmer seem to be retired nowadays.

Chef Barney left some comments about the show, including saying that Chef Pinto was working as a private chef (though that’s from back in 2009).

As of 2023, the old Cafe 36 La Grange / Chicago location is occupied by a new restaurant named Empanadus.

That wraps up my thoughts on Cafe 36.

If you want to see updates for some other Kitchen Nightmares Season 2 restaurants, you can check out these posts:

And if you want to share your thoughts on the Cafe 36 episode, you can do so using the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

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Last updated: 2023-08-05 04:48

46 thoughts on “Cafe 36 Kitchen Nightmares Update – Still Open in 2024?”

All comments are the sole opinion of the commenter and are not endorsed by RealityTVUpdates.

  1. Poor operations is one thing that starts a poor business….. Everything starts from the time the customer walks in to the controll of service to the finished product! Complacency in the workforce is the killer… such a shame.

  2. That is so sad to hear that they ended up closing. But, to try to blame it on Chef Ramsay is ludacris! I was really pulling for this couple. I wish Chef Ramsay didnt stop doing this show but, seeing how ungrateful some are I can totally understand why he would stop. Good luv to all!!!

  3. You can’t blame Gordon. What was implemented was required
    I think that they were probably so far in the red that there was no coming back.
    Nice try tho Gordon.
    I wish the couple well

  4. I watched this episode for the first time yesterday on HULU and, although I felt for the Gilmer’s, I have to ask why someone with absolutely no experience in the restaurant business would put all their financial resources into buying one.

    I believe the decision to promote Barney was a big mistake; after getting advice from Ramsay, I would have sought out a well-trained chef who was willing to put talent and energy into the opportunity to follow in Ramsay’s footsteps.

    Of course, this is all just me talking about something of which I know nothing. However, after watching several Ramsay episodes, it appears obvious that if one wants to succeed in a restaurant, you have to address it like a driven football coach.

    • Barney reported on a forum in 2009 after the episode aired that Terry (the owner) had actually worked for 20 years as the executive chef for a country club….the editing etc made him look like he had little to no knowledge of the industry.

      • If he had 20 years experience he didn’t learn much did he. Why didn’t he be the chef? Very odd seeing as this was his dream…

  5. Pinto was the most incompetent, lazy, arrogant chefs I’ve seen on the show. How did he ever get through cooking school being that lazy and inept? He studied in Italy and couldn’t make a simple risotto!!

  6. I don’t like how they left out the fact that they thanked Ramsay immensely and even tried to give him a 30 year old bottle of wine that Ramsay said he would keep there to drink a glass of together when he came back. He also said when he walked out that he really wanted them to succeed because they deserve to.

  7. Just watched this trainwreck of a show on Youtube and I am not not surprised it closed or that the incompetant owner blamed the economy or Ramsey… the guy is your typical delusional moron, a control freak, with absolutely NO EXPERIENCE that just ‘dreamed’ of owning a restaurant. Shame on him for dragging his poor wife through absolute hell… all because he wanted to play pretend, for a few years… I hope she dumped him and found herself a real man!

  8. Wasn’t he an Executive Chef before buying the restaurant. Just a liar wanting sympathy. I feel so sorry for his disillusioned wife.

  9. I feel sorry for some of these people do any of these restaurants ever stay open? Every episode I google say Restaurant CLOSED after kitchen nightmare episode.!!! Any success story out there???? Its not easy . It takes passion, drive & commitment. But most of all GOD first.

    • God? You know, if you believe in God, you were given a brain to figure out how to make a life FOR YOURSELF. All of this God in everything reminds one of someone who couldn’t leave home to make it on their own.

    • Well it is your opinion that it takes an invisible imaginary being first. The reason these places close is because they are knee deep in debt and everyone thinks they can be successful just by being open.

  10. It’s very obvious that this couple invested their retirement money, thinking that they could just pull money from a cash cow restaurant. Who has a “dream” at 60? They pulled Ramsay into their failing business, and threw their Staff under the bus, and after a few short months sold the business after adding 10s of 1,000s of $$$$ from Chef Ramsay’s investment and WOW- did that dream disappear so quickly when it came to selling their business! Opportunists, and phony “investors” knew which side their bread was buttered on. I’m embarrassed by their con.

    • Wow, Victoria. Yeah, how *dare* they have a dream at 60 and act on it….and then screw it up by doing many ill-advised things?

      No one got ‘pulled’ into their failing business. Ramsay isn’t an idiot, nor is his production team. Nor does Ramsay invest HIS money (see link below re funding for these programs). Unless you have info on how much the owners made from the sale of Cafe 36, it’s slanderous to imply this was a con on their part. As to whether they threw their employees under the bus, you might be able to get an opinion on that from Barney. (according to this thread, he’s still around).

      It should be noted that the owners did not put themselves forward as participants on Kitchen Nightmares; their sous chef, Barney did and the owners did not agree for several months. Had they agreed sooner, who knows what the outcome might have been? Perhaps Ramsay and the Gilmer’s might have been toasting each other after all.

      Btw, who are these ‘opportunists’ and ‘phony investors’ you mention above? Or is that what you are calling the Gilmers?

      Link below on how “Nightmares” funds their renovations:

    • “Who has a “dream” at 60?”

      So basically you think when you get to a certain age, you’re no longer human or have any value. Beware your ageism now, eventually you’ll be that age too, and karma is a b*tch.

  11. I think it’s nice that chef Ramsay tried to help but the owners where the problem and you can fix up the restaurant but it’s a lot like putting lipstick on a pig it may look good but it’s still a pig people would have dinner at the local garbage dump if the food is good enough but no matter what the place looks like if the food is just ok it won’t last anyone can make ok food at home if you want my money it’s got to be great food

  12. I don’t like saying someone deserves financial ruin or anything, but the owner was a tool.
    Blaming anyone and everyone but himself for his business ultimately failing.
    Treated his worst staff like saints and idols but would bring the hammer down on his best staff for literally nothing.
    Maybe it’s just a difference in generations, but if you don’t listen to you staff you’re going to fail as a hospitality business; they’re the ones with the best idea of what customers want and don’t want, and to threaten their jobs if they’re telling you something, even if you don’t want to hear it, is a 100% guaranteed way to end up on the foreclosure list.

  13. Also, the owners had a secret history of failure. Cafes 1, 2, 3, etc. failed. Cafe 36 was their thirty-sixth try at getting it right. It was time to give up before they reached Cafe 50 or Cafe 100.

  14. Pinto looked like a con-artist who learned how to cook in prison. The people that get hired for the kitchens of these failed restaurants often look skeevy.

  15. I just wanted to compliment the writer. After reading several online, this one was far superior, so much so, that it prompted me to make a comment (something I’ve never done). Thorough, with all pertinent facts/dates, entertaining to read and easy to follow. Val so love how it is formatted visually. Thank you and Well done!

  16. Randy is not a miracle worker, but to blame him for your failure is just plain crazy. Most places were extremely disgusting and I’m kinda glad they didn’t survive. How long before they were right back in the same condition they were when Ramsey visited? I’m willing to bet that most went back to that condition in days or weeks. The health inspector department got called out for telling restaurants just when they were going to show up, guess why most restaurants got a passing score. When you know someone is coming to look you over, it’s not hard for you to be ready.

    All Ramsey does is to slam the obvious into your face and make you look at it. Most, not all, people KNOW if their restaurant is clean or dirty, they just stopped caring. Staffing problems will beat you up in no time and most won’t even bother with giving notice, they will just not come in when they have another job. Speaking from experience running a bar with an owner who wouldn’t spend any money.

    Americans do not like being told they are doing something wrong, I think most just put up with Ramsey knowing the place is going to get a free facelift and then they could sell. That explains why so many don’t exist anymore.

    • You told is exactly like it is! The likelihood of a restaurant Ramsey helps has gone up a bit for his newer shows, mostly because the ones his people chose aren’t the walking bankrupt, they are places that his help at least have a chance of resurrecting.

  17. These owners looked like they were a couple that had moved forward in time from the 1950s. They reminded me of the Leave It to Beaver or Father Knows Best.

    It did not seem like either one of them could deal with the modern world, and the young employees. It was sad, because they were nice people.

  18. Terry and Carol were so clueless there is no way they could succeed. People leave because they are tired of waiting. Those that get served send the food back. And they don’t fire Pinto? Instead Terry said he should fire the server who told him the problem was Pinto.

  19. Ramsey made the new risotto, grabbed a spoon, tasted it, and put the spoon back in the pan. It was edited JUST before the spoon hit the pan but…it was obvious.

  20. Pinto, the so called ‘Head Chef’. Why was he ever taken on?. Lazy ,rarely talked to other kitchen staff, supposedly a chef in Italy but could not cook an Italian dish. Hostile (arms folded barrier-pose) when Gordon pointed out his (many) failings. Should be black-listed permanently from working in food. Pity any poor sods who do take him on as a ‘cook’ without seeing this show.

  21. I’m very curious about Chef Barney’s final comment about Carol deserving an Academy Award for her performance. Does that mean she wasn’t the quiet, submissive wife she came off as? I did not warm to them as a couple the way Ramsey appeared to so I’d love to know what Barney meant

  22. If anyone is interested. Pinto’s real name is Anup Das. I found him on Linkedin.

    I wasn’t sure if it was the same person at first as Cafe 36 isn’t mentioned in his work experience. However, if you click on his resume…
    Cafe 36 is mentioned. So you, this is definitely Pinto.


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