(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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 2023 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 2023?
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