Cafe Hon Kitchen Nightmares Update – Still Open Today?

Is Cafe Hon still open?

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

Season: 5 | View All Season 5 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: February 24, 2012
Cafe Hon Address: 1002 W 36th St Baltimore, MD 21211

Episode Recap

Cafe Hon was a Baltimore, Maryland restaurant featured on Season 5 of Kitchen Nightmares.

Though the Cafe Hon Kitchen Nightmares episode aired in February 2012, the actual filming and visit from Gordon Ramsay took place a few months earlier in November 2011.

It was Season 5 Episode 13.

This episode of Kitchen Nightmares is a lesson about how much harm can one person do to his own business while being blinded by their cult of personality or by their greediness.

Cafe Hon is a restaurant located in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore.

Note – the name is spelled Cafe Hon, and not Cafe Hun.

It opened all the way back in 1992 and has since been a local trademark for serving good American comfort food.

Denise Whiting Cafe Hon owner

Denise Whiting is the Cafe Hon owner and has put a lot of effort into keeping it successful.

That much effort and desire to make a profit that she actually trademarked the word Hon and took ownership of it, so that no one else can do anything with the actual word without her permission.

This is the part of story where Gordon Ramsay comes along in an attempt to save the business.

“Hon” is traditionally a very important and valuable term for the local community since it is usually used as a kind, familiar way of addressing someone.

Once Denise decided to steal this from the locals, chaos came into her life.

People stopped eating at Cafe Hon, the media and the community engaged in a lot of adversity towards Denise’s actions, practically there began a war between one business woman and the city.

Gordon Ramsay talking at Cafe Hon

No one liked Denise anymore, not even her staff.

She made all the wrong decisions in the management of the restaurant and got to the point where all her money were being put in a falling business.

In the episode, Ramsay first gets an idea of what is happening from the media and the staff.

He goes to the restaurant and meets the main characters of the story, gets a taste of the menu at Cafe Hun and decides the dishes are disappointing, and also observes the kitchen working on a busy evening.

In terms of food, Gordon sampled the English Fish and Chips, the meatloaf, and some other dishes.

Here’s a picture of him “enjoying” the big piece of fried fish in the Fish and Chips:

Gordon Ramsay eating at Cafe Hon

Everything is a mess, Denise is the center of all the problems, so the following day Ramsay gathers all the personnel to let them talk about all their complaints concerning their boss.

Denise gets a really cold shower from everyone and becomes more aware of what is actually the issue in her business.

Next, on the way to save Cafe Hon, Ramsay meets some local representatives to talk about the Hon trademark and how Denise’s actions affected the local community and its pride.

Denise listens to the entire conversation and is amazed by what people actually think of her.

She is humbled and decides to do the right thing.

So, after Ramsay redecorates and redesigns the entire menu for Cafe Hun, they both go to the local radio.

On air, Denise officially apologizes to everyone for having made such a terrible mistake with the Hon trademark.

She also announces that she will cancel the trademark.

Denise Whiting on radio Cafe Hon

This is actually confirmed later in November 2011 on her Facebook page.

With a revamped menu and better relationships with the community, Gordon Ramsay hopes that Cafe Hon can survive long into the future.

So was the Cafe Hon episode a success after Gordon Ramsay implemented his changes and Denise gave up the “hon” trademark? 

Keep reading to learn what happened next and if this Baltimore restaurant is still open today.

Cafe Hon Update - What Happened Next?

Now that we’ve recapped the Cafe Hon Kitchen Nightmares episode, let’s talk about what happened to the restaurant after Gordon Ramsay and his crew left Baltimore.

First off, Denise didn’t keep all of Gordon’s changes, as she did make some changes to his menu.

This includes changes to the crab cakes.

Despite that, Cafe Hon was still doing quite well.

Cafe Hon Kitchen Nightmares Revisited Episode

After the first episode aired, Gordon Ramsay revisited the restaurant in May 2012 as part of Season 6 Revisited No. 8.

In the second Cafe Hon Gordon Ramsay visit, it seems like the restaurant had been able to move past a lot of the bad press over the “hon” trademark.

Here’s a video of the Cafe Hon revisit – it starts at around 2 minutes in the video:

About a year later in May 2013, Cafe Hon further redecorated and renovated the restaurant.

Is Cafe Hon still open after Kitchen Nightmares?

Cafe Hon closed on April 29, 2022, which means it survived for a full decade after the Kitchen Nightmares episode aired on TV.

The restaurant closed because Denise Whiting wanted to move on with her life, perhaps into a more retirement-like lifestyle.

In an interview with Baltimore Magazine, she had this to say:

It’s something that’s been in the works for a long time.

I’m 63, and it’s time for me to look into doing a little something different.

When I started, I never imagined it would last this long.

But I really feel like I’m on a path, and this is the next thing.

I’ve always known that when the time was right, the opportunity would present itself.

The restaurant was sold to Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group, which will transform Cafe Hon into a new concept and name.

As of my most recent check in early 2024, the old Cafe Hon Baltimore MD location seems to still be vacant.

I can’t find any details about a new business moving in.

In the most recent Google Maps street view update for the Cafe Hon Baltimore address, you can see that the location’s windows have been papered over:

When I know anything about a new tenant moving in, I will update this post.

If you’re a Baltimore local and you know what’s happening at that location, please let me know in the comments section below.

Why did Cafe Hon close?

Cafe Hon closed because Denise Whiting, the owner, wanted to retire.

As a business, the restaurant seemed to still be doing quite well, as evidenced by the fact that it survived for more than a decade after the Gordon Ramsay Cafe Hon visit.

Cafe Hon reviews after Kitchen Nightmares

Overall, Cafe Hon had just a 2.5 star rating on Yelp and a 4.0 star rating on Google Reviews.

While that sounds bad, recent reviews from 2020 on were much more positive, most likely because the restaurant had shed much of the bad will about the “hon” trademark.

Here’s a sampling of some of the reviews that were written long after the Cafe Hon Kitchen Nightmares episode.

3 star Yelp review from December 2021:

So the crab dip was frickin delish.

Good quality crab, sweet, chunky, not too much cream cheese or mayo.

The fritz sandwich was okay.

Good bacon, but chicken salad was nothing special.

Tasted fresh at least.

The fries are skinny. Pretty good fries.

The special sauce wasn’t well balanced.

Too flavorful, I think too much lemon and garlic.

Made me kinda sick.

The honey mustard my girlfriend loved but somehow I thought it tasted like sherbet lol.

Anyways, would come back for the crab dip and try some other entrees.

4 star Yelp review from June 2021;

My group went for brunch at Cafe Hon.

We were seated and served quickly (and a party of 8-10).

I will need to have another visit – I had no greeting from Elvis and perhaps afternoon service is different than morning.

The food was good.

Just being on The Avenue makes me happy!

5 star Yelp review from February 2021:

Love Sunday Brunch at Cafe Hon.

Old World charm, earthy and not trying too hard to be something it isn’t.

Owner Denise, does a good job with the menu.

I like all the egg dishes.

5 star Yelp review from November 2020:

Very nice people, it’s a cozy nice place with good food.

I don’t know why people rated this place low.

Highly recommend.

What happened to Denise Whiting from Cafe Hon?

Denise Whiting Cafe Hon owner

Denise Whiting closed Cafe Hon because she wanted to retire.

I’m not sure whether she’s staying in Baltimore or moving somewhere else.

I believe she’s still in Baltimore because she does seem to still be running HonFest, even though the restaurant itself is closed.

For example, there was still a HonFest 2023 in June 2023, even though Cafe Hon has been closed for over a year at this point.

HonFest 2023

Denise also still seems to regularly post on the Cafe Hon Facebook page even after closing the restaurant.

Either way, I wish Denise the best.

Final thoughts on Cafe Hon

Overall, while this one will technically go on Gordon Ramsay’s closed list, I really don’t think you can call it a failure by any means.

Denise kept Cafe Hon open for 30 years – three full decades.

That’s far longer than most restaurants get.

Additionally, Cafe Hon survived for a full decade after Gordon Ramsay’s visit and didn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.

Denise just wanted to move on with her life after 30 years, and that’s no one’s “failure”.

As of my most recent check, the old Cafe Hon location remains vacant.

That wraps up my Cafe Hon Kitchen Nightmares update.

Cafe Hon was the only Kitchen Nightmares Baltimore episode (and the only Maryland episode in general).

If you want to see some other nearby restaurants, the closest ones are in Philadelphia.

Those are Chiarella’s from Season 5, Zocalo from Season 5, and Hot Potato Cafe from Season 3.

Read more Kitchen Nightmares updates:

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Last updated: 2024-03-09 05:18

16 thoughts on “Cafe Hon Kitchen Nightmares Update – Still Open Today?”

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

  1. But toast cold the whole meal was
    Delayed because bacon wasn’t don
    Do when it all finally arrived
    Everything was cold !
    No response for our complaint
    There was a 20% gratuity added
    Some nerve , I tip based on service
    This place is a dump
    Take a hike

  2. Pink flamingo……for gays, misgended loons, and fat old white biddies…..they may as well say straight people and coloureds not welcome here!

  3. I agree, the copyright situation was also strange to me. It didn’t seem like she really thought she needed to copyright “hon” to protect her brand. It did seem like she wanted to annoy/p*ss the other townies off and succeeded. A successful troll, as the kids says!

    • She was wanted to market a new brand of strap-on bilbos to go with the Hobbit movies. She was going to call them “Hons” in honor of her community.

    • Just plain vile and evil. Everything was all about her. The rest of the staff, customers, and even Ramsay existed only to serve her ego.

  4. As a townie, my family used to frequent her restaurant a lot. The crab cake sandwich was the best thing on that menu. Then, Denise did something incredibly stupid and trademarked ‘hon’ which everyone in the community used endearingly in an effort to control it and profit off it. They stopped going, my family stopped going. Had she not done what she did, she would have made a small fortune and maybe franchise out to another location.

    When GR came to town of course we all wanted to come down, and possibly be on TV or get an autograph. My friends and I were there but, didn’t make the TV cut nor meet Chef Ramsey. The food was good, I really loved the new fish n chips but his changes to the crab cake on the menu were not that well accepted. Maryland wants huge chunks of crab in their cake but his was a bit more bread than we are accustomed to. She changed that.

    Denise though, she learned her lesson as far as lessening her ego. She did and giving back the trademark was instrumental in regaining that trust that she broke, but she never really regained the trust of the entire city and those within my family. We found other places to go, although I would go occasionally by myself. I’ve been living in NC for some years now and learning that she’s retiring. I wish her the best in life and luck and I hope she continues to grow from her experiences on KN.


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