(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 4 | View All Season 4 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: March 25, 2011
Cafe Tavolini Address: 3074 Fairfield Ave Bridgeport, CT 06605
Cafe Tavolini was a Bridgeport, Connecticut restaurant featured on season 4 of Kitchen Nightmares. The episode was filmed in December 2010 and aired as episode 7 of season 4 in March 2011.
Cafe Tavolini is owned by a husband and wife team, Keith and Lisa Restivo. Apparently, they bought the restaurant on a whim, with no prior experience in the hospitality industry. Keith worked in sales (wine and spirits) while Lisa was a hairdresser.
In addition to the husband and wife owners, Lisa’s son, Van, and daughter, Joli, work in the restaurant.
Somehow, the pair has managed to wrack up an astounding $350,000 in debt. I guess that’s not too surprising because the restaurant is pretty much always empty now (though Keith and Lisa tell Gordon that it used to be packed).
What’s more, the Cafe Tavolini staff aren’t exactly happy either because the couple watches them on CCTV from their home. I guess it’s natural to keep an eye on things, but it’s kind of creepy if you’re always on surveillance camera, so I can understand where the staff are coming from.
There also seem to be some marital troubles as the couple hate being at the restaurant together. Van, the son, explains that the only reason Keith is even at the restaurant is because Keith knows that Gordon Ramsay and company are coming.
Once Gordon arrives and gets the pre-meal pleasantries out of the way, things start going sour. He calls the meatballs “an insult to grandmothers” and otherwise generally hates the food.
He wants to talk to Keith about the food, but Keith already left the restaurant to go home. This jives with Gordon’s conversation with the bartender, Ricky. Ricky said that the restaurant’s biggest problem is poor management because the owners are never around.
After his own poor experience with the food, Gordon decides to see what an average dinner service is like. Because Gordon is there, the restaurant is packed for once. Gordon sees that the cooking quality is low and dishes are routinely reheated rather than cooked fresh.
Despite this, the service is still very slow and the customers have to wait far too long to get their food.
The next day, Gordon introduces some drama as he boards up the restaurant like it’s closed. I guess he was trying to drive home the point that the restaurant is going to be finished if the owners can’t get their acts together.
In the end, Gordon introduces a new family-style menu to help Cafe Tavolini differentiate itself from other restaurants in Bridgeport. He also gives the restaurant a major makeover to expand the kitchen so that the staff can speed up their service.
There were a few issues with mixed-up tickets at the relaunch, but things seemed to generally be going ok. Gordon gives some pep talks to Keith and hopes that it will be enough to turn things around.
So – did Gordon’s changes work? Keep reading for the full update of what happened after the Cafe Tavolini Kitchen Nightmares episode.
Cafe Tavolini Update - What Happened Next?
Cafe Tavolini has a very sad ending. Keith and Lisa separated soon after filming and the restaurant really had no chance. The restaurant closed for good in December, 2011.
Beyond the marital troubles, it seems the main reason for the closure is that Cafe Tavolini’s debt bill had just grown too large.
With such a large debt to start with, I don’t think Gordon really had any chance with this restaurant.
Some of the staff, notably Chef Michael Sirico, have moved on to B Line Bar & Grill.
There was some additional drama with the closure as some customers had purchased gift certificates that would no longer be honored after Cafe Tavolini closed. These issues led to a Connecticut Attorney General investigation.
We’re not sure what happened, but Keith Restivo (the owner) said that they would reimburse customers for the gift card amounts if they were unable to reopen Cafe Tavolini. Given that Cafe Tavolini remained closed, we hope that people were able to get their money back.
What happened to Cafe Tavolini after Kitchen Nightmares?
Cafe Tavolini closed in December 2011, which was just six months after the Cafe Tavolini Kitchen Nightmares episode aired. The old Cafe Tavolini location is now occupied by a new restaurant called Bryac Restaurant and Raw Bar, which focuses on seafood dishes.
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Last updated: 2021-11-26 10:16