(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.
Though the Cafe Tavolini Kitchen Nightmares episode aired in March 2011, the actual visit from Gordon Ramsay happened a few months earlier in late 2010.
It was Season 4 Episode 7 of Kitchen Nightmares.
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.
Gordon also doesn’t like that the chef put parsley on the plate of salmon, so Gordon blew it off the plate haha.
Gordon 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 Ramsay 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?
Now that we’ve recapped the Kitchen Nightmares Tavolini episode, let’s talk about what happened to the restaurant after Gordon Ramsay and his crew left Bridgeport, CT.
Unfortunately, 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, 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.
I’m 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, I hope that people were able to get their money back.
You can read about this event in this article from the Connecticut Post.
Is Cafe Tavolini still open after Kitchen Nightmares?
Cafe Tavolini closed in December 2011, which was just six months after the Cafe Tavolini Kitchen Nightmares episode aired on TV.
As of 2023, the old Cafe Tavolini Bridgeport, CT location is now occupied by a new restaurant called Bryac Restaurant and Raw Bar, which focuses on seafood dishes.
Reviews for the new Bryac Restaurant seem pretty good as it has a 4 star rating on its Yelp page, as well as a 4 star rating on TripAdvisor.
Here’s what the old Cafe Tavolini Connecticut location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view:
What happened to Van from Cafe Tavolini?
Van Restivo was the son of Keith and Lisa Restivo, the Cafe Tavolini owners.
Unfortunately, Van doesn’t really have an online presence so I’m not sure what happened to him after the Tavolini Kitchen Nightmares episode.
What happened to Lisa Restivo from Cafe Tavolini?
After Cafe Tavolini, Lisa opened a consignment shop in the Black Rock neighborhood of Bridgeport, CT.
The shop was named Bella Collections and she opened it with her friend Bonnie.
Sadly, the shop had to close around a year after it opened.
You can see a post about it on Patch.com.
I’m not sure what she’s been up to since then – I hope she’s doing well!
What happened to Keith Restivo from Cafe Tavolini?
Keith Restivo, one of the former Cafe Tavolini owners, is living in Norwalk, CT.
He’s listed as the owner for New England Spirits, Inc, so it appears like he owns a liquor store in Norwalk.
I believe the exact name of the shop is Warehouse Wines & Spirits.
Final thoughts on the Kitchen Nightmares Cafe Tavolini episode
Overall, Cafe Tavolini was not a Kitchen Nightmares success, as it closed just around six months after the episode aired on TV.
As of 2023, the old Cafe Tavolini Bridgeport CT location is occupied by a new seafood restaurant named Bryac.
After Cafe Tavolini closed, Lisa opened a consignment shop with a friend, but that also closed around a year later.
Keith is listed as the owner of a liquor store, so it appears that he’s gone back to his original occupation.
I’m not sure what happened to Van from Cafe Tavolini, but I hope he’s doing well.
If you want to see another Kitchen Nightmares Connecticut episode, you can also check out my Sabatiello’s update in Stamford CT.
Other nearby restaurants include Fiesta Sunrise in West Nyack NY, Handlebar in Mount Sinai NY (Long Island), and The Olde Stone Mill Steakhouse in Tuckahoe NY.
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-01-15 05:46