(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 3 | View All Season 3 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: January 29, 2010
Hot Potato Cafe Address: 529 E Girard Ave Philadelphia, PA 19125
Hot Potato Cafe was a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania restaurant featured on Season 3 of Kitchen Nightmares.
Though the Hot Potato Cafe Kitchen Nightmares episode aired in January 2010, the actual visit from Gordon Ramsay happened before that in mid-2009.
It was Kitchen Nightmares Season 3 Episode 1.
In this episode, Gordon Ramsay heads to the Hot Potato Cafe in Philadelphia PA.
This marked his first visit to the City of Brotherly Love, though he would return two more times later in Season 5.
The Hot Potato restaurant is owned by a trio of sisters – Claire and Kathryn, as well as Erin, who is their sister-in-law.
The restaurant got off to a rocky start when a local food critic slammed them, calling them “Spuddy Hell”.
While the original Hot Potato Cafe food critic review is no longer available on the web, I did manage to track it down on the Wayback Machine.
Here’s an excerpt of my favorite part:
Dinner is such a disaster that the thought of lunch a few days later is unsettling.
I bring a co-worker for comfort, and together we share a crab dip served in the same style as the odd buffalo chicken.
Co-worker describes it as “crab snot,” but it’s passable nonetheless, and my fears begin to ease.
To make matters worse, the Hot Potato Cafe owners have invested their life savings into the restaurant.
That means there’s a lot riding on Gordon Ramsay and the Hot Potato Cafe Kitchen Nightmares episode.
When Gordon Ramsey set foot in the Hot Potato Café he was shocked by the lack of any kind of culinary delight in this homestyle eatery.
The food was tasteless…
I mean 3-week old potato skins that had been frozen is horror enough but there was nothing on the menu that he even likes a little bit!
The town heard Gordon was there and packed the place that night.
The service was disorganized and sloppy with the food being sub-par (I wouldn’t have fed my dogs that stuff).
This makes sense given that Danielle, the head chef, has no cooking training and no passion for the culinary space.
Danielle is the owners’ niece, which is how she got the job.
Gordon gathered them together and gave them a talking to about the way no one in the place really cared about what they were putting out.
He actually left that first night!
The owners actually followed him down the street and convinced him to come back to help their restaurant.
He relented and returned to work with them.
First up was showing the chef how to do a proper shepherd’s pie and a potato Florentine that the chef made.
The new items went over very well on the second night and the owners had a new commitment to their restaurant.
After that night, the menu was revamped and portions trimmed from their gargantuan sizes.
Gordon brought in help for the chef so she could get the help she needed to learn how to do the job right.
After working his magic, it seems like Danielle might have a bright future in the culinary space.
They opened Hot Potato Cafe for the next night with a new menu and renewed hope.
The food critic who originally trashed the restaurant is back for the relaunch; adding to the tension in the kitchen.
He gave them an excellent review after trying many of the new dishes.
If you want to read the second review from after the Gordon Ramsay visit, you can also find that review on the Wayback Machine.
When Gordon Ramsay left, he even said that the Hot Potato Kitchen Nightmares visit was one of the “most gratifying” experiences he had on the show.
That’s high praise from chef Ramsay!
So was the Kitchen Nightmares Hot Potato Cafe episode a long-term success?
Keep reading to learn what happened next and if this Philadelphia PA restaurant is still open in 2023.
Hot Potato Cafe Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Hot Potato Cafe Kitchen Nightmares episode, let’s talk about what happened to the restaurant after Gordon Ramsay and his crew left Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, soon after Gordon’s visit, Danielle left the restaurant and as a result, the quality dipped back down to the old poor standards.
Given that, you can probably guess what happened here…
Is Hot Potato Cafe still open after Kitchen Nightmares?
Hot Potato Cafe closed in August 2010, just around six months after its episode aired on Kitchen Nightmares.
At the time that Hot Potato Cafe closed, the reviews were actually pretty decent.
Most of the post-Gordon Ramsay visit reviews were three or four stars, which shows that they were doing something right.
However, it would not be enough to save the restaurant.
Why did the Hot Potato Cafe close?
The Hot Potato Cafe closed because the owners ended up putting Hot Potato Cafe up for sale on Craigslist and because the property lease was ending on August 31.
While the lease was ending on August 31, they posted the Craigslist listing on June 9 2010.
On the Hot Potato Cafe Craigslist listing, the asking price was $175,000.
Here’s the text of the listing:
50 seat BYOB in heart of Fishtown
A 50 seat BYOB Restaurant in the heart of the booming Fishtown neighborhood is available.
Recently made famous on an international reality show with Gordon Ramsay.
All furniture/newer equipment and fixtures stay with business.
Landlord is willing to negotiate new lease or sell building to new owner.
SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!
You can still see the Hot Potato Cafe Craigslist post on archive.org:
Though the Hot Potato Cafe Philly location is no more, there is still a bar/eatery in that location.
529 E Girard Ave is now occupied by Lloyd Whiskey Bar, which appears to be doing much better than Hot Potato Cafe ever did.
You can view Lloyd Whiskey Bar’s Yelp page if you’re interested in learning more about what’s going on at the original location of Hot Potato Cafe.
As of 2023, the Lloyd Whiskey Bar is still open, so it seems like this restaurant has a lot more staying power than Hot Potato Cafe.
The reviews are around 4-stars for Lloyd Whiskey Bar, which isn’t bad.
You can see the new tenant of the old Hot Potato Cafe Philadelphia location in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view:
Hot Potato Cafe reviews after Kitchen Nightmares
At the time that Hot Potato Cafe closed, it had an overall 3.5 star rating, which includes reviews from both before and after the episode.
However, as I mentioned above, the more recent reviews generally seemed to be positive, with just a couple of negative ones mixed in.
Here’s a sampling of a few reviews that were written after the Hot Potato Cafe Gordon Ramsay visit…
4 star Yep review from July 2010:
I finally got the nerve to go to Hot Potato cafe even though I’m not a huge spud fan.
I was surprised by the diversity of the menu, which gave me the option to not eat potatoes. I did have french fries twice- with the complimentary opener and with my turkey sandwich.
I thought the fries were fine, but not the best I’ve tasted. I tried to salt them at the table, but the shaker was filled with cayenne pepper.
Actually, that wasn’t a big deal to me as I love to add spice to all my food.
The sandwich portion was satisfying to me and I liked it. I wish the bacon was crispier though.
I never have dessert, but I tried their chocolate mousse cake, which is a rare treat. I don’t think I’ve had that dessert in 10 years. It was quite delicious.
The service was exceptional. I was really impressed by the speed and ease of service. The server was great and he actually said goodbye to us when we left, which was refreshing.
And the bill was reasonable for two people ($30).
I’m glad I checked it out and would go back.
1 star Yelp review from June 2010:
I really, really don’t understand the other reviews of this place lauding its cuisine. Perhaps it’s the Gordon Ramsay halo effect.
Perhaps I am too picky. Maybe I went on an off night. Irrespective of why my experience didn’t match the outrageously high rating here, I shan’t be returning.
I went here after the supposed fix from Kitchen Nightmares. I remember when the sign changed a few years ago and wondered why – now I guess I know.
Three words: Expensive. Greasy. Underwhelming.
I am not sure what they learned from Ramsay, or if they simply forgot, or if they stopped caring.
I ordered the much-lauded Shepherd’s Pie, only to receive a bowl of greasy ground meat. Stouffer’s is better and doesn’t cost $10.
My wife’s $8 baked potato tried to compensate with size what it lacked in flavor and toppings.
We’ve heard others say the fries were delicious. They weren’t. (I’ve heard the same thing about Eulogy’s and Monk’s fries too, which I also find grotesque).
The server was the nice young man who was thoroughly featured in the episode. He was pleasant and attentive.
The cafe is only a few blocks’ walk from my home – but I’ll walk the other direction to the Supermarket if I have a craving for potatoes in the future.
For the price of one baked Hot Potato, I can buy ten pounds of my own and make them at home.
4 star Yelp review from May 2010:
I’ve only ever ordered from HTP through Diningin- but I can say the following about those experiences- the food is GREAT.
I don’t know what it was like before Ramsay got ahold of the place- however, the food is really delightful now.
The food generally comes quickly (which considering it’s in Fishtown and I’m basically in Bella Vista- cheers to that)
The potato dishes are great, but so are the non -potato dishes.
Overall, I’d definitely eat here again (and possible again and again).
I need to actually get up there one of these days and see what the service is like.
What happened to Danielle from Hot Potato Cafe?
Danielle Keller was the head chef at Hot Potato Cafe.
As of 2021, she’s left the restaurant industry and is now a registered nurse working at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital system in Philadelphia.
After Hot Potato Cafe closed, Danielle did have a few jobs working as a bartender at bars like Molly Malloy’s and Tir Na Nog Bar & Grill.
But since 2017, she’s been exclusively working as a nurse.
Congratulations to her – I hope she likes the new career!
Final thoughts on the Hot Potato Cafe restaurant
Overall, Hot Potato Cafe never really seemed like it had a chance for success.
When the restaurant’s lease was ending on August 31 2010, the owners took it as a chance to get out of the restaurant.
Danielle Keller also didn’t stay in the culinary space. Though she did have a few jobs as a bartender, she’s now working as a nurse.
That wraps up my Hot Potato Cafe Kitchen Nightmares update.
And if you want to share your thoughts on the Hot Potato Cafe episode, you can use the comments section below.
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Last updated: 2023-05-17 06:33