Spanish Pavillion Kitchen Nightmares Update – Still Open in 2023?

Is Spanish Pavillion still open?

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

Season: 4 | View All Season 4 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: January 21, 2011
Spanish Pavillion Address: 31 Harrison Ave Harrison, New Jersey 07029

Episode Recap

Spanish Pavillion was a Harrison, New Jersey restaurant featured on season 4 of Kitchen Nightmares.

Though the Spanish Pavillion Kitchen Nightmares episode aired on January 21, 2011, the actual filming and Gordon Ramsay’s visit took place in November 2010.

It was Kitchen Nightmares Season 4 Episode 1.

In this episode, Gordon Ramsay heads to Spanish Pavillion in Harrison, New Jersey.

Note – the restaurant is spelled with two L’s – Spanish Pavillion. However, you’ll also see some people spell it with one L – e.g. Spanish Pavilion.

Spanish Pavillion was opened by Antonio Fernandez in 1976, which means it’s been around for over three decades at the time of the Kitchen Nightmares Spanish Pavilion episode.

After Antonio retired in 1996, he left the restaurant to his daughter, Balbina, and grandsons, Michael and Jerry.

Balbina Spanish Pavillion owner on Kitchen Nightmares

Jerry works in the front of the restaurant while Michael is a chef (though Michael is rarely in the kitchen anymore).

However, after Antonio stepped down and left it to his family, the restaurant began to experience issues.

One of the biggest reasons why the restaurant is struggling is simply because customers do not like the food.

Antonio’s daughter and grandsons have also shown lack of interest in the business.

Jerry Spanish Pavillion owner on Kitchen Nightmares

In fact, they’re rarely around, which explains how the standards have dropped.

Michael and Jerry also don’t get a long great, with both accusing the others of not doing a good job.

To make matters worse the restaurant is now in a whopping $550,000 of debt.

With that much debt to pay off, Spanish Pavillion definitely needs some expert help from Gordon Ramsay.

Michael Spanish Pavillion owner on Kitchen Nightmares

Soon after Gordon Ramsay arrives at the restaurant, he decides to sample the food.

He orders lobster bisque, chicken and garlic and paella main course.

According to Chef Ramsay, the lobster was not fresh and it looked like it had been dead for a while before it was actually cooked.

Upon enquiring with the restaurant owners, he is informed that the lobster came straight from the tank.

Nonetheless, Gordon decides to take a look at the tank and he is surprised to find dead lobsters inside that are already decaying.


The risky thing about having dead lobster in the tank is that live lobsters will eat the dead lobsters and get infected and the restaurant will continue to serve infected meat.

Dead lobster at Spanish Pavillion

Before pulling out the lobster and verifying that it was dead, Jerry said that it was just “sleeping” lol.

Michael also says that the lobster is “still fresh” even though it died. That deserves another lol.

After the awful incident with the lobster, Gordon is hoping to have something better in the next course.

When the chicken and garlic dish arrives, it has excessive oil and the chicken looks dry.

To add salt to the injury, the paella arrives overcooked and over seasoned.

Apparently, the head chef in the restaurant does not taste the meals before serving and hence he does not know if the food being served to customer is well cooked.

Not a great start to the visit! But hey, it is Kitchen Nightmares, after all.

Gordon decides to finally observe a dinner service.

At the same time, Michael is behind the bar.

According to Gordon’s observation, the food is sold quickly but it is also returned to the kitchen just as fast.

When Michael and his brother try to rectify the issue they argue.

Eventually the cook, Al, is pushed out and reprimanded.

The next morning, Gordon decides to take a look around the restaurant and the kitchen areas.

He is surprised to find multiple buckets full of shellfish in the freezer without dates on.

The fridge is full of dead lobsters and the walking area has a large amount of meat.

Spanish Pavillion freezer

The condition of the kitchen is made worse by the presence of rogue pigeon flying around.

A friggin’ pigeon flying around the kitchen! C’mon now…

When Gordon finally confronts Michael about the condition of the kitchen, Michael claims he is overwhelmed.

Finally, Gordon offers to teach Michael how to make a chicken dish.

At the same time, Michael makes an octopus.

Both dishes are served as the specials for the evening service.

The customers love the new dish despite Michael’s hesitation at first.

Nonetheless, the evening does not go without a hiccup as one chicken is returned as it is spoiled.

Jerry responds to the issue quickly and service continues.

Gordon acknowledges that there has been a control issue in the restaurant and is happy to see how Jerry is able to deal with issues in the restaurant.

When the service is over, the restaurant is given a makeover.

New china and furniture is brought in to the restaurant.

Tapas dishes are also introduced as part of a new menu.

Gordon Ramsay leaves Spanish Pavillion

The brothers are impressed with the results and this makes the restaurant stand out.

So – was the Spanish Pavillion Kitchen Nightmares episode a long-term success?

Keep reading to learn what happened next and if this Harrison, New Jersey restaurant is still open in 2024.

Spanish Pavillion Update - What Happened Next?

Now that we’ve recapped the Kitchen Nightmares Spanish Pavillion episode, let’s talk about what happened after Gordon Ramsay and his crew left Harrison, New Jersey.

At the end of the episode, we learn that Jerry has embraced his role as expediter and is spending more time around the restaurant.

Michael is also working better in the kitchen and spending more time at the restaurant.

Here are some other important details that you didn’t see at the end of the episode…

Spanish Pavillion Gordon Ramsay revisit in Season 5

First off, Gordon Ramsay revisited the Spanish Pavillion New Jersey location for a second time as part of a Season 5 Revisited No. 7 episode.

This is the same episode where Gordon revisited Kingston Cafe in Pasadena CA, Capri in Los Angeles, and La Frite in Los Angeles.

I’m not sure why Spanish Pavillion got lumped in with all the other west coast restaurants.

Maybe they couldn’t fit Spanish Pavillion in the earlier Revisited No. 6 episode from Season 5, which is where Gordon revisited some other east coast restaurants.

In the Spanish Pavillion Kitchen Nightmares revisit, Gordon Ramsay snuck into the kitchen and found it clean when checking around.

According to Jerry, business is good at Spanish Pavillion.

However, Michael is no longer a part of the restaurant.

Jerry says that Michael is working in a management training program at a chain restaurant.

Gordon asks Jerry if he fired Michael, but Jerry says that he didn’t fire him and Michael is always welcome back at the restaurant.

Additionally, he’s saddened to say that his grandfather has since passed away (the original founder of the restaurant).

I’ve embedded the video below – the Spanish Pavillion revisit part starts at around 8:31:

Is the Spanish Pavillion still open?

As of 2023, the Spanish Pavillion is still open and serving customers in the original Harrison, New Jersey location that you saw on the show.

The restaurant is averaging a 3.5 star rating on Yelp, which is good but not great. I’ll share some real examples of Spanish Pavillion reviews below.

The restaurant is also very active on social media, regularly posting about events and specials.

While not sensational, it’s good to see that this place is doing well enough to survive in the competitive restaurant industry.

In addition to the indoor restaurant that you saw on the episode, they seem to have built an outdoor patio area that hosts a lot of live music.

It even seems to have its own name – “El Patio – Spanish Pavillion Garden”.

El Patio Spanish Pavillion

It’s cool to see the restaurant be able to expand and ditch the stodgy old tuxedo vibe.

Here’s what the Spanish Pavillion New Jersey location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view:

Brennan Taylor visited Spanish Pavillion in 2022 (includes a Joe interview)

If you want to see a more recent visit to the restaurant than the second Spanish Pavillion Gordon Ramsay visit, popular YouTuber Brennen Taylor also visited Spanish Pavillion in 2022.

He’s visited a number of restaurants from Kitchen Nightmares (as well as some hotels from Hotel Hell).

The video includes Brennen sampling the food, as well as an interview with Joe, who still works at the restaurant.

In the interview, Joe says that he’s now been working at the restaurant for 36 years.

I’ve embedded the video below – the interview with Joe starts around a minute in.

Joe shares a bunch of details, including that Jerry and Michael played up their fighting for the show.

Joe also says that Jerry is no longer working as a politician and Balbina has moved down to Florida.

Spanish Pavillion reviews after Kitchen Nightmares

As I mentioned above, the Spanish Pavillion has an overall 3.5 star rating on 200+ Yelp reviews.

Things are a little better on Google, where it has a 4.4 star rating on 1,100+ Google reviews.

One common complaint seems to be the paella, as a lot of people have complained about it.

However, the other dishes seem to be well-received.

Overall, it just generally seems to be “ok”, rather than “amazing” or “terrible”.

To give you an idea of how the restaurant is doing, here’s a sampling of a few reviews that were written after the Spanish Pavillion Gordon Ramsay visit…

3 star Yelp review from June 2011:

I’d give this place 2.5 stars.

I went here because I purchased a Groupon.

I had also seen it on Kitchen Nightmares.
For an appetizer we ordered the chickpea salad which tasted more indian than spanish and the olives with cheese.

The waiter brought out bread with butter and I asked for a small side of olive oil to dip the bread in.

The wine is super CHEAP, which is a plus and they have a huge selection of inexpensive wines.

For entrees I got the Salman with vegetables.

The salmon had too much garlic and tasted more like ‘make it home’ than a restaurant.

My date got the chicken with lemon, which was terrible.

The chicken was on the bone (this was not stated on the menu), it was DRENCHED in oil and the chicken was a low grade dark meat. He wasn’t too pleased.

Service was decent, however the food left a lot to be desiered.

I probably wouldn’t go back unless I had another groupon.

4 star Yelp review from October 2018:

Spanish Pavillion review

2 star Yelp review from January 2014:

Spanish Pavillion review

What happened to Michael from Spanish Pavillion?

Jerry said that Michael was no longer involved with Spanish Pavillion in the Spanish Pavillion Kitchen Nightmares revisited episode (airing in 2012).

However, I did find a 2014 Yelp review response from the owners that said that Michael was back at the restaurant.

I also found a 2020 post on their Facebook page where Michael explains the restaurant’s Covid-19 policy, so it seems like he’s still involved.

I also found some other news articles that show he’s still involved.

So – while Michael may have stepped away from Spanish Pavillion for a time, he seems to now be back working at the restaurant.

What happened to Jerry from Spanish Pavillion?

Jerry Fernandez also seems to still be working at the Spanish Pavillion as of 2023.

As with Michael, I found multiple Facebook posts referencing Jerry still being involved with the business.

Additionally, Jerry seems to no longer be involved with local politics, at least according to the 2022 interview with Joe.

What happened to Balbina from Spanish Pavillion?

According to a comment from Joe in 2022 and Jerry in 2012, Balbina has retired and moved down to Florida.

She no longer seems to have any involvement with the restaurant (beyond her ownership).

Final thoughts on Spanish Pavillion

Overall, Spanish Pavillion seems to be a real Kitchen Nightmares success story.

It’s been well over a decade since the Gordon Ramsay Spanish Pavillion visit and the restaurant is still going strong at the Spanish Pavillion New Jersey location.

It’s also still under the same ownership, with both Michael and Jerry still running the restaurant (though Balbina retired down to Florida).

I wish them the best and hopefully Spanish Pavillion can keep it up for another decade (or more!).

That wraps up my Spanish Pavillion Kitchen Nightmares update.

If you want to see some other nearby New Jersey Kitchen Nightmare episodes, you can also check out my updates for Campania in Fair Lawn NJ, Blackberry’s in Plainfield NJ, Grasshopper Also in Carlstadt NJ, and Leone’s in Montclair NJ.

And if you want to share your thoughts on the Spanish Pavillion episode, you can do so using the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

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Last updated: 2023-07-08 09:03

24 thoughts on “Spanish Pavillion Kitchen Nightmares Update – Still Open in 2023?”

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

  1. Spanish pavilion is a few blocks from where I live and I’ve only been there once. The food was terrible. If locals don’t go, that’s tells you all you need to know.

  2. I would certainly hope that when I eat a lobster, it is dead rather than alive. If it is still alive it could clench its claws in my stomach and cause great damage.

    • Please tell me you are a troll and not that ignorant. You want the Lobster alive until it’s about to be cooked for you. No one wants a 4 day old deceased lobster cooked for them full of bacteria and God knows what else. I hope you are not that stupid.

      • Neither. This like my other comments are meant to be humorous, but and indeed because they are to be taken literally. Your comment confirms this: “You want the Lobster alive until it’s about to be cooked for you.” Until. The lobster is then cooked and it is served no longer alive. As I wrote, eating a lobster that is still alive could be hazardous. I described the hazard in what I thought was funny terms (positing the lobster clenching it’s claws), with apparently too subtle humor.

        Seriously, this and the Black Pearl episode teach, crappy restaurant owners should not try to serve lobster.

        • Worse than being ‘tr0ll’ or ‘ignorant’, it is the inability to read irony and sarcasm, thus trying to justify the argument and stating the obvious. It is just too funy!

  3. I hate this episode with all my strength, because I am from Spain and I can’t stand to see people from my country being ridiculous abroad. What a shame.

      • This is true. Although well, if in those places they tolerate that (because it only happens in certain places in the country) is because certainly the economic benefit outweighs the shame of having some drunken guys jumping from a balcony. For example, where I live, many British people also come here for cultural, scenic and gastronomic tourism. Obviously not everyone is the same. In every country there are good and bad people. What happens to me with this episode is that I am simply ashamed, both for the behavior of the people in the restaurant and for the way in which they give a bad image abroad of a gastronomy that I think is very good.

    • Not joking here, from all I have read and heard Spanish cuisine is outstanding, so you have a right to be proud about it and disdain the episode. One regret in life is that I didn’t go ashore to Barcelona and visit one of its restaurants when I was at a business meeting with my company held on a cruise departing from that fine Catalan city.

      • Barcelona is certainly not a bad place to eat. Or at least it wasn’t in the past. I was there years ago and ate very well, I don’t know if it’s still the same today.

    • One of the worst things in this KN and any other American KN in general is adding subtitles when it is a foreigner person speaking in English, as if it wasn’t understandable enough… I don’t know whether it is offensive or just ridiculous…

  4. “Overall, Spanish Pavillion seems to be a real Kitchen Nightmares success story.”

    Overall, Spanish Pavillion seems to be a Kitchen Nightmares Fake-Story. Joe is, after all, pretty clear in this Yotube-interview you embedded: the drama in the episode was actually completely staged, from the alleged fight between the brothers to the dead lobster in the aquarium (according to Joe, he had discovered and removed it in the morning, and then the production team put it back for the camera). The lobster in the sauce was also fake. The pigeons were a real problem, because the restaurant fed them, they became bolder and bolder, according to Joe.

    That the first service Ramsay oversees is basically staged by the production and “guests” are encouraged to complain a lot and have food returned should be aware of every viewer of the program anyway – which does not mean that the restaurants do not have real quality problems in the majority.

    In fact, according to Joe, the restaurant never really had problems either. The whole thing was a PR stunt by Michael, who ultimately saw the participation as good publicity for a restaurant in 3rd generation – true to the motto “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. Well, reality seems to prove the claim right, after all, more than ten years later, the Spanish Pavillon is still going strong. In my opinion, Joe’s statements are quite credible.

    • I think that’s pretty standard reality TV producing and a big part of where reality gets blurred.

      E.g. There was a dead lobster in the tank, so it’s not totally fake to have that scene. But at the same time, the producers have manipulated it so that it’s not totally real, either.

      The producers always encourage the guests to complain on any show like this, so you’re never getting a 100% authentic look at the dining experience, either.

      Always good to remember that it’s a TV show for entertainment and not a documentary.

      My guess is that this is also similar to what happened with the dead mouse at Blackberry’s. There probably was a dead mouse at the restaurant, but the producers might have manipulated things in terms of the placement of the mouse right at the door.

      • That is why KN UK is better as seems more in the documentary style rather than the drama and the far fetched events adding up the annoying tension music. It seems that it is the pathetically dramatic what sells across the pond!

    • All of the US KN episodes are staged to some degree.

      There is no real service, and the ‘customers’ are paid to be there by the production. Arguments are played up for the camera, various things are shot for “entertainment purposes” and more.

      KN is a TV show first and foremost. It is about making entertaining viewing. Saving restaurants has pretty much nothing to do with it, which is why so many close.

  5. My real question is: we know that the dead lobster was replaced after being removed, but if it was rotting and smelt rancid, then how long had it been there?!

    I also don’t believe that all the arguments were fake. Played up? Absolutely, it’s a TV show, but fake? No. Siblings generally get on each other’s nerves without meaning to, hell I do with my sister (and vice versa) all the time when we spend too much time together.

    My final comment is: Joe has worked there for 36 years and has been the manager for at least 11 or more. He has almost as much as the owners to lose (when it comes to face) if the restaurant is viewed pessimistically. He most likely would exaggerate some of the played-up aspects of the TV show.

    Gordon may not have known that the pigeons were so bold that they would fly in the open door, there damn well could have been a dead lobster in the sauce, and some of the best restaurants I know have sent out dry, raw or overly gross food out for customer consumption without the added pressure of being watched by one of the modern-day cooking gods.

    I guess I just find it hard to believe that, per what Joe claims, the restaurant was doing great before Ramsay’s visit, so what if they mostly wanted just the upgrade and local promotions? There were still problems with the walk-in storage and freezers, lack of labelling and dating. Poor communication ect.

    P.S. A couple of people who worked on the show short-term have said 90-95% of what we see is real, just touched up by a little editing and acting (I didn’t want to use the term played-up again lol) and that seems most likely to me. It won’t be entirely real (TV show anyone?) but it is highly unlikely to be as fake as some people like to claim…

    • “My real question is: we know that the dead lobster was replaced after being removed, but if it was rotting and smelt rancid, then how long had it been there?!”

      How do you know it smelt rancid?
      All you have is Gordon saying that, but he is part of the show. He lies to make the episodes more entertaining.

      “I guess I just find it hard to believe that, per what Joe claims, the restaurant was doing great before Ramsay’s visit, so what if they mostly wanted just the upgrade and local promotions? There were still problems with the walk-in storage and freezers, lack of labelling and dating. Poor communication ect.”

      Again, staged for TV.
      You didn’t see the walk-in fridges before KN got there. All you have is what the production wants you to see.


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