(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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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:
2 star Yelp review from January 2014:
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.
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Last updated: 2023-07-08 09:03