(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 4 | View All Season 4 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: May 13, 2011
Zeke’s Restaurant Address: 1517 Metairie Rd Metairie, Louisiana 70005
Zeke’s Restaurant was a Metairie, New Orleans, Louisiana restaurant featured on Season 4 of Kitchen Nightmares.
Though the Zeke’s Kitchen Nightmares episode aired in May 2011, the actual filming and visit from Gordon Ramsay took place at the beginning of 2011
It was Kitchen Nightmares Season 4 Episode 13.
In this episode, Gordon Ramsay heads to Zeke’s Restaurant in Metairie, Louisiana, AKA New Orleans.
The restaurant was originally started by James Unangst ‘Zeke’ in 2002 and was popular for its seafood and other creole dishes.
However, Zeke sadly died soon after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the restaurant was taken over by Darryl and Ellen Cortello.
In 2011, the Kitchen Nightmares Zeke’s restaurant episode showed a visit of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to the restaurant as he reviewed the food available and tried to fix the problems faced by the restaurant.
Though, like Zeke, Ellen Cortello, greeted the customers, many of the customers were not very happy as the prices had increased.
To make that price increase harder to stomach, the food quality had worsened and the quantity of food served had been reduced.
According to the staff, the owners were only interested in making money and not in keeping the customers satisfied.
When chef Gordon Ramsay visits Zeke’s restaurant, he orders boiled shrimp, oysters , bread pudding and fried chicken steak.
When he digs into the food he finds that the shrimp is frozen, and the oysters, fried chicken are tasteless.
He is surprised that they named the oysters after the Zeke’s restaurant owner because Gordon said he wouldn’t even name them after his worst enemy.
Lol – Gordon always has to get some zingers in when he’s eating the food.
However he is happy with the bread pudding, which is tasty and well made.
This is one of the few times he liked the food on Kitchen Nightmares, though it was only one dish.
When goes to the kitchen, the chef Emil mentions that the owners want to reduce the cost of the meat items, so quality meat is not procured.
Frozen shrimp is used, because the owner Darryl does not have the time to visit the market and purchase fresh shrimp daily.
That’s crazy because fresh shrimp should be a key part of any New Orleans restaurant, in my opinion at least.
The food is sometimes not heated before being served and the lasagna is stale.
In the team meeting, the staff is upset at the quality of the food and wages.
However the owners say that the restaurant is not making a profit.
Because they are paying staff out of their own pocket, they believe that anyone who is not happy working there can leave.
Not a very friendly response from the owners of Zeke’s!
I get that money is tight, but you still need to take care of your staff if you want to be succesful.
Based on the suggestions from chef Gordon Ramsay, the restaurant has a makeover with a new area for fresh shellfish.
Gordon Ramsay also added new items on the menu like a bucket of catfish, shrimp and alligator which does not require much preparation.
Chef Gordon encourages the servers to promote the seafood bucket to the customers, as it will reduce the workload of the kitchen staff.
As there are a lot of orders, the rest of the menu which is handled by Darryl.
However, Darryl is more interested in having the dishes served to the customer as fast as possible.
As a result, some of the dishes aren’t perfect.
Eventually, Gordon Ramsay seemed to get through to Darryl and Ellen Cortello and it was time for the relaunch.
Disgruntled customers, were invited to the restaurant makeover, and these customers are now satisfied with the revamped food and menu.
The relaunch was also covered by the local news channels and things seemed to be looking up for the restaurant.
So was the Kitchen Nightmares Zeke’s Restaurant episode a success?
Keep reading our update to learn what happened next and if this New Orleans restaurant is still open in 2023 and beyond.
Zeke’s Restaurant Update - What Happened Next?
Now that we’ve recapped the Zeke’s Kitchen Nightmares episode, let’s talk about what happened to Zeke’s Restaurant after Gordon Ramsay and his crew left New Orleans, LA.
In the next few weeks, the number of customers at Zeke’s restaurant increased and the staff was also happier.
However, it would not last for very long.
Is Zeke’s still open after Kitchen Nightmares?
Zeke’s Restaurant closed in October 2012, which is nearly two years after the visit from Gordon Ramsay, though only 16 months after the Zeke’s Kitchen Nightmares episode aired on TV.
Why did Zeke’s Restaurant close?
Zeke’s Restaurant closed because Darryl and Ellen Cortello sold the restaurant to new owners.
The new Zeke’s owners no longer wanted to use the Zeke’s Restaurant concept for that location, so they closed it after purchasing the restaurant.
At the same address, the new owners who purchased the Zeke’s restaurant location started a new restaurant named Porter & Luke’s, with an experienced chef Vincent Manguano.
Porter & Luke’s is open for lunch and dinner, and has a moderately priced menu featuring fish, chicken, seafood.
The owners describe it as offering “Metairie Creole & Italian Food”.
So those who come to Metairie looking for Zeke’s restaurant featured in Kitchen Nightmares can check out Porter & Luke’s instead.
As of 2023, Porter & Luke’s is still open at the old Zeke’s Restaurant New Orleans location.
However, the reviews are pretty mediocre now, as it has just a 3.5 star rating according to its Yelp page.
Here’s what the old Zeke’s New Orleans location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view – you can see the big Porter & Luke’s sign:
Zeke’s restaurant reviews after Kitchen Nightmares
At the time that the Zeke’s restaurant New Orleans property was sold to new owners, the restaurant had a solid 3.5 star rating on 28 Yelp reviews.
That rating includes reviews from both before and after the Zeke’s Gordon Ramsay visit.
Overall, reviews from after the episode seemed to be pretty positive – or at least middle of the road.
Even the “bad” reviews were usually three stars, rather than one star.
Here’s a sampling of a few Zeke’s restaurant reviews that were written after the visit from Gordon Ramsay…
5 star Yelp review from February 2012:
Visited here last year right after their relaunch on Kitchen Nightmares and it was awesome!!!
The lobster bisque was to DIE FOR!!
I just recently visited here again a year later on a return business trip and it’s still awesome!
Food is great, service is great, friendly staff, knowledgable about the food & just an all around great experience.
The only sad note is the lobster bisque was replaced with soup of the day:((
it was still great but that lobster bisque was legendary.
I couldn’t wait to visit here again just to have it so I was disappointed but will stop by whenever in the neighborhood.
Its not cheap food so you pay for it but its well worth it.
3 star Yelp review from February 2012:
I knew from the reviews that I shouldn’t expect much from this place, but, truth be told, my inexplicable and debilitating crush on Chef Gordon Ramsay meant that really nothing could keep me from eventually checking this place out.
The menu was extremely and lamely limited to stereotypical and touristy New Orleans cuisine.
We received two very very very small triangles of corn bread that tasted like they had been baked at least the day before, if not earlier.
The only word that comes to mind is “pitiful.”
The highlight of our meal was definitely the fried green tomatoes.
The remoulade was KICK ASS.
The crab and corn bisque was also sinfully good.
I got the special, tuna steak, that tasted as if it hadn’t been seasoned at all. Yuck-o.
My side of drunk cabbage was phenomenal though.
The mac & cheese was good but not worth the fat/calorie sacrifice.
Ky got the pork chops – a massive, gravy-fied meal.
He didn’t like the cabbage, though, so that was a total score for me.
They also had $2 martinis, but the one I has was tee-tiny and disgustingly briny. Not worth it at all.
Finally, here’s a screenshot of a rather lengthy three star Yelp review from March 2012:
What happened to Darryl and Ellen Cortello?
Though Zeke’s Restaurant has closed, Darryl and Ellen Cortello seem to be doing well.
Darryl is now working in life coaching and consulting according to his LinkedIn page.
Additionally, Darryl and Ellen Cortello opened a new restaurant called Luca Eats which is also located in South Carrolton Avenue, New Orleans.
As of 2023, the restaurant is still open, with a stellar 4.5 star rating according to its Yelp page.
So it seems like, while Darryl and Ellen weren’t able to make Zeke’s Restaurant work, they do have the knowledge and ability to run a successful restaurant. Congratulations to them!
Here’s what the Luca Eats property looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view – it’s a lot smaller than the Zeke’s Metairie propery:
Finally, let’s address whether or not the Zek’s owners are still alive.
For some reason, there are people searching who think the Zeke’s Restaurant owner dies.
While the original Zeke’s owner did pass away in 2006, Darryl and Ellen Cortello are still very much alive.
What happened to Emil from Zeke’s Restaurant?
Emil was one of the cooks/kitchen manager from Zeke’s Restaurant.
According to Emil’s LinkedIn page, he’s working as the manager at Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts.
However, I’m not sure if that’s his most recent job as he doesn’t seem to update it very often?
If you want to connect with Emil from Zeke’s Restaurant, you can follow him on Instagram.
Final thoughts on Zeke’s Restaurant
Zeke’s Restaurant seemed to be doing OK after Kitchen Nightmares.
However, it closed around two years after the Zeke’s Kitchen Nightmares visit because Darryl and Ellen Cortello sold it to new owners.
As of 2023, the old Zeke’s New Orleans LA location is occupied by Porter & Luke’s, which is the concept that the new owners put in after purchasing the restaurant.
However, Darryl and Ellen Cortello seem to be doing well as they’ve opened a new successful New Orleans restaurant named Luca Eats.
As of 2023, Luca Eats is still open and serving customers, so Darryl Cortello and Ellen Cortello have been able to make it in the culinary business.
If you want to see updates for another New Orleans Kitchen Nightmares episode, check out our Oceana Kitchen Nightmares update.
And if you want to share your thoughts on the Zekes Kitchen Nightmares episode, you can join lots of other people in the comments section below.
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Last updated: 2023-04-23 06:36