Zeke’s Restaurant Update – Kitchen Nightmares – Open or Closed?

Is Zeke’s Restaurant still open?

Current Status: >> CLOSED <<
(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

Episode Recap

Zeke’s Restaurant was a Metairie, New Orleans restaurant featured on Season 4 of Kitchen Nightmares.

The restaurant was originally started by James Unangst ‘Zeke’ in 2002 and was popular for its seafood and other creole dishes.

However, Zeke died soon after Hurricane Katrina in 2006, and the restaurant was taken over by Darryl and Ellen Cortello.

In 2011 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, 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. However he is happy with the bread pudding, which is tasty and well made.

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. 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, and they are paying staff out of their own pocket, so anyone who is not happy working there can leave. Not a very friendly response from the owners of Zeke’s!

Based on the suggestions from chef Gordon Ramsay, the restaurant has a makeover with a new area for fresh shellfish and 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, who is more interested in having the dishes served to the customer, and some of the dishes aren’t perfect.

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.

Zeke’s Restaurant Update - What Happened Next?

In the next few weeks, the number of customers at Zeke’s restaurant increased and the staff was also happier.

However, the restaurant was sold and closed in October 2012.

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. So those who come to Metairie looking for Zeke’s restaurant featured in Kitchen Nightmares can check out Porter & Luke’s instead.

As of 2021, Porter & Luke’s is still open at the old Zeke’s Restaurant location. However, the reviews are pretty mediocre now, as it has just a 3.5 star rating according to its Yelp page.

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 2021, 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!

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Last updated: 2021-11-24 07:41

10 thoughts on “Zeke’s Restaurant Update – Kitchen Nightmares – Open or Closed?”

    • It’s probably not just high debt, but there is a sad pattern of restaurants reverting back to their old routines about Gordon departs. Shame :(.

    • Darryl Cortello and his wife were obviously the problem! More so Darryl and his tiny little mind!! As Chef Ramsey put so eloquently! watching the episode made me feel as though I was watching a comedy horror show! Ellen Cortello looked like a zombie hostess. The only benefit of the episode was for a good laugh.
      I hear they have opened a new restaurant in Metairie. Which I suspect is doomed for failure… that it unless they change the name to ( Tiny little minds-Big Prices!) so sad, so so sad…

  1. The reason so many of these restaurants fail, is because the owners go back to their old, bad habits after he leaves. So I don’t think it’s fair to blame him for the failures of the restaurants he visits. He leaves them with new equipment, revamped dining rooms, new staff, new recipes, etc. If they can’t maintain what he puts in place that is their fault, not his. After Gordon leaves he isn’t responsible for what they do.

    • I agree. Sometimes the restaurants are basically bankrupt by the time Gordon gets there so it would be impossible to save them (short of paying off their existing debts for them).

  2. Ok, but does anyone know what happened to the chefs Emil and Jason? Along with the rest of the staff? It was so heartbreaking to see staff who were there from the beginning pour so much love into the restaurant, while Darryl and Ellen only cared about the money <:(((


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