Zocalo Update – Kitchen Nightmares – Open or Closed?

Is Zocalo still open?

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

Season: 5 | View All Season 5 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: March 30, 2012
Zocalo Address: 3600 Lancaster Ave Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Episode Recap

Zocalo was a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania restaurant featured on Season 5 of Kitchen Nightmares. The Zocalo Kitchen Nightmares episode aired in March 2012, but the actual filming and visit from Gordon Ramsay took place much earlier in late 2011. It was Episode 17 of Season 5.

Right off the bat there are obviously a lot of big problems with Zocalo, a Mexican themed restaurant in Philadelphia.

You can see the strain the restaurant has put on its family of owners.

The overworked husband, Greg and disinterested wife (Mary) can’t seem to agree on anything.

Their marriage is on a knife edge as a result of all the stress and it is taking a toll on their children that also work there.

Things seem to go well at first. Ramsay can’t comment enough on how fantastic the restaurant looks.

The decor is authentic and tastefully done.

This is pretty much where the good news stops for Zocalo though.

For starters, the prices are too high.

The owners’ daughter (who also waiters) admits it herself that she can’t afford to eat there.

There are also way too many options, and Ramsay is left wondering how the chef can cope.

He is also shocked to find out how little time the wife spends at the restaurant.

It only gets worse once the food arrives. Ramsay doesn’t have anything positive to say about the dishes and even says you would “get shot” for serving the food in Mexico.

At least Greg agrees with Ramsay on the quality of the food being below par when confronted.

Soon Mary is caught lying about setting the food prices and an argument starts. Mary ends up stomping off, unwilling to talk it over.

Gordon returns at dinner service. He soon sees that Greg is completely out of his depth.

The kitchen backs up fast, with long waiting times for food.

Greg is not blameless, as he refuses to let his kitchen staff help with any cooking.

Making matters worse is that most appliances aren’t working and Greg needs to rely on the microwave.

Gordon talks to Greg, pointing out how he is taking on too much work, while his wife looks by.

The next day Gordon talks with Mary and their two children while Greg watches on a TV screen.

Ramsay tries to motivate the rest of the family to help Greg out more.

They all cry as they realize the strain Greg is under. The family reconcile and seem ready to go on.

Ramsay then shows them the revamped kitchen. He also introduced a brand new menu and tablet ordering system.

Lastly he organized a group of culinary students to help out through in-kitchen training.

Dinner service starts much better, but communication breaks down once more between Mary in the front and Greg in the kitchen.

Gordon is forced to take Mary aside and tell her to get her act together.

The rest of dinner service runs smoothly and customers are left happy with the improved service and food.

Zocalo Update - What Happened Next?

The weeks after Ramsay’s intervention things improved dramatically at Zocalo’s.

With the simpler menu, new ordering system and help from culinary students the quality of food and service went up and up.

With much less stress from the day to day running of the restaurant the family’s relationship also strengthened.

Greg and Mary has new hope for their marriage and being partners again.

Most Yelp reviews gives Zocalo an average or above rating.

Unfortunately it seems like it wasn’t enough to save Zocalo from closing down.

The mountain of debt building up through the years must’ve caught up with them.

It is also reported that there are court documents revealing tax liens of over $60 000 against the owner, Greg Russell.

This is without the restaurants other debts.

Unfortunately, these money troubles mean that Zocalo is permanently closed as of 2022, even though the restaurant seemed to be much-improved after the visit from Gordon Ramsay.

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Last updated: 2022-02-11 06:52

9 thoughts on “Zocalo Update – Kitchen Nightmares – Open or Closed?”

  1. I am a true fan of Gorden Ramsey and I love all the different type of shows he has. I of course have no idea on which are the criteria to be chosen to receive the help. But really breaks my heart when I see Ramsey with the compassion to reach out and gain these people’s trust while at the same time changing every thing they ever knew around them. I love to see the smiles and happy tears at the end of the show. But I am wondering about something and it is, The show has got to know before hand what kind of a financial hole the business is in. If I was in charge over the decisions to do the make over I would always wonder if the people who own the restaurants are wanting the business to have a better look, so they can sell it for a lot more money. I say this because around 60% of the restaurants he has helped are now closed. I know Gorden is very compactionemt about helping others and it would suck to see how much time and money he put out there just to be used.

  2. nuts to the owner trying to scam ramsey. the appliances were paid for in lieu if marketing costs. a wholesale 1500 or 400 made in china vulcan stove is worth the 15000 national advertising spot. ramsey wasnt taken advantage of in anyway or how. frankly, he dropped the ball in not having a restaurant manager in his crew. john taffer is a loudmouth but ffs, ive never seen a ramsey episode where he considered the bar as an asset. to be clear, i was a customer at zocalos for 3 or 4 years. it was good food but pricey. yet much better then the hipster mexican places we have scattered across the city….but what makes them successful? well location of course, and booze. i dont eat in ‘gringo mexican’ anymore because its not comforting. i leave with heartburn…sour, vinegar, dry charred meat. they lead with alcohol specials and some are adding game day specials to keep up now. i moved across the river so naturally fell off of zocalos, but lets look at the neighborhood back then…college bars, wings, pizza, 711, a thai whitetablecloth place i never went to. i generaly settled into what i liked, i would not know a tasty mole if it slapped me but of the 3 courses i regularly ordered they were on par or better then any mexican restaurant i had in southern cali, and less pretentious then the celebrity restaurantuers in philly; and many tourist trap yet successful places along the border(cooking styles being equal). anyway, ramsey tried to make it a white tablecloth chipotle which i didnt try and was dissapointed to see. but being there before the furniture and facade renovation(before ramsey showed up) to make it more “mexican” that is seen in the show i wished they focused more on drinks and drawing in the college crowd with game day specials or happy hour. oh well, greg was a boss, he’d close the kitchen and have a beer at the bar. i never saw the wife but the daughters and greg were cool. its a shame, and i hope they are doing better. as it is now its bar and chicken joint, still havent been back but i hope the value added of the shows improvements didnt hit them too hard on the tax bill thus driving them further in the hole…jeez if a stove doesnt ignite then it can be fixed unkess its a rusted hulk with gas leaking jt that coats more then free gear provided for national marketing.

  3. Such a shame – for a change this episode had a nice, hardworking owner instead of an egomaniac or nitwit in the mix. Gordon fixed the food, staffing, and helped draw the family together. But knowing that they had such an enormous debt load, I wonder why he didn’t have a financial planner or accountant to help them figure a way to get themselves out of the financial hole they were in. Maybe financially it was a no-win situation from the start; if so, the whole exercise was academic and a waste of time. I sincerely hope the Russells are OK; they probably lost their home and everything else.


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