Zocalo Kitchen Nightmares Update – Still Open in 2024?

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.

Though the Zocalo Kitchen Nightmares episode aired in March 2012, the actual filming and visit from Gordon Ramsay took place much earlier in late 2011.

It was Kitchen Nightmares Season 5 Episode 17.

In this episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay heads to the City of Brotherly love.

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.

Greg and Mary Russell Zocalo owners

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

They purchased the Zocalo restaurant back in 2008, but it’s really not working out.

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.

Basically, the Zocalo Kitchen Nightmares episode exists for both business and personal reasons.

Despite these issues, things seem to go well at first at the Zocalo restaurant

Ramsay can’t comment enough on how fantastic the restaurant looks when he first walks in.

Gordon Ramsay looking at Zocalo

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 works as a waitress) 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.

Gordon Ramsay eating at Zocalo

Ouch! A simple “not very good” would suffice lol.

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 with Gordon.

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.

Gordon Ramsay watching dinner service at Zocalo

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

Plus, they still have the huge menu to contend with.

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.

Zocalo family meeting

Ramsay then shows them the revamped kitchen.

To streamline things further, 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.

At the end, Gordon Ramsay says that he can’t remember a Kitchen Nightmares episode where he was rooting for the owners more.

End of Zocalo episode

He also called Greg one of the nicest people that he’s ever met.

So was the Kitchen Nightmares Zocalo episode a long-term success?

Keep reading our update to learn what happened next and if this Philadelphia PA restaurant is still open in 2024 and beyond.

Zocalo Update - What Happened Next?

Now that we’ve recapped the Zocalo Kitchen Nightmares episode, let’s talk about what happened to the restaurant after Gordon Ramsay and his crew left Philadelphia, PA.

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 have new hope for their marriage and being partners again.

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

Is Zocalo still open in 2024?

Zocalo closed in January 2013, which is a little over a year after the visit from Gordon Ramsay, though less than a year after the actual Kitchen Nightmares Zocalo episode aired on TV.

Why did Zocalo close?

Well, it seems like 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 and debts of over $100,000 against the owner, Greg Russell.

According to Philadelphia Magazine, the restaurant had to deal with the following debts:

  • A Philadelphia city tax lien of over $40,000
  • Federal tax liens totally over $28,000
  • A “confession of judgement” against Greg Russell of $39,000

Additionally, the restaurant didn’t have very good reviews – I’ll share some real Zocalo review examples below.

Unfortunately, these money troubles mean that Zocalo is permanently closed as of 2024.

As of 2023, the old Zocalo Philadelphia PA location is occupied by an apartment building named Paloma University City.

So it seems like there will be no more food being served at the old Zocalo property.

Here’s what the old Zocalo restaurant Philadelphia location looks like in the most recent picture from Google Maps street view:

Zocalo reviews after Kitchen Nightmares

Overall, when the Zocalo Philadelphia restaurant closed, it had just a 2.5 star rating on Yelp, which includes reviews from both before and after the Zocalo Gordon Ramsay visit.

I’d like to say the reviews got much better after Gordon Ramsay…but I honestly can’t see much difference.

Here’s a sampling of a few Zocalo reviews from after the Kitchen Nightmares episode to give you an idea of what real customers were experiencing…

3 star Yelp review from November 2012:

Everyone seems to love to dump on Zocalo, so we went to check out how bad it was post-Kitchen Nightmares.

No matter what happened, we knew that the ($3.75) margaritas would save the night.

We went the day after hurricane Sandy, so it was quiet.

Not amazing food, but it was solid.

Reasonable value – 3 margaritas, two large entrees and an order chips and salsa (with chip refills) came to $40.

The margaritas were a bit weak, but they were cheap.

No major complaints.

2 star Yelp review from April 2012:

I remember when this was a great restaurant, decades ago.

So,as we’re walking by heading for Indian food, one companion tells us about the Gordon Ramsay makeover, so we go in.

Well, he may have changed the management and the menu, but he forgot to introduce the kitchen staff to their spice shelf.

My chicken mole looked nice, but the sauce had zero taste.

The steak tacos, while done with good meat [diner was not asked how he wanted his steak, by the way, and it was rarer than he likes] but the steak was totally unseasoned so didn’t have any pizazz.

I won’t be back.

2 star Yelp review from April 2012:

Yup, this place isn’t going to last. Sad, because it’s been here a long time, but ultimately, Gordon Ramsay failed it as well.

Sorry Gordon, this ain’t gonna work out.

As I’ve said before, the food is sub-par and way too overpriced compared to the quality (14$ for a terrible Chile Relleno), and the place is deserted.

Living around the corner from the place, I can vouch for the fact that there’s maybe 3-4 tables filled when I walk by them. On a Friday night. That’s just not going to work.

The staff is still positive that an upturn is on its way, but unfortunately I’m unable to share the same optimism.

Sadly, this one is going to the dogs. There’s just not much more to say here.

Hit up Mad Mex right in the area for a more trendy atmosphere, with (comparatively) better food and better drinks menus for the liquid-diet folks.

Kokopelli and El Vez are still my go-to’s for a Mexican craving in Philly.

3 star Yelp review from February 2012:

After the recent revamp of Zocalo, I was looking forward to trying it.

I went with a few friends and meant to get their in time for happy hour, but missed it by a few minutes.

I had a delicious margarita and very tasty (and fresh) chips and salsa verde.

The menu isn’t extremely extensive, but it has a nice variety and if I was looking to get dinner, I definitely could have found a number of things to try!

The service was very friendly and attentive and an all-around pleasant experience.

What happened to Greg Russell from Kitchen Nightmares?

After Zocalo closed, Greg Russell has continued working in the restaurant/hospitality industry.

He was the Executive Chef at the Marathon Grill in Philadelphia for around a year and a half.

After that, he was the General Manager at Joe Squared in Baltimore MD, a corporate catering service.

That’s where his LinkedIn page leaves off.

Greg Russell after Kitchen Nightmares

However, according to his Facebook page, Greg is now working as the General Manager at a Greek restaurant in Columbia, MD.

Overall, even though Zocalo closed, Greg Russell seems to have been able to build a succesful career in the restaurant industry.

I wish him all the best!

Did the Zocalo owners divorce after Kitchen Nightmares?

Sadly, it seems like Greg and Maria, the Zocalo owners, did divorce after Kitchen Nightmares.

Greg posted pictures from his own wedding in 2019, so it seems like he’s been divorced and then remarried.

What happened to Mary Russell from Zocalo?

I’m not sure what happened to Mary Russell after Kitchen Nightmares because she doesn’t have much of an online presence.

According to her LinkedIn page, she was searching for a positioning in public relations or event promotion.

I wish her all the best!

Final Thoughts on What Happened to Zocalo

After the visit from Gordon Ramsay, Zocalo seemed to be doing well from a food perspective.

However, the restaurant had large debts and tax liens that led to its closure around 1.5 years after the Zocalo Gordon Ramsay visit.

Greg Russell has had some other jobs in the hospitality industry and is currently working as the General Manager at a Greek restaurant in Columbia, MD.

Sadly, it seems like the Zocalo owners divorced.

The old Zocalo Philadelphia PA location is now occupied by an apartment building.

If you want to see some other Philadelphia Kitchen Nightmares episodes, you can check out our updates for Hot Potato Cafe and Chiarella’s.

If you want to see other episodes from this season, you can also use the links below.

👉 Read other updates:

And if you want to share your thoughts on the Zocalo restaurant Kitchen Nightmares episode, you can do so using the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

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Last updated: 2023-08-05 05:14

19 thoughts on “Zocalo Kitchen Nightmares Update – Still Open in 2024?”

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

  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.

  4. We did a huge party for my grandparents anniversary at Zocalo. Jack and Sue Minnis. Makes me sad that it’s gone, as are my gram and gramp

  5. I have been binge watching KN for the past week and have enjoyed it very much. For both the crazy drama and discovering Ramsey is more than the foul mouthed monster he often appears to be. You can tell he really wants to help and genuinely cares for the people and businesses he tries to help. I agree it was refreshing to see an owner who was such a hard worker and not lazy or delusional like so many. But he really didn’t help himself by letting his crazy wife browbeat him so badly or by not letting his staff actually work. 1 chef cooking for the whole service while the others stand around twiddling their thumbs is crazy. I was rooting for him though and am sad to see he couldn’t make it work. Glad he dumped the psycho wife and hope the new one is better..

  6. I don’t get why Mary said she doesn’t know what queso de frier is and that it is not Mexican, when it is one of the most popular cheeses in Mexico.
    It is basically Mexico’s version of halloumi. Also, she doesn’t like being in the kitchen because it’s hot… and she’s from Mexico?


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