Chappy’s Before Kitchen Nightmares
Opened in Nashville, Tennessee, Chappy’s is a Cajun restaurant owned by John Chapman and his wife, Star. It first opened in Long Beach, Mississippi in 1984, and gained a lot of attention as a high-quality Cajun spot. However, plans changed for Chappy’s as 2005 brought with it Hurricane Katrina, and the family, as well as the restaurant, moved into Nashville. After the relocation, Chappy’s began seeing a slide in ratings and service which Chef Chapman blames on Nashville people, not understanding Cajun food. Most of the other workers, however, would disagree, instead focusing the blame on Chappy’s ego, poor décor, and even worse organization. Footage would tend to agree with this idea, as Chapman shows him kicking out customers due to complaints about salad dressing, and also objecting to having items that were poorly made removed from a customer’s bill. Can Chef Ramsay pull Chappy’s out of a self-inflicted nosedive? Let’s find out.
Chappy’s on Kitchen Nightmares
Upon entering, Ramsay mentions that Chappy’s looks more museum than restaurant. He quickly requests to see the owner, who says he’ll be right out. This simply isn’t the case as Ramsay eventually moves to a couch before Chapman finally decides to show up, referring to Ramsay as “Darth Vader”. The two start talking shop, and Chapman states that Nashville was a bit of a cold crowd. Chapman states he makes 10/10 food no matter what he puts out, and Ramsay sits down to view a rather large menu. These include 10 additional specials not mentioned on menu and 5 appetizers as well. This oddity pales in comparison to the fact that some dishes served for lunch are $10, while they are $40 for dinner for the same exact thing. Ramsay orders some fried green tomatoes, the chicken sausage gumbo and the steak and lobster rocket.
While these are being made, Star introduces herself, and it’s revealed the couple has been together for 29 years. It’s clear she’s the one who contacted him, as she hopes Ramsay can straighten her husband out on some critical errors despite him being “set in his ways”. The tomatoes do finally come out, it’s bland and the Hollandaise is rather weak. The gumbo then comes out and it looks watery, is lukewarm, and has no real flavor. Last the rocket is presented, and the lobster looks odd, especially for $36.95. The filet is also tenderized, which makes no sense given the cut. Even the waiter, when given a taste, can’t even swallow it.
Chapman for his part thinks Ramsay is lying and is going to “teach him a lesson”. The pair then meets in the kitchen and Ramsay grills him, probably far better than he grilled the steak. He then asks the staff to leave so he may speak bluntly, and he then calls Chapman a joke and asks if he’s done with cooking in general. Chapman admits he’s toned down things for the area, and the two then get very defensive when it’s clear excuses won’t cut it.
That evening, Ramsay returns in time for dinner service to observe what happens. Oyster is exposed in an open container, and fish and beef are blackened in the same pan. When asked what happens if the customer is a pescatarian, Chapman doesn’t even know the definition of the word, which astounds Ramsay as does the very poor presentation of the food being sent to customers. As it so happens, a pescatarian is the Chappy’s and she helps Ramsay explain that exposure to meat can make her very sick. When returned to her seat, she also comments the place looks disgusting. It’s confirmed as Ramsay finds some mayo that’s been expired for 3 years, raw beef and cooked beef right next to each other, shellfish which are rancid, and mold all over the cooling area. He then takes the owners on a tour of their own facility.
Chapman has a very weak defense on anything that is being presented. After a brief conflict, Ramsay asks Star to chat alone, as she seems to be very defensive about her husband, despite all criticisms being well grounded. She admits she has no idea what happened to him, and wish she could find out what could be fixed. Ramsay admits he thinks he is far too late, but Star says Chapman does care and wants to talk to Chapman before Ramsay leaves. Star tells him to come back into it and prove he loves to cook, and she is embarrassed, that she needs to see progress or all of this was for nothing. The team then cleans up the kitchen, and the following morning a staff meeting is held to determine any issues. The main complaints are Chappy is closed off, condescending, and is angry constantly. It’s clear he is also way calmer while Ramsay is in the building, so on some level, he gets there’s something wrong. Ramsay asks the staff to tell it to him, and that no matter what, Ramsay has their back.
In response to the feedback, Chappy admits it is helpful and he apologizes for his behavior. Ramsay then takes to the streets to show what the community thinks of Chappy’s, where he is ravaged, with one stating that the Cajun food truck is better at authentic Cajun. After being broken down, Chapman agrees to make Chappy’s better. Renovations are then made, turning the 1980’s vibe with some creepy mannequins to a more formal and fashionable dining room (which Chapman dislikes, but grins and bears it). Next, a menu change is made, with a reduced, modernized menu with 22 items as opposed to over 100. Ramsay also hired a world-renowned chef to keep the menu steady even after Ramsay leaves. During Relaunch, Chapman is non-responsive and is struggling with the menu due to his own hang-ups. He keeps making the same mistakes, and the hired chef takes Chapman’s place in the kitchen. After dinner, Ramsay states a new chef must be put into the kitchen, as he has no skill in the kitchen worthy of being noted. This is clearly a very negative sign, but did Chappy’s end up surviving into 2017? Let’s find out.
Chappy’s in 2018- After Kitchen Nightmares Update
As of 2017, Chappy’s has been closed for quite some time. In fact, not long after the crew left Chappy’s and before the episode even aired on Fox, several moves sealed the fate of the restaurant. Of these, the most prevalent issue was an inability to properly pay state taxes, which got the location shut down by Tennessee State authorities. There was also a general abandonment of the improvements made by Kitchen Nightmares, and the owner of Chappy’s blaming Kitchen Nightmares for the troubles. Around 2013, there was talk of Chapman opening a restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana, but that didn’t quite happen, at least not initially. It appears instead, he opened Chappy’s Bistro in Gulfport Mississippi which then quickly closed. Then a Chappy’s Restaurant did, in fact, open in New Orleans, only to close in October 2015. Considering the Yelp reviews, it was unlikely due to food or customer turnout being an issue, as the place has 4.5 stars overall, and had 50 reviews before closing which is a decent number.