Handlebar before Kitchen Nightmares
The Handlebar is one of the many food establishments located in Mt. Sinai, New York. It was purchased by couple Billy and Carolyn LeRoy last 2007 as they thought that it was a good business opportunity. The restaurant had a reputation for being a favorite haunt of the locals, but now it was dilapidated with neglect.
The restaurant was plagued with problems a year after being opened. The bar area was where the clientele flocked, leaving the dining room and its 18 tables deserted. It also had severely outdated décor and menu items which Billy didn’t want to change as he thought it was cool. Speaking of Billy, he wasn’t doing his best as a manager and frequently had mood swings which frustrated his employees. Moreover, the chef they hired named Melissa lacked the skills to whip out palatable dishes even though the owners insisted that she was a very talented cook.
With the earnings going down the drain, the couple was forced to resort on loans just to keep the restaurant open and to avoid losing their home. There was one last option left on the table for Billy and Carolyn: Chef Gordon Ramsay.
Handlebar on Kitchen Nightmares
Chef Ramsay arrives at Handlebar and meets with the incredibly-nervous couple. As with typical Kitchen Nightmares fashion, the chef orders a selection of the restaurant’s menu items. While waiting for his food, Ramsay was surprised at the sight of the deserted dining area and the décor that was apparently around since the last century.
Billy and Carolyn breathed a sigh of relief as Ramsay enjoyed the soup, although Melissa found it hard to believe that her cooking impressed the expert chef. However, the next dishes failed to appease Ramsay’s taste buds which brought Carolyn to tears. After the taste test, Ramsay summoned the restaurant’s staff for a meeting and briefed them on the problems that plagued the establishment. Melissa confessed that she was not really a chef and that she had no passion for cooking.
Later that night, Ramsay observed Melissa in order to observe how her apathy affected the quality of the dishes she made. An hour into dinner service, the restaurant ran out of veggies which forced the staff to utilize strange ingredient combinations as substitutes. The Kitchen Nightmares host then confronted Billy and straight up told him that the food was the Handlebar’s weakest link, but the owner refused to believe this.
The next morning, Ramsay visited the restaurant for a surprise inspection and found how unsanitary the conditions were in the food storage area. All of his findings led him to the conclusion that everyone in the establishment lacked any kind of passion in serving quality food and making the customers happy. Melissa and the entire staff were forced to clean every nook and cranny, but Billy refused to help them in this endeavor. Ramsay again confronted Billy which quickly became heated as the latter was unable to accept criticism, eventually leading to the owner walking out in a show of arrogance and pride.
Carolyn was left in the Handlebar and, unlike Billy, she was dedicated to ensuring that the business does not shut down. She also worked with Ramsay in every step of the way, starting with revamping the restaurant’s menu with better food. During the second dinner service, Billy returned for the sake of his wife with still no love for Ramsay. Things slowly went downhill as the kitchen was swamped with orders which did not bode well with the simmering temper of the impatient customers. Seeing the collapse of his kitchen during a busy night, Billy had no other choice but to cooperate with Ramsay and let go of his bad attitude.
The Kitchen Nightmares team worked throughout the night for the Handlebar’s relaunch. They got rid of the restaurant’s antiquated atmosphere and gave it a fresh new look which included vibrant lamps and regal-looking furniture. Ramsay also turned the restaurant into a gastropub which was something the staff was unfamiliar with. To help spread the word about the restaurant’s new incarnation, Ramsay arranged a motorcycle rally which included Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider. He also stayed during the relaunch night to enjoy the food along with WWE legend Mick Foley.
Handlebar Now in 2018 – The After Kitchen Nightmares Update
Ramsay revisited Handlebar a year later and found their dishes enjoyable. However, shortly after filming the revisit, the restaurant closed its doors.
The establishment was sold to a new owner and reopened as Skybox Restaurant and Sports Bar in 2010. A year later, it was shut down and again changed ownership, turning it into a sports bar named Benchwarmers Tavern and Grill which is still open up to this day.
Sadly, Billy succumbed to cancer in 2015.