Classic American Before Kitchen Nightmares
Based in West Babylon, New York, Classic American is owned by a pair of waitresses (Colleen and Naomi) who bought the business in 2000 for nearly three-quarters of a million dollars (including both the business and property). Hoping to chase the Classic American Dream, the restaurant has recently seen a downturn as a result of low turnout, low supplies, and high staff stress. This is only multiplied by the fact that Naomi’s boyfriend works as a de facto manager, and her son works as the head chef, causing some family troubles. Dom has frequently been slow in ordering ingredients which have made a rough time of keeping the menu items available. Naomi has had to move back home as she hasn’t been able to pay herself for some time, and Colleen has similar economic issues. Can Ramsay come in and revamp this restaurant before everyone goes broke?
Classic American on Kitchen Nightmares
Ramsay walks into Classic American and is greeted by Dom, and sees that the small dining room is totally empty. When meeting the owners, he asks what they think is wrong, which makes Colleen nervous. In the meantime, Ramsay decides to look into the menu. It’s quite huge at over 100 items, and he orders the Calamari, mac and cheese, and “the bomb” burger. Things start negative as the mac and cheese are microwaved and looks to be kraft made. Ramsay tears this apart as it’s clearly not locally made. The calamari is then brought out and Ramsay states it tastes frozen, which it is. Next up is the house specialty, the bomb. It appears there’s no seasoning and the patty seems way too chewy. When brought back to the kitchen, the chef confirms that the burger is chewy and Ramsay states that Classic American’s motto “just like mom made” is an insult to mothers.
When Ramsay meets with the kitchen staff, he states that the food is horrid and is amazed the staff actually like the food. He also digs into the owners not appearing to be involved. The owners begin to cry stating the owners, and anyone related to them is currently not getting paid. Ramsay replies he needs to think and takes a walk until dinner service. In an unusual turn from most Kitchen Nightmare episodes, the staff and owners seem to be supportive of one another, and already open to listening to Ramsay’s suggestion.
Before they can get to that, however, Ramsay needs to see what goes on in the kitchen. Tickets appear to be handwritten, despite there being a computer system, due to a repair issue. Regardless of this issue, the food is pushed out hot and fast but returned in kind. Soon after the dinner service starts, anything regarding ground beef is 86’d, and both plates and silverware are not in enough supply. As a result of stress, Colleen walks out. She is followed by Ramsay who tries to determine what’s wrong. She admits she knows everything is falling apart, and she’s scared to lose what little she has. Ramsay says that standards need to be rising before it all falls apart and Classic American becomes the classic American nightmare of lifelong debt. He realizes that the next day he’s going to need to fix a lot, but it’s possible.
The next morning, Ramsay does an anonymous question exercise with owners and staff. It comes to light that waitresses text during dinner service and that Naomi needs to work on being less of a pushover. Then, Dom is questioned on how he cannot keep things stocked, which causes a bit of conflict. Dom leaves the room to throw a tantrum, and Ramsay states that the owners need to toughen up and run a tighter ship.
After this meeting, Ramsay switches roles for the owners and needs to see that they can lead at all before investing into renovations. In the meantime, Ramsay teaches the kitchen staff a new special, sliders. As they start service, one of the waitresses gets caught texting, yet again, and corrected it. As the night starts, demand rises due to name recognition. However, Classic American is over capacity as it only has 13 menus for 50 seats. Once the menus are distributed, the food gets out in quick order and the specials are going out the door. Sadly, Colleen is about to go out the door as well as she doesn’t have enough patience or ability to expedite successfully. Sadly, as the night progresses, people begin to throw plates back into the kitchen. Among them is a plate of vegetables which are so soft it can be pushed through with a finger. This causes Chef Ramsay to close the restaurant as enough was enough.
The after-dinner meeting became rough in quick order. Ramsay states there’s no chance for survival unless there’s a massive change, and everyone agrees to there being a great deal of it starting early tomorrow morning. Overnight, Ramsay and his team give both Classic American and their menu a brand new appearance. The décor is less country style and more contemporary, with brighter colors and a brand new POS Halo system for logistics and ordering. The menus, which are now available for every chair and table, are severely reduced in item choice, but each is crafted skillfully, to the point Dom can’t help himself and digs in before the staff can even notice.
Before the relaunch begins, Colleen declares she will be a new leader, and Dom states he will cool off and let her take the reigns alongside Naomi to create a more successful business. Just before dinner service, Naomi takes control of the kitchen with Colleen in the back. Right as service starts though, the waitresses dash out to smoke as lines of people start forming at the entrance. After a yank on the chain, things start to work out in the front. Naomi begins to try to cook and expedite at the same time, which shows a greater level of coordination with higher quality dishes. Colleen on her part does lead to the front in a masterful fashion, to begin with. What becomes an issue quickly is the dishwasher has been missing spots, which can crumble a service despite everything else going well. Luckily this isn’t the case tonight, as a combination of leadership, expert cooking, and fast service ended up making the night a gigantic success, one of the best in Kitchen Nightmares history. Has this service been the start of a long and healthy restaurant life, or was this spark of hope snuffed out not long after Gordon Ramsay left? Let’s find out.
Classic American After Kitchen Nightmares – 2023 Update
Prior to their appearance on Kitchen Nightmares, Classic American was experiencing significant financial difficulties. The restaurant was co-owned by best friends Colleen and Naomi, who were struggling to maintain operations amidst plummeting sales and a declining customer base.
The situation was so dire that they were facing immediate closure if things didn’t turn around quickly. This ultimately led to their decision to call upon the expertise of Gordon Ramsay and the Kitchen Nightmares team.
During the episode, Chef Ramsay identified several key issues including disorganized management, lack of proper training for staff, unappealing dishes, and a dated decor. He implemented several changes such as revamping the menu with new recipes, retraining the staff, and giving the restaurant a complete makeover in terms of its interior decor.
After the episode aired, they experienced a brief resurgence in popularity. Many customers were curious to try out the improved menu and experience the revamped ambiance. However, this surge proved to be temporary and did not translate into sustained success for Classic American.
Despite the improvements made during their episode, Classic American continued to struggle financially. Apart from the initial surge in business immediately following their appearance on the show, sales began to decline again. The restaurant was unable to sustain its operations and unfortunately had to close its doors permanently in 2013.
If anything, their story serves as a stark reminder of the harsh realities and challenges faced by restaurant owners. Even with expert intervention and public exposure, not all establishments are able to turn their fortunes around.
As of 2023, the building at their old West Babylon location appears to be for sale.