Down City Before Kitchen Nightmares
Based in Providence, Rhode Island, owners Abby and Rico bought Down City in 2005, near a good deal of colleges and a cultural center of the state. Both owners did not have restaurant experience before buying Down City, though Abby has some 30 years of wine experience under her belt and thus fashioned herself the defacto head of Down City, while Rico is more the financier. In recent years before filming, there has been a huge downturn in customer walk-ins and thus money.
The staff seems to all agree that while there are many problems with Down City, the main one is Abby, who is aggressive to the point of verbally abusive towards her staff and even customers, and also created a menu that’s long and been poorly received. Can Gordon Ramsay handle this owner, and turn around Down City before it goes 6 feet under? Let’s find out.
Down City Kitchen Nightmares
Chef Ramsay arrives in from the cold Rhode Island afternoon to a warm welcome from Abby. Ramsay walks in hungry and is ready to get to business as his room service had been horrid. As it happens, Down City does the room service for said hotel, and Abby gets defensive almost immediately, asking what he had. As it happened, the crab cakes were disgusting, as was the soup, and Abby states he’s exaggerating and he’d be “one of those customers I’d fire immediately” which makes no sense.
After denying Abby’s menu suggestions, Ramsay takes a waiter and sits down to see if the rest of the food is just as horrid. When he asks when the last time food was sent back, the waiter has a chuckle because the table right next to Ramsay’s had just sent something back to the kitchen. The owner then sits down next to him to try and suggest something again. He states that if she’s honest then she can go ahead, but he’s here to help and not argue, which is something she clearly fails to register.
Abby is clearly in denial and leaves the table and a waiter shows up. Ramsay orders calamari, 3-way nachos and the “award-winning” meatloaf. While cooking, the chef openly admits he probably won’t do well as this isn’t his menu or his choice to make these dishes. Even the head waiter admits that the food is below par, just as the calamari is dished out, looking very wet. It turns out it’s fried, then tossed in a sauce which makes the batter fall off. Gordon spits it out after the first bite.
The nachos are up next, which look as dreadful as Abby’s attitude so far, and tastes about as bad being not a party, but a “funeral in [his] mouth”. The award-winning meatloaf is last up and comes out lukewarm, and the waiter himself, admits it’s embarrassing to even serve it.
During the after meal meeting, it’s revealed there’s no head chef, and Abby takes responsibility for the menu. When Ramsay states it’s bad, she replies with “fix it”, which really shows her attitude towards the entire night so far. At this point, Ramsay leaves for fresh air and prepares to handle to witness dinner service.
After this conflict, Abby lays on a couch and talks to herself, thinking about opening a hot dog stand on the beach, though she still believes Ramsay is totally wrong. Her staff eventually come to her and say she’s not up to par in terms of the menu and food. She, in turn, ignores them and walks away.
For dinner service, Rico shows up and is informed of the situation, and it’s clear Rico would side with Ramsay in the future. Rico and Ramsay meet up and discuss finances, and Rico mentions that he could lose his day job in a financial firm if Down City goes under. Ramsay then goes behind the line to see what can be done in the kitchen to improve the situation.
The kitchen itself is very dirty, and he then goes into the coolers to see more of a mess. While the mess is being examined there, the dining room is likewise a mess, with plenty of returns cycling in. Ramsay drags the owners into the cooler to show the health hazards, and she attacks Ramsay, which causes retaliation, and she behaves nastily enough to drag the fight from room to room until Abby tries to kick Ramsay out of Down City.
After Ramsay leaves, Rico chases after him to have a private discussion. While Rico takes the honest criticism from Ramsay, Abby admits she’d rather see the place close than have him in it again. Rico promises 100% support for Ramsay when he comes back in. Of course, after a few moments, Abby realizes what she has done and is hoping for more help.
When he comes back, he comes back to a much more quiet Abby who is willing to listen. The next morning, the staff have a roundtable with the owners using an anonymous format. It’s clear she quickly wants to get defensive again as people begin exposing issues like how large the menu is and how impossible it is to keep food standards high with the new menu, but to her credit, she does not act up. In fact, she admits her issues and states she needs to change to make a more successful Down City.
One of the first changes is a half-sized menu with a duck special, and with the smaller requirements, the kitchen increases productivity and quality to the point where customers seem very pleased. That is until the line gets confused and Abby gets frustrated with the delays. Customers, as a result, begin leaving as they are impatient about food not being delivered.
Abby and Rico talk to Jimmy about the poor performance and openly admits they may have no idea what they’re doing. Ramsay calls in a chef to train the kitchen team in how to perform better, alongside a brand new menu which is simplified, but quality dishes. During the relaunch, an old rival of Abby’s, a food blogger with a good number of followers shows up to see the progress. Luckily with an organized and trained kitchen and a calmer Abby, the night turns out alright despite extra stress on Abby and a few communication hitches. But does this success mean a new fate for Down City? Let’s take a look.
Down City After Kitchen Nightmares – 2023 Update
Chef Ramsay’s visit brought to light several issues, including poor food quality, a lack of leadership, and severe communication breakdowns among staff. Despite these challenges, Ramsay implemented changes in hopes of reviving the restaurant.
The short-term impact on Down City after Kitchen Nightmares appeared positive. The restaurant experienced a surge in popularity due to its newfound fame from the television show. This brought in a wave of curious customers eager to try out the eatery that had been featured on national television. Ramsay’s changes also improved the quality of the food and service offered at Down City.
However, despite these improvements, Down City couldn’t maintain this momentum in the long run. The initial surge in customers began to dwindle and old problems started creeping back in. Regular patrons reported that while there were improvements initially after Ramsay’s visit, standards began to slip over time with food quality and service becoming inconsistent.
Ultimately, Down City closed its doors permanently in 2014, three years after its appearance on Kitchen Nightmares. While the show gave Down City a temporary boost and an opportunity to turn things around, it ultimately could not save the restaurant from its long-term problems. The closure was a disappointment for many locals who had hoped that the restaurant could sustain its initial recovery.
As of 2023, their old Las Vegas location is occupied by a nightclub called Club Ego.
If anything, it’s a sobering reminder of the harsh realities of the restaurant industry. Even with expert intervention and temporary improvements, long-standing issues within management and operations can prove too difficult to overcome.
While Down City may have ended its run, its story serves as a lesson for other struggling restaurants on the importance of consistent quality and effective management.