Kitchen Nightmares (US) S05 E15: Cafe Hon, Baltimore, North Maryland – OPEN

Kitchen Nightmares (US) S05 E15: Cafe Hon, Baltimore, North Maryland – OPEN

In this episode of The Kitchen Nightmares, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Cafe Hon, a restaurant whose name has a special meaning to the local population, in Baltimore, North Maryland. Café Hone was opened by entrepreneur Denise Whiting in 1992 and quickly became a local landmark with a large pink flamingo on the front.

Conflicts and the reason for decline

What was once about Food, Family, and Fun, starts declining when Denise decides about trademarking her business for the sake of merchandising her stuff.

She not only trademarked her business, but she also trademarked the word “HON” which significantly upset the local community. The local community loves the word, Hon, since it’s been in the local vocabulary for ages. She announces it publicly in a press conference and threatens the locals by suing if someone else uses it.

Kitchen Nightmares Cafe Hon Baltimore

This strategy backfires and the community boycotts Cafe Hon, which results in a 50% drop in sales.

Unfortunately, Denise does not understand the situation; her egotistical behavior, the fearing staff, the rebelled local community, and the unsatisfied customers make up the Cafe Hon’s kitchen a nightmare.

After learning about the Cafe Hon scandal, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits a local radio station and discovers the negative reputation of the Cafe Hon is, partially, because of the bullying attitude of Denise with locals and, mainly, because of the possessiveness about the word “Hon”.


Episode Related Info:
Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 05 Episode 15 (Including Re-vists)
Restaurant Name: Cafe Hon, Baltimore, North Maryland
Filming: November 2011
Air Date: 24 February, 2012
Restaurant Close Date: NA
Current Status: OPEN

Is Cafe Hon, Baltimore, North Maryland closed?

Cafe Hon is still open (last checked November 2021)

Chef Gordon Ramsay in Café Hon

Gordon arrives at the café and meets manager Debbie, who informs Denise that the chef wants to meet her.

Denise meets Gordon Ramsay in private, and soon she breaks into tears. Gordon, knowing the fact, asks her about any enmity which she refuses and starts blaming the local media to create chaos.

Having had a little chat with Denise regarding PR problems, Gordon heads for lunch to judge the menu items, taste, and style.

Chef Gordon Ramsay Criticizes the Food

Chef Gordon orders English-style Bawlmor Fish and Chips, Big Bay Club Sandwich, and the “Much Better Than Mom’s” Meatloaf.

He tries to eat Big Bay Club Sandwich and finds crab delicious, but the shrimps are cold and stale. Next, Gordon says “a big disappointment” to the Fish & chips because the fish is dry and fries are overcooked and greasy without seasoning. The third dish seems dreadful, flavorless with poor presentation.

For Denise, it was not digestible at all. She doubts Gordon’s expertise and feels that he may not be the answer to his café’s problems.

Gordon meets the kitchen staff and condemns the dishes in the presence of Denise, who looks uncomfortable at this. Greg, the head chef, says Denise wants it the way it is because it’s her recipe and she doesn’t let anyone change the recipes. Ramsay is annoyed and visits the Café in the evening to observe the operations.

Gordon Ramsay Cafe Hon

Chef Gordon Ramsay Observes the Dinner Service

Upon hearing about Gordon’s arrival, the café swaps with the customer for the first time. Orders start popping in and soon the kitchen becomes a mess with canceled orders.

Denise replies to the customer complaints by 86ing the product, which turns out in a huge operational cost. 86ing is a term used to indicate the unavailability of any food item, and Denise often uses this term rather than fixing the problem. The staff is annoyed at her because of her interruptive attitude.

Gordon Ramsay’s Staff Meeting

The next morning, Chef Ramsay meets the staff before Denise arrives and encourages them to be open about their feelings, work pressures, and what they most dislike about Denise’s behavior.

The staff comments that when she is not around, everything goes perfect but when she intercedes and tries to manage things at the micro-level, everything becomes a mess. Instead of taking responsibility for her actions, she starts screaming.

Gordon and Denise Cafe Hon

Denise’s Arrival at the Meeting:

Chef Ramsay encourages the staff to speak up honestly in front of Denise to make her understand what’s wrong and what she needs to fix.

Debbie, the loyal manager, calls her “a bitch”. Amanda, the server, says her “a negative in the restaurant”. Another server complains about the “trust factor”. Greg, the head chef, calls her “a hindrance in everything”.

Listening to the staff’s feedback, and realizing her negative points, Denise bursts into tears and promises to everyone to change herself. She thanks the staff and hugs everyone with tears to show her love for everyone and appreciates all to make her aware of the faults. She also hugs Chef Gordon Ramsay and vows to listen to his advice.

Chef Gordon Ramsay Involves the Community

While fixing the attitude problem among Denise and the staff, Chef Ramsay manages a local meet-up to speak about Denise. He tricks with concealed microphones to make listen Denise to what the locals say about her. Having listened to why the locals are upset, Denise realizes her faults and follows Gordon Ramsay’s direction to blow the criticism.

Fixing behavioral problems, Gordon Ramsay starts renovating the Cafe Hon with a much-desired aesthetic look that everybody loves. He redoes the menu and dishes with a unique style that attracts and appeals not only to Denise and the staff but also caters to the local taste. Denise is so much obliged that she starts weeping and hugs Gordon Ramsay out of joy.

Chef Ramsay takes Denise to the local radio station to announce her quitting the ownership of the word “Hon”. She asks the local community to apologize to her, live on the radio, which works like a magic.

He manages a press conference in a newly renovated café, in which, Denise again says sorry about her mis-treatments and takes an oath to abandon the word “Hon” for the sake of the Community. She says in the press conference that she has no intention of keeping lingering in the past and will change herself to serve the community in a better way.

The Relaunch

As the restaurant opens its door for dinner, the customers throb in to give it another try. The whole team works coherently to see well done dinner service.

With all the tensions gone and working as a team, The Café Hon becomes a fun place to work and an enjoyable eatery for the community. Denise no more interferes with the jobs of the staff and helps everyone with her cheerful and supporting comments. The local community, that boycotted the restaurant, gives it another shot.

What happened to Cafe Hon, Baltimore, North Maryland after relaunch?

Denise’s efforts are now paying off with many locals have forgiven her. Reviews on Facebook and Trip Advisor are more positive. Yelp have low rating however, recent comments look quite positive. There still are few people who have not forgive her, however Cafe Hon has cemented its place in the community.

Gordon also revisited the cafe few months after the episode aired (in May 2012). Gordon liked the food very much and for her work in the community, Denise and Cafe Hon gets commendation. There was renovation and decor change in restaurant the next year (2013).

Cafe Hon is still open (last checked November 2021). Planning a visit to the restaurant? Visit the website for opening hours, COVID guidelines and more info.



1. Restaurant Profile on Yelp

2. Spin a Yarn’s IMDB episode link

3. Facebook Page of Cafe Hon

4. Restaurant’s website

5. Wiki Article


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Episode Related Info:
Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 05 Episode 15 (Including Revists)
Restaurant Name: Cafe Hon, Baltimore, North Maryland
Filming: November 2011
Air Date: 24 February, 2012
Restaurant Close Date: NA
Current Status: OPEN

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