Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 3 Episode 08: Mama Rita’s, Newbury Park, CA

Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 3 Episode 08: Mama Rita's, Newbury Park, CA - CLOSED

UPDATED : 26 December 2019

In this episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon visits Mama Rita's, Newbury Park, CA. The restaurant is owned by an ex-caterer, Laura. This Mexican restaurant is named after Laura’s Grandmother. In the intro part of the episode, Laura tells that her catering business was quite successful and people around her suggested her to open the restaurant. Initial few weeks were good, but, now the restaurant is about to get closed. Chef Perla is working with Laura for past 6 years and for Laura she is more like a friend and not an employee. Staff thinks that Laura as a restaurant owner has no experience.

Mama Ritas Newbury Park in Kitchen Nightmares
Mama Ritas Newbury Park in Kitchen Nightmares

Gordon arrives at the restaurant and meets Laura’s mother, she takes him to Laura. Gordon meets Laura and tells her that the restaurant looks very nice. Gordon sits down for food tasting. Before ordering, Gordon asks waiter Brad about the dishes to avoid and he lists few of them. Gordon meets Sheryl, the restaurant manager, she does not manage the kitchen. Gordon asks Sheryl if she knows why the restaurant is having issues, she does not know the reasons though.

Episode Related Info:
Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 3 Episode 08
Restaurant Name: Mama Rita's, Newbury Park, CA
Filming: May 2009
Air Date: 19 March 2010
Restaurant Close Date: December 2010
Current Status: CLOSED

Is Mama Rita's, Newbury Park, CA closed?

Yes, Mama Rita's, Newbury Park closed in December 2010. The restaurant switched to old menu abandoning Gordon’s menu.

Food Sampling:

Gordon orders a tamale, it is soaking wet from outside, but from inside it is very dry. Laura tells Gordon that they prepare food in batches, ‘it is more like catering’ Gordon adds. Laura takes the tamale to the kitchen and shows it to Perla, who also think it is very dry. The next dish, chicken chimichangas are also dry. The last dish, steak burrito looks gross and tastes bad. Gordon asks Brad to taste the steak, he spits it out in the kitchen. Laura tastes steak herself and finds it very salty.

Gordon joins the staff in the kitchen, Perla tells Gordon that she is serving the food in the same way she used to when they were catering. Gordon finds out that along with $1.5 million investment, Laura is almost $2 million down due to the restaurant, that baffles Gordon.

Gordon arrives at the restaurant to observe the dinner service. Gordon notices that the food is leaving the kitchen exceptionally fast, it is more like fast food factory and not a restaurant. The kitchen staff starts socializing after pushing the food out. Customers like the speed of the service, they do not like the food they are getting.

Storage Inspection:

After the dinner service, Gordon opens the freezer, he finds frozen food in huge quantities. He goes into the walk-in storage and is surprised by the amount of frozen pre-prepared food there is. He calls Laura to the walk-in freezer and shows her the amount of frozen food and calls her mad. The next day, Gordon arrives early to inspect the kitchen and storage area properly. In order to make Laura change the ways she is operating, Gordon starts to take out all the frozen food from the freezer. When Laura and Perla arrive at the restaurant, Gordon shows them the pile load of frozen food, which disgusts Laura. Laura gets rid of all the frozen food.

Gordon goes out in the vicinity and pastes ad asking old customers to gather in the town hall. The first customer tells Laura that when he visited, the service was below standards. The second customer tells Laura that she got sick two times when she visited the restaurant in the past. One other customer shares that whole table got sick after a meal at Mama Rita’s. Laura assures them that the next time around, there won't be issues with food and she is getting rid of the frozen food.

Gordon brings fresh chicken, steak, and shrimps and asks Laura and Perla for a cook-off. He asks them to make something exciting in the next 30 minutes. Gordon makes steak, Laura makes shrimps and Perla struggles with the idea of making something fresh. Staff tastes the food, Gordon’s Steak and Laura’s blackened shrimps are good and Perla’s plain salted “garlic breast” chicken is really bland. Steak and shrimp get added as specials for the dinner service.

The dinner service starts and staff pushes the specials to the customers. Food that the customers get is not done properly, Laura runs to the kitchen and starts taking control of the service. She delegates the tasks and re-do the order. She asks Perla to oversee the appetizers, Perla, however, is lost. Customers are still sending back the undercooked food. After a poor dinner, Gordon is happy to see Laura committed, but, Perla is not a head chef. Laura treats Perla as a family, she does not know what to do.

Relaunch:

The next day, the staff and the owner arrive at the restaurant, Gordon introduces them to Naris, his own chef, she is going to oversee the service. Everyone is happy. Gordon then shows them the new menu, everyone loves the vibrant colors and flavors of the new dishes. At the relaunch dinner, Naris is overseeing the service but Perla is not working with her. Perla is struggling with her kitchen and her staff, the kitchen is slowly sinking.

Caterer Laura and Perla with Gordon Ramsay in kitchen Nightmares
Caterer Laura and Perla with Gordon Ramsay in kitchen Nightmares

One hour into service, food starts going out, however, customers are sending the food back due to inconsistencies. Perla goes all silent and everyone asks her to take control of the kitchen. Gordon takes Laura outside for a pep talk and tells her that she is still thinking of Perla as a friend and not an employee. Gordon asks Naris to take over the line and tells Perla to get some fresh air. Customers are happy to get their food and Naris ends service on a positive note.

Though the relaunch is a success, Gordon again tells Laura that Perla is not a head chef material. Laura responds accordingly and tells Gordon that the next time he is going to visit, he will see staff changes.

What happened next?

As the episode continues, over next couple of weeks, Chef Naris stayed to help to get the restaurant off the ground. As Laura promised Gordon, Perla is out of the restaurant and is back in catering. Laura tells that she will be considering restaurant and catering as different business and she thanks Gordon for all the help. Online reviews were mixed after the relaunch (Mama Rita's Yelp in the resources).

Despite promising changes, Laura slipped back to her old ways, switched to the old menu. Mama Rita’s closed in December 2010. She is still active in the catering business. Laura is general manager of Mission Oaks Cafe (Link in the resources) in Camarillo, CA, online reviews are average. In May 2015, she underwent a spinal surgery (News link in the resources).

Is Mama Rita's, Newbury Park, CA closed?

Yes, Mama Rita's, Newbury Park closed in December 2010. The restaurant switched to old menu abandoning Gordon’s menu.

 

Resources:

  1. IMDB episode info
  2. Yelp profile of Mama Rita's, Newbury Park
  3. Laura's surgery and her path of recovery
  4. Mission Oaks Cafe on Yelp
  5. Mission Oaks Cafe website

 

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Episode Related Info:
Kitchen Nightmares (US) Season 3 Episode 08
Restaurant Name: Mama Rita's, Newbury Park, CA
Filming: May 2009
Air Date: 19 March 2010
Restaurant Close Date: December 2010
Current Status: CLOSED

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