The Real Reason So Many Kitchen Nightmares Restaurants Fail

Fans of Kitchen Nightmares know that all episodes will have the following features: a recalcitrant manager, a filthy kitchen appliance, frozen food served instead of fresh, and someone being called a donkey (or worse). Famous for both his colorful temper as well as his exacting culinary standards, Chef Gordon Ramsay helped distressed restaurants in the U.S. with a food and decor makeover over seven seasons (via Kitchen Nightmares Updates). While we all love to see a comeback story, you'll probably be sad to know that most of these restaurants aren't around anymore. Specifically, out of 77 restaurants featured, 60 have closed, 15 are still open, and two have moved, or sold. 

The results may have, in part, influenced Ramsay's decision to pull the show. According to Eater he said, "I got fed up with Kitchen Nightmares because I was getting s***. So I woke up one morning and I thought 'F*** it, I'm done.'"

Ramsay rescued restaurants that were guaranteed to fail

The restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares were already going to fail if Chef Ramsay had not intervened; they had a 100 percent failure rate before the show. Even with the best of times and intentions, 30 percent of new restaurants in the U.S. fail or change ownership within the first year, and 60 percent do so within three years (via Webstaurant Store). By this logic alone, it's quite lucky that Chef Ramsay is able to save any of these dining establishments. 

One Quora commenter sums it up: "The simplest explanation is this; They were in such bad shape financially that even turning things around to a 'moderately successful' restaurant wasn't enough to save them — and going from a money losing place to a fantastically successful place is a very, very hard thing to do." 

Running a successful restaurant takes many different skills. An establishment needs great staff in both the front and back of the house, good food, and strong leadership. In addition to that, there are also elements like the economy, food costs, foot traffic, and overall enthusiasm that can vary. While Kitchen Nightmares can help, if all of these factors are not working in harmony when Ramsay walks out the door, it will be difficult for a restaurant to be a success.