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Q&A with Park’s Edge, Atlanta, Post Kitchen Nightmares

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I recently reviewed Park’s Edge Restaurant in a visit post Kitchen Nightmares, the show featuring Gordon Ramsay. While he may come off a bit brash, Ramsay does seem to genuinely care about the restaurants he is trying to transform, down to each individual. My server at Park’s Edge, Love, shared with me that she appreciated the fact that Ramsay takes the time to meet everyone and shake everyone’s hand. She got the impression he really wants to know everyone involved the restaurant down to the bus boy.

Not that Ramsay doesn’t at times, get under the skin of staff. Love, sweet as could be, was so frustrated during the filming at one point, she walked out. I loved that I was able to get the background story from Chef Jorge and Owner Richard Wadlington as well. I probed them both the get to the truth of the whole Kitchen Nightmares experience. Curious to see how this compares to what makes the final cut.

Here’s what I found out:

ARB: Did you bump heads with GR or did you get a long?
PE: We did bump heads with Ramsay. He has an agenda to make the show look a certain way. For example, we had an entire box of lemons that were perfect and he riffled through to the bottom to find the one that wasn’t in good condition and said ‘You would serve this to your guests?’

ARB: What’s different about the show than what we see on TV?
PE: It is quite staged, at least in our experience. It was clear Kitchen Nightmares wanted to be in charge of the crowd. When word got out we’d be on KN, reservations filled up fast. When they got here they told us we had to cancel the reservations we’d had for the days when they’d be filming. They then proceeded to completely overbook the restaurant during dinner. Of course people aren’t going to happy when they’ve been waiting over an hour for a table. We would never let that happen.

ARB: What positives have you gained from the experience?
PE: Two things. We [Jorge and Richard] had to see ourselves the way the staff sees us and that has changed the relationship for the better. Also, there was some conflict with some things we’d said about the community in the past that may have slightly damaged our reputation. But GR had us appear and Fox 5 and apologize which has seemed to mend fences. Plus, we are really happy with the makeover Kitchen Nightmares has given our restaurant.

ARB: Would you do it again?
PE: Yes, absolutely, especially knowing how things are executed. For example, we would have liked to have known that during the day when they were filming no one was allowed to leave the restaurant ALL day. They wouldn’t even let someone leave to buy Jorge a birthday card. The entire staff waited until 11 pm that evening so they could sing Happy Birthday to Jorge.

ARB: So, will the new menu stay in place?
PE: Well, the Brunch menu has stayed the same as it is really a big draw for us. For the most part, the dinner menu will remain intact, but at the end of day we have to please our customers. We’ve had so many regulars that have been disappointed to find their favorite dishes have been eliminated from the menu. We’ll no doubt have to bring one or two back.

See the video with Chef Jorge below:

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