Monday, 25 June 2012

US Season 6 - Mama Maria's - OPEN

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Open or closed? OPEN
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Episode Summary:  Mama Maria’s is an Italian restaurant attached to a pizzeria, now owned by John Esposito after his parents both passed away. The Pizzeria was so successful durting the 90s that they expanded next door and opened Mama Maria’s named after John mum. After his parents passed away John became overwhelmed running both restaurants and focuses on the pizzeria leaving his staff to run the neighbouring Mama Maria’s.

Gordon arrives and notices the shabby look to the front and finds John in the Pizzeria. Server Lori feels the problem is that John doesn’t want to change anything from how his parents ran the restaurant. John feels that the problem is that they don’t have customers.  Gordon sits down to order some lunch and Chef Joe confesses that the quality of the food is bad but he does not control the food. Gordon orders the tortellini di patate, spaghetti meatballs and the margarita pizza. Server Fran brings the deserts to the table, one of which is mouldy, which is deemed to be okay by General Manager Fabio as they are just for display. The tortellini is really bland and Gordon believes they are frozen, this is confirmed by Chef Joe. Gordon notices a smell and removes a large plant pot which absolutely soaks him in water when he takes it down. The spaghetti and meatballs are also frozen and looks rubbery and tastes dry and disgusting. Finally the pizza was full of grease. Gordon heads into the kitchen to talk about the frozen food, John tells Gordon that it takes too long to make the meatballs fresh, Chef Joe disagrees and tells John he is ashamed to be serving the same food.

Gordon comes to observe a dinner service and notices that John stays in the pizzeria and never comes into the kitchen next door in Mama Maria’s. The kitchen sends out food at a fast pace but when it reaches the customers they are not impressed. There are another problems as a vegetarian customer finds a bone in her pasta as the sauce has meat in and another customer is found being sick in the bathroom and after Gordon inspects the lobster he finds it to be bad and tells John how dangerous serving it is. An ambulance has to be called for the vomiting customer and Gordon gets mad and shuts the restaurant service down forcing the staff to have to ask the customers to leave immediately. Gordon confronts John, John confesses that he is drained and not sure he can continue.

Gordon arrives the next day and inspects the food storage. He is disgusted to find buckets of frozen pasta, meat and sauces, some of which are mouldy and should not be used. Gordon informs them that the sick customer is feeling better but lays out the bad food as a wake up call to show them why it happened and to scare them into it not happening again. There is so much food there that Gordon tells them that they have enough food to serve it for the next year. John admits that it has got out of hand. Gordon tells John that he needs to let go of the past after he discovers that the Specials have not been changed since his parents passed away. Gordon makes John promise that he will step out of the pizzeria and step up as a manager. Gordon gives the restaurant a makeover, removing the awning and putting a new sign out the front. The interior is also changed with a tribute to John’s parents legacy with a photo of them on the wall and the menu is updated. 

On relaunch night, Gordon has invited food critics, bloggers and writers from the New York Observer. The kitchen gets off to a good start with the food being oushed out by Joe but John is not managing his staff and is found at the bar by Gordon and he steps up to the task and mingles with customers and takes control of his staff. After relaunch night there is positive reviews and comments from the critics and the restaurant is on it’s way back to being a successful restaurant. 

What Happened Next?  Business is reported to be up 10%. Some old favourites have been resurrected as requested by customers and some small changes have been made to menu items but John has kept Gordon's revised menu.

Further Reading

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  1. I went to Mama Maria's one afternoon for lunch. I walked into the restaurant and walked around for at least 5 minutes. I picked up a menu. I called out "hello" several times and no one ever came out from the back.

    Maybe the place is cleaner. Maybe the menu is simpler. Maybe they are making money.

    But, I will never walk into this restaurant again.

    1. wow...u left after waiting 2 minutes before being served...even in McDonalds you have to wait longer...idiot

    2. I agree with the above, 5 minutes is reasonable and if busy 10 is. The restaurant is not design to cater purely to you.

    3. Disagree. McDonalds is a junk food joint. This place is supposed to be a restaurant, and if it is actually open and a custimer walked in during opening times, you'd think that there would be some system in place to alert the staff to the fact. You'd think there would be at least one person 'in' the place to say something-anything to a customer. For a restaurant, what happened was bad form. I would probably also have left and gone to an eatery nearby.

    4. If you have been seated and told that someone will be serving you in a moment, then 5 minutes is not that bad. But if you go into a restaurant and nobody even notices you, then it is an unthinkable. If I walked in a restaurant and didn't find any staff in there, I doubt that I would have stayed even that long.