AUSTIN, TEXAS – It doesn’t appear that 2012 is going to be a good year at El Greco restaurant in Central Austin.
The once popular campus eatery shut down operations in mid-December. As of January 1, there is still old food sitting in refrigerator display cases and stickers and notes from unpaid vendors are posted on the front door.
The reason? Many are pointing their fingers at the notoriously obnoxious TV chef Gordon Ramsay. El Greco was supposed to of have been featured on Ramsay’s FOX reality TV show Kitchen Nightmares in mid-October, but it has never aired. And there are indications that bad blood infused by the production of the El Greco segment dealt a death knell to the already troubled restaurant. It seems as though Ramsay’s overbearing approach works on TV, but not always in real life.
El Greco opened in 2007 and is owned by transplanted New Yorker Chef Jake Konstantinidis and his mother Athena. El Greco’s website is still up and running, but it’s Facebook page seems to have gone silent. The last posts are from would be customers on December 20, 2011:
El Greco was reportedly having financial troubles before Ramsey and the production crew from Kitchen Nightmares arrived. But some employees say that Ramsay’s demands and menu changes turned the menu from authentic Greek fare into fast food McGreek.
El Greco cook James Holbrook quit shortly after Ramsay’s changes were instituted. Hollbrook claims other staff, including the lead cook, quit as well. Hollbrook told Eater Austin:
The quality of the produce used is steadily going downhill. Every corner imaginable is being cut from Ramsay’s new menu [...] I was hoping things would turn around, that I could help him get out of his “Restaurateurs Slump”. El Greco was a waste for Kitchen Nightmares
Reviews of Ramsay’s revamped Greek menu have not been positive either. One longtime customer opined on Chowhound:
Remember the lemony hummus? Best I’ve had, and I love lemon. GONE. Now it’s like a huge jar of it from some vendor. and it takes like sh@#.
Remember the Avgolemono chicken soup, those fraction of a hair thin strands of chicken swimming in there and that light lemony delicateness and richness?? gone, welcome to cambell’s-ville. something more stewy and entirely canned. gross.
Remember the tender seasoned pita? Now it’s crispy, dry, overly toasted stale tasting. crap.
Remember the pork you got precious little of but it was so good you may have ordered it often? Gone. No pork to be found at El Greco any longer.
The fate of the Kitchen Nightmares El Greco segment isn’t known. It appears that it may have been left on the cutting room floor. Its October air-date has come and gone. El Greco customers have been asking on the restaurant’s Facebook page when the segment will air. The last response from El Greco was on on December 13:
Who follows the show? Wonder why our episode hasn’t been in the line up… stay tuned