Most episodes of reality shows about rescuing troubled businesses -- "Kitchen Nightmares," "Bar Rescue," "Tabatha Takes Over" -- follow a story arc as reassuringly predictable as those in "Law & Order." In the first act, the ornery expert comes into the business and finds a plethora of problems. In the second act, the expert tries to convince the business owner to change, but outside advice is resisted. And in the third act, the business owner finally sees the error of their ways, follows the host's advice and finds tremendous success.
But what happens after the cameras stop rolling? In the case of Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares," at least, the restaurants often fail.
We know this because the straightforwardly named "Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Blog" tracks the success and failure of restaurants after they appear on the show. The blog's careful research reveals that a whopping 61 percent of all the restaurants that have ever been "saved" by Gordon Ramsay are now closed.
Unsurprisingly, the failure rate is highest for restaurants that were featured on the show longest ago; all but two of the restaurants on the first two seasons of the American "Kitchen Nightmares" are now closed. And just six of the 21 restaurants featured on the British version, which ended in 2009, remain open. Of those six survivors, just three are still owned by the same people who owned them when Ramsay stormed through their kitchens.
The restaurant business is notoriously tough, so we shouldn't be too surprised that some place that was open and struggling back in 2004, when the U.K. "Kitchen Nightmares" premiered, has since shuttered. But it does take some of the magic out of shows like this. Then again, perhaps we should have stopped believing in that type of magic long ago.