Kitchen Nightmares has certainly showcased some horrible restaurants over the course of its first seven seasons, but Mama Rita’s had never quite gotten off the ground.
Kitchen Nightmares has been on the air for a total of seven seasons and has now been rebooted for an eighth season.
However, amidst all of the grime, disgusting food and stubborn owners featured on the show, Mama Rita’s from the show’s third season still stands out as the worst restaurant in the history of the show.
About Kitchen Nightmares
When Chef Gordon Ramsay’s popular restaurant-rescue show, Kitchen Nightmares came to the United States in 2007, its producers did not change much about the series’ tried and true format.
And this proved to be the correct decision, as Kitchen Nightmares went on to air seven seasons between 2007 and 2014.
Kitchen Nightmares was recently rebooted for an eighth season, almost a decade later, in which Ramsay will tackle the challenge of saving even more failing restaurants from all across the country.
The worst restaurant from Kitchen Nightmares
Now that the much-awaited eighth season of Kitchen Nightmares has finally been announced, and is set to start airing before the end of 2023, it may be a good time to take a look at some of the most horrific restaurants which have been featured on the show so far.
As disgusting as it may seem, longtime Kitchen Nightmares fans will already know that dust, grime, and even rotten, moldy or cross-contaminated food and produce are pretty par for the course when it comes to Ramsay’s inspections of the kitchens and dining rooms on this show.
Thus, it is not entirely out of the ordinary for the experienced celebrity chef to shut down the restaurants which he has been asked to visit out of concern for diners’ safety.
But what happened at Mama Rita’s is almost worse, as this restaurant served almost completely inedible food out of a kitchen which was nearly spotless.
Mama Rita’s was a Mexican restaurant featured in the eighth episode of Kitchen Nightmares’ third season (which aired in 2010), and it is our winner for the worst of the worst, for various reasons.
By the time Ramsay arrived in Newbury Park, California to visit Mama Rita’s, the restaurant had only been open for about a year.
However, in that short time, Mama Rita’s had already managed to build up freezers full of old frozen food, which was dissuading customers from returning to the restaurant.
This even landed the owner of the restaurant, Laura Papenfus, in nearly $2 million of debt.
By the end of the episode, the situation at Mama Rita’s was so dire, that Ramsay had to call in his friend, Chef Naris Mardirosian, to help save the restaurant.
This makes Mama Rita’s one of the few restaurants on the show for which Ramsay required reinforcements.
What happened after the “Mama Rita’s” episode aired?
It was revealed during the “Mama Rita’s” episode that Chef Mardirosian had agreed to stay on as head chef at the restaurant for a few weeks after filming to make the transition easier.
However, it seems like many of Ramsay’s other improvement suggestions for Mama Rita’s fell by the wayside after the episode’s filming had finished.
Perla, Mama Rita’s previous head chef, was reinstated in her position after the show aired, despite the fact that Ramsay had suggested hiring a new head chef.
And some patrons also reported that the restaurant reverted back to its old menu shortly after Chef Mardirosian’s departure.
Is Mama Rita’s still open?
It seems as though Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares intervention was just not a good fit for Mama Rita’s and the restaurant eventually closed down in December of 2010, approximately nine months after this episode of Kitchen Nightmares aired.
The location where Mama Rita’s used to be was occupied by a new restaurant called The Local Table for a while, but this restaurant also recently closed down.
A few other honorable mentions
Mama Rita’s may be the worst restaurant in the history of Kitchen Nightmares, but it is not the only restaurant from the show which became notorious after its episode aired.
Some of the other honorable mentions from the first seven seasons of the show includes Amy’s Baking Company (season 6, episode 16), a restaurant which was so bad that Ramsay ultimately left about halfway through his rescuing efforts, and Old Neighborhood Restaurant (season 7, episode 3) which has been branded one of the dirtiest restaurants featured on the show.
It also includes Oceana (season 4, episode 14), a restaurant which got so much backlash after the episode that it ultimately filed a lawsuit against Ramsay and the Kitchen Nightmares team.