What really happened after Gordon Ramsay left Kitchen Nightmares’ El Greco

It seems as though Jake from El Greco undid most of Gordon Ramsay’s changes before the restaurant closed down.

There is no doubt that when the Gordon Ramsay and his Kitchen Nightmares team first made the trip to Austin to film at Jake and Athina Konstantinidis’s El Greco for the show’s fifth season, they expected the episode to turn out pretty much like every other episode in the show’s history.

However, this 2012 episode of the reality series has slowly become one of the most controversial episodes in the show’s now-eight-season history.

Despite Ramsay’s, Jake’s and Athina’s best efforts to keep this Greek restaurant open, El Greco ended up closing down before the Kitchen Nightmares episode even aired.

But while it is always extremely sad to see a beloved family-run business close its doors for good, several locals have provided some insight into why this Kitchen Nightmares makeover did not work its expected magic.

What Jake did after the Kitchen Nightmares episode was filmed

It turns out that El Greco (partly) reverted to its old ways pretty much the moment that Ramsay left the establishment.

One Reddit user reported in a thread from 2012 that Jake told their table “If you don’t like our new menu we can make it the old way too” almost immediately after Ramsay left.

This sentiment was later confirmed by another user who had a similar experience, where one of the waiters told them that they could order from the “new” or the “old” menu.

James Holbrook, who fans may recognize as El Greco’s former chef who was also included in this episode, alluded to the same thing in an interview with Eater Austin in 2011.

He stated that Jake has been cutting “Every corner imaginable” from Ramsay’s newly-introduced menu.

Unfortunately, since El Greco closed down so quickly, Jake has never addressed these rumors himself.

Nor has there been any real update about what this former El Greco co-owner and the other Konstantinidis family members have been up to since the restaurant closed.

The El Greco timeline

It is always confusing when a restaurant closed its doors in real life before it could be re-launched on screen.

But in the end, Jake and Athina managed to keep El Greco’s doors open for just over four years, as is shown in this timeline:

Date Event
2007 Jake and Athina Konstantinidis launch El Greco
August to September, 2011 Kitchen Nightmares filming crews arrive at the restaurant
December 2011 El Greco closes
January 20, 2012 “El Greco” Kitchen Nightmares episode premieres

The reason why El Greco closed down

Like most of the other details surrounding El Greco since the Kitchen Nightmares episode aired, the reason for the restaurant’s closure is still unclear.

A few different sources have claimed that the restaurant closed down due to continued financial difficulties. This makes sense, since Athina told Ramsay that she had invested $800,000 into the business.

But one Reddit commenter who claimed to “indirectly know someone” and who worked at El Greco before its closure posited that the restaurant may have closed on account of a family emergency instead.

James’s take on El Greco

It is certainly not rare for Kitchen Nightmares to showcase rows between the owners and the chefs of the restaurants featured on the series.

But James felt so strongly that this episode had been a “waste for Kitchen Nightmares”, that he shared a few behind-the-scenes details about what happened after the fact with Austin Eater.

James told this local publication that Jake was “very controlling and degrading to work with” and that he, along with most of the restaurant’s other staff members, had left the eatery shortly after Ramsay did in 2011.

The controversy that surrounds this episode

El Greco is certainly not the only Kitchen Nightmares restaurant which closed before its episode aired, but it is one of the few cases from the show where it seems like no one could agree about whether Ramsay’s changes helped or hurt.

And while some reviewers, like Culture Map Austin’s Adam Sparks and South Asian Foodie, have insisted that Ramsay’s intervention removed some of the menu’s authentic Greek flair, others thought that Ramsay’s updates were a necessary improvement to the struggling business.

Although this argument has now become a moot point after El Greco’s closure, it is noteworthy that Vasilis “Vasi” Kaloidis, the owner of Vasi’s Restaurant and Bar (another Greek restaurant featured on Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back in 2019) seemingly had the same issue.

Vasi told the estitator, “there are still people that look for the French onion soup, while others are excited about the fresh fish and octopus”.