In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Gordon Ramsay visits Lela’s in downtown Pomona, California.
Lela’s is a fine dining restaurant, owned by Lela Guillen. The restaurant has only been open for 8 months but is days away from closing.
Lela has invested her savings and cashed in her retirement to fund the restaurant and currently owes $124,000 including $60,000 she borrowed from her.
She has problems with her staff as waitress Tabitha and Chef Ricky do not get along and frequently argue in front of customers.
Gordon arrives and compares the very quiet area to a ghost town and the restaurant is empty too.
Gordon is impressed with how clean the restaurant is. He meets Tabitha and notices the spelling mistakes on the menu.
Many of the items Gordon wants to order are unavailable including shrimps and salmon and Tabitha isn’t happy to tell Gordon items are not available.
From the limited menu he orders tomato and basil soup, nachos and rack of lamb with a mint chocolate sauce.
When it arrives the food is disappointing, the fresh soup tastes canned, the nachos taste old and the lamb has no meat on the bones.
Gordon asks Tabitha if anything on the menu is fresh and is told that it is all frozen. The nachos were also made the day before.
Gordon asks if anything on the menu is home made on the premises and they make brownies so he orders one but a huge argument breaks out between Tabitha and Ricky as there are no brownies left.
Gordon arrives the next day and decides to inspect the kitchen.
The walk-in isn’t cold, it smells and there is congealed blood in the bottom. As the fridge is too hot all of the produce in it is going bad.
Gordon asks the staff deep clean the dining room and kitchen, including the disgusting walk in.
Whilst they are cleaning the restaurant, Gordon goes into town to find out how the locals feel about fine dining.
In the town he finds it is young and vibrant and has lot of young hip people who like to eat good food but who can’t afford fine dining.
No one he speaks to has been to Lela’s and they eat at the local Mexican restaurants as they are more in their price range.
Gordon returns and is pleased with how clean the restaurant now is. He wants to observe a dinner service and it is busier than usual due to a theatre performance nearby.
The service is a disaster as the kitchen runs out of many of the dishes on the menu and they serve the customers powdered mash potato.
Lela is shocked and tells Gordon that she didn’t know that they were serving instant potatoes and says she thinks he is a little lazy.
Buzzard is constantly eating and the kitchen staff are very laid back, chatting and Ricky is on his mobile phone.
Buzzard decides to leave early and walks off without permission and Gordon catches up with him and asks him to return to the restaurant.
He returns and his goody bag containing a sandwich, salad, lamb, pasta and a bottle of wine is unpacked and revealed to Lela.
One of the other staff members say that he hasn’t seen him do it in a while, suggesting that he has done it before and Riky suggests they thought he was stealing but hadn’t caught him.
After the service Gordon asks Ricky where his professionalism is and tells him that he isn’t an Executive Chef if he is serving powdered mash.
The next morning, Buzzard returns to the restaurant and Gordon confronts him about the goody bag, telling him that nothing should get taken from the premises without permission.
Lela has no option other than to fire him for stealing from her.
Gordon sets up a taste test to see what the Chefs know about food and if they can taste the difference between meats.
Ricky struggles to tell the difference between chicken, pork and beef, whereas sous chef Lex gets them all correct.
In light of the taste test Gordon suggests they switch places for the service, Ricky is annoyed but agrees.
Gordon sends Lela off for a pampering day whilst the team gets to work making changes at the restaurant.
The new menu is revealed and the waitresses sample the new dishes including a Pomona salad.
He adds that a good burger is needed as no one else serves them and he reveals Lela’s Famous Burger as a special.
Gordon sends them out onto the street with a catering truck full of burgers to promote them to the locals.
The locals are thrilled with the burgers and are pleased to hear there will be a new restaurant they can try.
Whilst they are out, the makeover team are in and redesign the restaurant.
Both Lela and the restaurants new look are revealed and the staff are over the moon, Tabitha bursts into tears.
For relaunch night, Gordon asks Tabitha to manage the restaurant and Lex to be the head chef with Rickys support.
Gordon has invited local artists, students, car enthusiasts and the mayor to the fully booked restaurant.
The waitresses do an excellent job at the front of house but Lex struggles in the kitchen as Executive Chef and with no food leaving in the first 30 minutes he has a meltdown.
The food comes out erratically and some tables are missing dishes. As the customers start complaining the waitresses panic and grab whatever food they see.
Lex walks out and Lela follows him to shout at him but Lex drives off. Ricky steps up and takes over the kitchen.
With Ricky back in control the food starts to go out and everyone is impressed with the food including the mayor branding the salad the official meal for Pomona.
Lex returns to the kitchen to finish the service but as Ricky’s assistant.
Gordon congratulates Ricky and admits that he really proved Gordon wrong by stepping up.
What Happened Next at Lela’s?
At the end of the episode we hear that both Ricky and Tabitha excelled in their roles as Executive Chef and Manager.
Lela’s closed in 2007 as although business had improved Lela’s debts were too high.
Yelp reviews were mostly negative.
In it’s place now is Aladdin Jr Restaurant & Cafe, an Arab restaurant with good reviews.
After Lela’s Ricky went on to become Executive Chef at The Corner Butcher Shop in La Verne.
He later worked for Silver Spoon Catering and is currently working at Hollywood Park Casino.
Lela’s aired on November 21 2007, the episode was filmed in February 2007 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 1 episode 8.
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This post was last updated in February 2022.