In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Gordon Ramsay visits La Gondola in Derby, UK.
La Gondola is a Venetian Restaurant that opened in 1968 and had a great reputation and was popular with diners.
Owner Daniela Bayfield had fond memories of the restaurant, spending both her 21st birthday and wedding there.
When the restaurant came up for sale she jumped at the chance to own a place where she had many good memories.
La Gondola is a 125-seater restaurant with a 21-bedroom hotel attached.
Gordon arrives and meets Daniela and he is impressed with the preserved decor.
Daniela tells him they only have a table of four reserved for dinner on a Friday night.
She had been through a family grievance and a divorce and bought the restaurant on a spur of the moment.
The customers are mostly older and have been visiting the restaurant for many years.
Gordon notes that even the menu is dated, mostly non-Italian but there are about 100 dishes on offer.
Gordon eats a starter of spaghetti bolognese, which takes a long time to arrive and the portion is huge for the price.
The salmon main is also large with a dated sprinkling of parsley on the plate.
Gordon meets head chef Steve, who has been there since 1975 but hasn’t changed with the times.
There is a 70th birthday party booked in but there aren’t many events booked in at the restaurant.
The Functions and Marketing Manager, Stella Fedrigo, says they have 9 weddings booked but they need at least 30 weddings a year to make a good profit.
With 25 customers in the restaurant the kitchen runs into trouble cooking for the party, running out of tuna steak and all of the dishes are covered in sauce.
They turn to plan B which is a substitute of a tin of tuna and the dishes are served silver service style.
Stella messes up and a wrong dish is sent to a customer but instead of making the changes Steve picks a fight with her.
They say that they serve reheated and microwaved food because they lack the manpower to cook from fresh.
Daniela has put £500,000 into it so far but Gordon tells her that the restaurant a sinking ship with lazy kitchen staff.
Daniela was unaware of the corners cut in the kitchen and was horrified when she finds out.
Both Steve and Gareth come in late to work the next day and Gordon lets staff know that the restaurant on its own wouldn’t be standing.
On a Sunday afternoon there’s only three diners in the restaurant and they have had slower days with nothing to do.
Number 2 in the kitchen Gareth is not motivated and says he watches the clock until it’s time to go home.
Only the teenage apprentice Danny seems enthusiastic in the service.
Steve says he doesn’t stand for nonsense in his kitchen with the staff.
Gordon checks their cupboard and sees powder minestrone soup and it is revealed they make fresh minestrone soup and mix it with the powdered soup 50/50 to save costs.
Gordon points out to the owner and chef that they are basically giving away money in the pricing of their meals.
An example was made of the lamb meal with them giving away £5 per meal by underpricing the dish.
They argue and point at each other for this error with Gareth arguing with the owner.
Gordon takes the kitchen staff to see Rolls Royce cars and highlights how they not just moved with the times but stayed ahead of the times.
He then challenges the staff to make some pasta from scratch and they are excited with the process and Gordon’s instructions.
Danny makes a salad bowl, which Gordon finds lovely and they set a two pasta dish menu special.
Jo Barnes, the head of PR for Gordon’s company consults for them on the relaunch.
She notes it would be ideal to refurbish, rebrand and relaunch but the restaurant has some authentic history they can work with including the ballroom.
Stella and Daniela show them their newspaper ad in a questionable section.
They both argue with Gordon on the reputation of the restaurant believing they still have customers.
Gordon sparks a marketing plan to serve business leaders in the community for a luncheon.
The kitchen is tasked with serving the diners in under 45 mins.
The pasta dishes are a hit but service is slow. Steve is not leading or communication and the kitchen is quiet.
The dishes are mixed up, tables are double served and this is all due to poor management of the tickets.
Gordon is stressed out by how inefficient and unmotivated the kitchen is.
Gordon has Steve cook a dish using fresh ingredients in a bid to motivate him.
Steve forgets to de-scale the trout and the meal tastes awful.
Gareth is next, the sauce is thick and spoils the dish while the last cook serves an underdone chicken dish.
Gordon points out the need to streamline the menu from 89 dishes and teaches them a new simpler modern dinner menu.
He also takes time to put Danny through prepping vegetables and teaches him basic cooking skills.
Gordon helps Stella and Daniella makes changes to the front of the restaurant getting rid of the plastic table flowers.
Martin the server used to do Flambés table-side and Gordon is impressed with the service and the taste and puts it back on the menu.
The dance floor is resurrected and a house band is hired for the service.
They have double the customers booked in as the business dinner is expected.
The restaurant prepares for the relaunch and Danny is put in charge of the staff dinner.
Danny does great with Daniella praising his effort on the meal for the staff.
Steve is nervous, admits he isn’t eating well and hands over the hotplate to Gordon.
Gordon runs the kitchen giving instructions to the staff and hands over to Steve halfway through.
Customers love the flambe, music, food and service during their meals.
Steve struggles with the running of the kitchen and he admits his communication could have been better.
They made £2000 in one night compared to the £500 they made the whole of the previous week.
They are shown how hard work can make them the money they need.
Danny is to be given more responsibility as he shows promise, Gareth is more motivated to work at his role and Steve needs to learn how to be more vocal and take control of his kitchen.
What Happened Next at La Gondola?
Four months later, Gordon revisits and finds out Steve left as soon as filming was done and is working in a pub microwaving food.
He also took Gareth with him to his new location.
A new Chef, Wayne has been hired after 4 months of going through different head chefs.
Danny is still there and Gordon sits to sample the food and service.
He is happy with it all including the Flambe service and live music.
Sales have quadrupled since Gordon first came.
Daniela is grateful and optimistic about the future.
The Trip Advisor reviews after closure are mostly negative.
La Gondola closed to guests in 2007 and went into voluntary liquidation but the Hotel remained open for Wedding Receptions.
The hotel has since closed and remains abandoned as below. The website however appears to live on!
In 2012, planning permission was submitted to demolish part of the building and build an appartment block but this was refused by the local council.
Owner Daniella Bayfield sadly died in her sleep in July 2019.
The hotel was listed at auction in October 2020 but failed to sell at £709,000. The listing describes the hotel as beyond economic repair.
La Gondola aired on March 14 2006, the episode was filmed in July 2005 and is Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares UK season 3 episode 4.
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This post was last updated in February 2022.