|"The team works overnight to remodel the restaurant."
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Before Gordon's Arrival
Laura, a single mom opened a restaurant and named it for her grandmother. Originally as a caterer, she was successful, but transitioning into a formal restaurant has been a challenge. Now she is in major debt and in grave danger of being foreclosed upon.
Gordon arrives and says it looks nice from the outside. Gordon asks Brad what to stay away from and Brad gives him a long list. He asks Cheryl what the problems are, and she has no answer.
Tamales, Chimichanga, Burrito
Impressions of the Food
Tamales-Gordon describes it as a soaking wet newspaper, and yet dry on the inside
Chimichanga-Gordon again pronounces the food dry. "Chimichanga? Chimi chuck it in the bin!"
Burrito-Gordon calls it gross and like eating wet cardboard
First Dinner Service
Gordon tells them plainly that you can't run a restaurant the same way you run catering. Gordon observes the dinner service. Food comes out very fast, mostly because Perla and the cooks rely heavily on microwaves. However, the customers are not happy. Gordon blasts Laura's business model, and says "All that's missing is the drive-thru". Gordon decides to inspect the kitchen. He finds a lot of frozen products and pre-prepared portions. Laura just says this is how she did catering. Gordon concludes that what she has is not a restaurant, and that it's a factory. Laura continues to defend herself by saying it worked for catering. Gordon says the food is sinking her.
Gordon says Laura is smart, but not being smart.
Remainder of the Visit
Gordon comes in the next day and decides to get rid of all the frozen products, worth $12,000. Laura and Perla arrive to find an empty kitchen. Gordon has laid it out and it covers the entire dining room. Some items are a whole year old. Laura decides to throw it all out. Gordon goes out and gathers past customers to talk to Laura. Some complained about the service. Others complained they got sick. Gordon and Laura promise their next experience will be different. Gordon lays out fresh shrimp and chicken and challenges Laura and Perla to make something with it. Gordon also decides to make something. Laura makes blackened shrimp tacos. Perla makes chicken breasts with garlic and salt. Gordon makes a flatiron steak with avocado butter. Gordon's dish and Laura's dish are praised by the staff, but they find Perla's uninspiring. Gordon declared his dish and Laura's the specials. The kitchen starts making mistakes and Laura loses patience, and decides to jump in. This gets them back on track, but then she backs off and challenges Perla and the cooks to step up. They don't. After service, Gordon declares that Perla is not a chef, however praises Laura's own performance. The next day, Gordon hires one of his own chefs, Naris.
Restaurant & Menu Remodel
As the restaurant already looks nice, Gordon only redesigns the menu.
Naris tries to inspire Perla. However, she just watches Naris do everything. Laura realizes Perla is still in catering mode. Even Naris is struggling to manage Perla and the cooks. Gordon pulls Laura aside and tells her Perla is not a chef. Laura is reluctant to fire her because she is a good friend who has been loyal. Gordon has Naris take over the line. This salvages the service. Perla and the cooks however are upset. Gordon implores Laura to learn all she can from Naris. Laura promises changes.
After Gordon's Departure
Naris continued to work with Laura, and Laura decided to promote another cook to chef, and move Perla to strictly catering. However, eventually Perla was back to being head chef and Laura abandoned Gordon's menu. Mama Rita's closed in 2010, but the catering side lasted much longer. Now Laura is marketing her own line of salsa.