Hot Potato Cafe appeared on "Kitchen Nightmares" in Season 3, Episode 1, marking Gordon Ramsay's first visit to the City of Brotherly Love and the first time he walked out on a restaurant, convinced the owners have no passion or drive to improve things. Sisters Claire and Kathryn Keller, with their sister-in-law, Erin Keller, opened Hot Potato Cafe in 2007 in Fishtown, a neighborhood in East Philadelphia where they grew up. While they thought it would be fun to open a neighborhood restaurant, they all underestimated how big of an undertaking it would be.
Eight months after opening, Philadelphia Weekly food critic Brian McManus visited the restaurant and was less than thrilled about the food, writing a scathing review titled "Spuddy Hell" about "strange" buffalo chicken dip, "brownish-gray liquid" potato soup, and green beans that were "flash-fried into oblivion." According to the sisters, the result was a suddenly empty restaurant devoid of customers. They invested their life savings into the business to keep it afloat.
None of them had worked in a kitchen, nor could they afford to hire staff, so they brought on Kathryn's niece, Danielle, to run the kitchen because she had some restaurant experience. However, the 21-year-old's previous experience wasn't nearly enough to turn the restaurant around.
Read more: The Untold Truth Of Kitchen Nightmares
What Happened To Hot Potato Cafe On Kitchen Nightmares?
When Gordon Ramsay arrives at Hot Potato Cafe, he asks an obvious question: "What do you think is wrong?" None of them can pinpoint exactly what's wrong and hesitate to answer. Even more confusing to Ramsay is that, when asked what the house specialties are, not one of the women says a potato. After dinner, Ramsay says he's done because he doesn't see any excitement or vigor left in the owners. They follow him down the sidewalk and plead with him to help, promising they are 100% committed and will put in the effort. They convince him, and he returns the next day and has them each make a hot potato dish. Danielle's dish is chosen to go on the menu that night, and she's visibly excited and energized.
Following the remodel, Ramsay shows them the overhauled menu and brings in restauranteur Richard Marsh to mentor Danielle. Everyone is excited about their first dinner with the new menu, but Ramsay's announcement that food critic McManus has reservations makes them all nervous. They're all relieved when he seems to enjoy all the dishes, even calling the soup "potato-rific." Dinner is the busiest it has been in two years, and everyone feels relieved and closer than they have in a while. Danielle decides maybe she does want to be a professional chef, and the three owners are optimistic they'll be able to catch up on bills and continue to be successful. It seems to be a happy ending to the Hot Potato Cafe's kitchen nightmare.
Hot Potato Cafe After Kitchen Nightmares
Gordon Ramsay's promotion of Hot Potato Cafe didn't end with the episode. He appeared on Fox29's Good Day Philadelphia with Claire and Danielle in May 2009 to discuss their episode and rave about the restaurant's turnaround. He also drove around the city on a double-decker tour bus with them, calling out to people to visit the Hot Potato Cafe.
It seems a lot happened between the filming of the episode in spring 2009 and its airing in January 2010 because, in a Temple News article in which Claire revealed they would be having a viewing party to watch their "Kitchen Nightmares" episode, chef Danielle wasn't mentioned. Instead, the article names their chef as Shaye Lee-Malloy. Danielle's LinkedIn page also lists her employment with Hot Potato Cafe ending in June 2009.
Even in Danielle's absence, reviews for the restaurant were predominantly positive. "Food and service had been good on prior occasions, but this time, it exceeded our expectations. Excellent table service, great presentation, and delicious food," wrote Lance I. on Yelp. Other diners praised the butter cake and the shepherd's pie and gave it an extra star for being BYOB.
Hot Potato Cafe Closed Eight Months Later
Despite the support from Gordon Ramsay, the rise in customers, and the renewed passion among the owners, Hot Potato Cafe closed in August 2010, 13 months after Danielle left and eight months after its "Kitchen Nightmares" episode aired. The restaurant's lease ended on August 31. Claire, Kathryn, and Erin decided that Hot Potato Cafe had run its course, and it was time to get out of the restaurant business.
There doesn't seem to be a reason why the Keller sisters finally decided they were done. While some of the Yelp reviews in Hot Potato Cafe's last couple of months were below three out of five stars, most were four stars, with diners reporting delicious food and friendly service.
Two years later, a whiskey bar and restaurant named Lloyd Whiskey Bar took over the vacant spot left by Hot Potato Cafe. With a dinner menu that includes churros, crab cakes, and chorizo double smash burgers, Lloyd is a popular addition to the Fishtown neighborhood and is going strong 12 years later, with a 4.2 out of 5-star rating on Yelp.
The Kellers Never Opened Another Restaurant
After closing Hot Potato Cafe, the Kellers moved on with their lives. It doesn't appear that any of them opened another restaurant. Kathryn Keller's Facebook profile says that she's employed by Southwest Airlines as a supervisor and moved to Hawaii, but her LinkedIn doesn't mention Hot Potato Cafe. Erin and Claire's social media is pretty quiet, with little reference to their work.
Danielle's name appears in some Reddit threads, with fans of the show feeling sympathy for the young head chef and wondering what happened to her after the show aired. "I think she was the most reasonable and passionate person in that family," posted one Redditor, curious about her circumstances.
After leaving Hot Potato Cafe, Danielle went on to several jobs. For the past seven years, she has worked for Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, first as a progressive care nurse and then as a float pool RN. Her LinkedIn shows that she worked as a bartender for eight years after Hot Potato Cafe closed but transitioned to nursing part-time several years after leaving the restaurant.
Read the original article on Mashed.