Amy’s Baking Company: A Real Life Kitchen Nightmare
Tricia Romano on the strange tale unfolding on Yelp and Facebook after an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares.”
A restaurant featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Fox reality show Kitchen Nightmares is living a real-life nightmare—on its Facebook and Yelp pages. Viewers, appalled at what they saw on the show—the owners of Amy’s Baking Company were shown pocketing the staff’s tips; it was revealed by Ramsay that the raviolis, like the restaurant’s famed baked goods, weren’t made on site—took to social media to complain.
Customers weighed in on Yelp: one reader called the owner “a psychopath,” another said, “This place makes Subway or MacD seem like fine dining,” and another described Amy’s as an “Awesome restaurant if you're a masochist! I've been insulted, humiliated and put down so many times in an evening that I got my fill for a year.“
In the episode, the two owners of the Scottsdale, Arizona, restaurant, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, are depicted as being abusive to customers, unable to take criticism, and disorganized and rude. At the top of the show, Amy said of running a restaurant: “It’s not all daisies, ponies, and unicorns.”
That’s putting it lightly.
Amy is quoted saying: “The customer is not always right,” and Samy said: “If anyone tells me my wife’s food is no good, I tell them not to come back.”
That turned out to be an understatement. At one point, he is shown screaming at a customer who is upset that he’s been waiting for an hour for a pizza, pointing his finger in the customer’s face and physically threatening him: “Fuck you! Out! Get out of here!”
Later, Amy calls a waitress who was double-checking an order, “a poisonous little viper.” The young waitress who looks all of 16 years old, bursts into tears as she quits.
Viewers were upset over the treatment of the staff, most notably the pocketing of tips by the owners. A waitress on the show told Ramsay that she was paid by the hour, and didn’t receive any of the tips that customers left on their bills.
The couple was so difficult that even the typically hardened Ramsay decided he couldn’t help them and shut the show down before beginning the rehab phase.
After hundreds of outraged customers and viewers besieged the restaurants’ Facebook and Yelp pages, the couple fought back in a series of ALL CAPS LOCK postings on Facebook, many of which have since been deleted.
One post read, “WE ARE NOT FREAKING OUT. WE DO NOT CARE ABOUT A "WITCH HUNT" I AM NOT A WITCH. I AM GODS CHILD. PISS OFF ALL OF YOU. FUCK REDDITS, FUCK YELP AND FUCK ALL OF YOU. BRING IT. WE WILL FIGHT BACK.”
Read another, from Samy: “To all of the Yelpers and Reddits: Bring it on. you are just pussies. come to arizona. you are weaker than my wife, and weaker than me. come to my business. say it to my face. man to man. my wife is a jewel in the desert. you are just trash. reddits and yelpers just working together to bring us down. Pathetic.”
And another: “This is Samy. I am keeping note of all names here. We will be pursuing action against you legaly, and against reddit and yelp, for this plot you have come together on. you are all just punks.”
Even prior to Sunday’s show, the couple told Ramsay they were no strangers to fighting online backlash: “These reviewers and bloggers decided to make up lies and say that the food was disgusting. We lost a tremendous amount of business because they’re just fucking haters,” Amy said.
She told a stunned-looking Ramsay: “We stand strong together. We have to because there are a lot of online bullies and haters and bloggers. We stand up to them, and I think we are the only ones I think who ever have as restaurant owners. They say horrible things that are not true.”
At one point, Ramsay is shown crowing over one of their desserts. “This is beautiful,” he says. Later, readers posted evidence on the Facebook page that showed that the desserts are made elsewhere.
Indeed, in the entire episode, Amy is never shown making a single dessert.
After the episode aired, it appeared that Amy took to the Facebook page to defend the policy of reselling desserts made at another restaurants. “I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD. IT IS NOT UNCOMMON TO RESELL THINGS WALMART DOES NOT MAKE THEIR ELECTRONICS OR TOYS SO LAY OFF!!!!”
They also claimed they did not in fact take the tips from their servers, posting on the Facebook page: “We do not, nor have we ever stolen or taken any of our servers, waitresses, or waiters tips at Amy’s Baking Company. We pay our staff members anywhere between $8.00 to $14.00 per hour to ensure that at the end of the week regardless of it being busy or not, that they go home with money and a well paid paycheck. As do many other restaurants. They are aware of this when they are hired. I would challenge any of our employees past or present to come forward with proof that we have ever done such a horrible thing.”
But at press time, the couple claimed that they had never posted any of these statements: “Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things. Thank You Amy & Samy.”