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La Frite Restaurant Survives 'Kitchen Nightmares'

The popular bistro was criticized by chef Gordon Ramsey on his television show, but changes were made and business has improved.

It's been nearly a year since renowned chef Gordon Ramsey brought his television show "Kitchen Nightmares" into La Frite restaurant in Sherman Oaks, and tore through the place like a hurricane, reducing co-owner Celene Ramillon to tears.

Ramsey pointed out that the food was not well-prepared, the chef was not a prize, and management of the family-owned restaurant needed improvement.

"It was hard to take," said Ramillon, "but in the end it helped us grow, and we altered the approach to running the place."

"We've been in business for the past 40 years, when the place was opened by my father, and we needed to change some of the things we were doing," Ramillon said.

Ramsey is often brutal in his critiques of restaurants in the one-hour show on Fox Television. In the show about La Frite, Ramsey was critical of how the kitchen was being run. He also said the menu needed to be changed.

"No question about it, he got us to change the menu," Ramillon said. "We used to have one menu all day. Now we have seperate menus for lunch and dinner. Our new lunch menu features authentic French-style crepes. We're also adding steak and eggs, creole salad and a fish dish.

"The food is much healthier, there's less butter in the cooking, lots of new salads," she said.

In the past, La Frite received high marks from restaurant critics,  and it's been one of Sherman Oak's most popular eateries. But business was suffering when Ramsey came along and convinced the owners to shake things up.

Alex Ramillon and his sister Celine did not work well together. Ramsey stepped in and taught them to cooperate and enjoy working as a team.

"No question about it, allowing Gordon Ramsey to attack us on television was a painful experience, but it made us better, stronger and our customers have come back to enjoy the changes. It was actually good for business," said Celine as she smiled, looking at a room full of customers having lunch.

Mattey's Mom March 02, 2012 at 03:06 AM
I didn't know about the TV show but am heartened by hearing about an updated menu & other improvements. I had been a customer since my college days when it was "Yellow Fingers" but after several disappointing meals in the past couple of years we struck this charming eatery off our list. After reading this article I am ready to try them again. Thanks for posting the article.
Saucheech Pepperman June 11, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Finally an establishment that survived Gordon! The owners were able to pull together and change. They are still open which is a rarity after a Ramsey visit. Martin is an arogant ass, no soup for you, Just sayin!! I did however like the yellow and blue decor. Good luck and continued success.

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