Friday, May 31, 2013

Crazy Crazy Poopy Poop

I realize the title of this post might be less than appetizing for a food blog, but when I started typing the word "crazy," the rest followed automatically. It was something my beloved parakeet, Cuervo, liked to say frequently. But that's apropos of nothing. Maybe even a little bit crazy itself. But that's the theme of this post, so we'll go with it.


By now, almost everyone has heard of Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, owners of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Arizona. They were the subject of an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares in May, and they proved themselves to be batshit crazy. Now, I'm inclined to believe that half of everything seen on Kitchen Nightmares (and probably the Food Network's rip-off show, Restaurant Impossible) is faked, and Amy's food might not have been as disgusting as Ramsay said it was, but I'm pretty sure the reactions of Samy and Amy were real. Not only did they seem completely off their rockers on the show, but they apparently went on a tirade on their Facebook page after the show aired, later insisting they were hacked.

The Bouzaglos--Amy in particular--maintains that they appeared on Kitchen Nightmares to show the world that they made great food and that the haters on popular restaurant review site, Yelp, were just that - haters. There certainly are a lot of people commenting on the restaurant's Yelp page, but the vast majority seem to be bandwagon whores who have seen the show and feel the need to add their two cents - most of the unfiltered posts are dated May 2013. To see the real crazy, look for the older reviews. In them, you'll find Samy calling a customer who had a bad experience "insane," telling others they are lying about eating in the restaurant at all, and telling another diner that Olive Garden would probably be more to her liking.

And to continue the tide of good press, the Bouzaglos recently kicked out reporters from the Phoenix Business Journal because they had the audacity to find flies in their cocktails. Three times. And things don't seem to be getting any better for the Bouzaglos. Allegedly they have some other issues that may involve criminal records and potential deportation. Of course, neither of those should have any bearing whatsoever on how they run their restaurant or treat their customers.

If you want to keep up with Amy and Samy, you can follow their exploits on Eater.

Oh, and this just in - Amy and Samy might get their own reality show.

The Bouzaglos aren't the only extreme characters in the restaurant business, just the most (in)famous du jour. A local Baltimore restaurateur, Denise Whiting, also appeared on Kitchen Nightmares. Like the Bouzaglos, she wanted her appearance on the show to help right a wrong. Her Hampden restaurant, Café Hon, was losing business because of her unwise decision to claim ownership of the word "hon," a term of endearment used in the Baltimore area way before Whiting blew into town.

What started out as a simple trademark to protect her use of the word on Café Hon-branded merchandise turned into a public relations nightmare. When the public started hearing how she insisted on final approval of the MTA's ad campaign for their CharmCard fare system because it used the word "hon," as well as how she bullied a concessionaire at the airport into giving her all of his hon merchandise, they turned against her. Whiting soon became the Most Hated Woman in Town and eventually conceded in order to save her business. She then played along with Gordon Ramsay and allowed him to change both the decor and menu of Café Hon. Recently, Whiting re-renovated Café Hon, getting rid of Ramsay's alterations. Hopefully they're also changing the menu and getting rid of the "sandwiches served with Utz potato chips and a pickle from the grill." Grilled pickles? (Psst: proper grammar is your friend).

I'm not sure what good any of it did, if putting on a show of pseudo-humility brought customers back to Café Hon. The shitstorm may be over, but I know folks who say they'll never go back. Thank goodness for tourists, huh?

And then there's Alchemy. While the food wasn't bad, the service was atrocious. And judging by the first comment left on the post I wrote about our experience, someone there (owner? server? manager?) is a complete loon. Maybe he or she should go work for the Bouzaglos.

Have you had personal experience with batshit crazy restaurant owners/staff? Have you ever been to Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale? If the answer to either or both questions is yes, we'd love to read your comments!

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