Friday, 7 December 2012

US Season 6 - Ms Jean's Southern Cuisine - OPEN

Open or closed? OPEN
Location: Wilkinsburg, PA

Episode Summary: Ms Jeans Southern Cuisine was opened 12 years ago by retired teacher Jean Gould after cooking for her local church and being persuaded to open a restaurant. The cooks think that the owner has an attitude problem and has split personality changing from being friendly to being mean. When customers complain Jean seeks to argue with them and accuse them of lying. She is deep in debt and the restaurant is empty on most nights. Jean approaches Gordon at his hotel in her car with a peach cobbler in one hand. She asks him to talk before they go to the restaurant. She says her biggest problems are the staff, who are always on their phones and are lazy also that she is doing everyone’s jobs. Gordon arrives at the restaurant and there is no-one there to greet him. He meets the staff and tells them what Jean said about them, they retaliate by saying that she has an attitude. Jean says she isn’t mean and that she gets no respect from her staff.

Gordon sits down to try the menu and tries to order key soul food dishes such as chitlin dinner, fried corn, red beans, black eyed peas, whiting, veggie platter, sweet potato pie and  mashed potato only to find out that none of them are available as well as no gravy! He then orders pork chops, ribs and mac and cheese. His iced tea is “like sugar syrup” and he sends it back asking for water instead. Jean argues it is meant to be sweet. He gets up for a walk about and finds Ms Jeans exercise bike randomly in the corridor. He speaks to two customers and noticing that ones bun on her burger was soggy and looked as though it had been sat on he sends her food back. Jean lets out her frustration out on her staff. Gordons ribs arrive first to his table, he says they have a weird saltiness as if they have been in a brine. The mac and cheese arrives to the table still sizzling and bubbling from being heated in a microwave, he says it is depressing, bland, overcooked and dreadful. The pork chop is cooked in a full pan of grease and Gordon thinks it looks sad and depressing on a plate alone, he stands it up, it is also dry like a mouthful of sand. Ms Jean tastes the dishes he returns and she does not take the criticism well saying her dishes are fine and he doesn’t know anything about soul food.

Gordon returns to watch a dinner service he compares the reception to be like a waiting room for a doctors surgery and has some banter with the staff and customers with “the doctor will see you now”. There is chaos in the kitchen to start with as the orders are stuck on the fridge. Jean attempts to control the kitchen but the servers decide they are going to do their own thing, doing their own tickets. Surprisingly the food gets out to the dining room but the customers are not impressed with overcooked pork chops. Gordon ventures out to reception to find the hostess on the cell phone. Gordon informs Jean that she was on her cell phone and after an exchange she quits and leaves the restaurant. Gordon notices that a lot of chicken is being returned to the kitchen and discovers that the dry chicken is leftover from the lunch service. Jean breaks down in a big way and you can see her genuine anguish (it actually made me cry) and how much her staff really do care.  After what Gordon has witnessed he sits down Jean and the Chefs and tells them no one seems to care, they agree to work together and improve the current “horrendous” system which is not working.
Gordon takes Jean and her staff to a theatre to show them “The Other Side of Ms Jean”, a movie featuring criticism from past customers explaining why they won’t step foot in the place.

The next day he brings the owner and staff to a movie theater and shows them the world premiere of "The Other Side of Ms. Jean." The short film features frank critique by past customers, who explain why they won't return to the restaurant and focuses on that she doesn’t care, is mean and does not treat the customers well. They return to the restaurant and former diners have been gathered. Jean apologises to everyone she feels have been treated bad and promises they will not be served without a smile and that she is a new Ms Jean. Gordon gives the restaurant one of the biggest makeovers he has ever done. It looks like a COMPLETELY different place and he has nearly doubled the capacity from 45 to 75 seats. Gordon also revamps the menu in a big way. The new food is southern comfort food with a fun twist including catfish po’boy, barbecued pulled pork sliders, oxtail and blacked or fried catfish, they really go to town sampling the menu and are delighted with it.

For relaunch night the Mayor comes out to try the new restaurant. Gordon puts Jean in charge of the kitchen and the staff respond well to the new leadership and new system. Appetisers make their way out to the customers quickly and they are impressed with the new menu. The front of house lets down the service by not responding when their food is ready and slowing down the kitchen. The servers are under pressure and Marissa starts to feel the pressure and breaks down. Gordon stops the service temporarily and Jean gives her a pep talk and acts like a leader. The Mayor is impressed with the food as are the other customers. Gordon chats to them all after service and declares that “Ms Mean” has left the building.

What happened next? In the following days, the Mayor awarded Jean for her years of service to the community and June 3rd was declared Ms Jeans day. Ms Jeans is still open but has moved the location of the restaurant to another premises.
Extra Reading

Ms Jeans Urban Spoon

'Kitchen Nightmares' versus 'Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine' Pittsburgh
Gordon Ramsay redoes Miss Jean's Southern Cuisine in Wilkinsburg (Review)

Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine brings the South up north (Before KN)

Love Hotel Hell? Visit my Hotel Hell blog here.


  1. I just drove past Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine today in Wilkinsburg. Sadly it is no longer open. From what I understand they went back to the old menu and then they closed.
    I have lived in Pittsburgh all my life and, unfortunately Wilkinsburg is one of the most depressed areas near (technically not in) the city. Nothing short of a miracle would keep a restaurant open in this location.
    There are at least a hundred restaurants in Pittsburgh that Gordon could have had a success story with. The show should look around a little more when they pick the spots to fix up. I'd really like to try a restaurant that has been on KN but I don't want to drive 100+ miles to do it. So many of these restaurants seem to want to get on the show for publicity but not actually take the advice. I wish they would have done one of those shots showing Gordon driving up to the place on the street, that way everyone could see - no amount of publicity would make people want to park their car in this neighborhood at night. If you're not from Wilkinsburg, you're not going to go there to eat at a restaurant.
    They showed Gordon coming out of the William Penn Hotel downtown and he probably drove past dozens of better candidates on the way. Such a shame.

    1. I have been told that it is not closed but that it has moved location? I will keep my eyes and ears open...

    2. Yep, they moved. Website here:

    3. Ms jeans new address
      Address: 807 Wallace Avenue,
      Wilkinsburg PA 15221
      Contact : (412) 723-2042
      Website :

    4. " From what I understand they went back to the old menu and then they closed."
      Typical idiot who watches too much reality TV. First off, you knew less than a turtle living in Toronto - they didn't close, they moved. Secondly, just because your almighty Chef Ramsay fails miserably in "bringing back" a restaurant (which by the way is always true as he's failed in every single restaurant he's taken on in USA), it doesn't mean that they "went back to the old menu". The truth is that - these restaurants failed for more foundational reasons (such as being located in a "depressing" location as you put it), and everytone knows it - even Ramsay - but that doesn't stop him or some other greedy a-hole in California to make a buck out of someone's misery while Rome is burning.

    5. So you have this bad opinion of Chef Ramsey but yet you come onto his site to complain. Sounds like you're the one who watches too much reality tv. The fact is and like it or not Ramsey's success rate for saving these places is around 30% and considering that these places are usually in so much debt before he gets there I'm surprised his success rate is that high. But I'm sure you can do better.

    6. 30% success rate? I mean, don't get me wrong I'm not the dude who has commented here, but I believe the failure rate is more like 95% LOL! You must have been studying math while taking meth! lol. Anyways, I love the show because it's funny and entertaining, though I think everyone pretty much knows Gordon is a joke.

    7. The success rate is 37% (amy baking company not accounted for.) So the above poster was not on meth when he took math and was very close. He's right about the success rate being that high considering the problems the restaurants have when he gets there. There seems to be a big difference between Chef Ramsey and Chef Irving ive always wondered why.

    8. Irving takes on small businesses and while they may be in debt, it's never to the extent Ramsay's are.

    9. Aww, how cute. A couple of people who say Ramsey is a joke. Jealousy has such a neat way of making itself show. Greedy? I think not, people ask him to come....he doesn't go knocking door to door. A joke? Seems pretty knowledgeable about food. Before you go posting crap about someone, you should a) not hide behind an anonymous comment and b) prove yourself better. And to the oh-so-smart reply about me posting anonymous as i'm not knocking someone and b) i'm too lazy to sign in :P In short, if you're a hater: get a life. Successful, confident, educated, and mature people are tired of hearing/reading your thoughts.

  2. FYI to the OP - they have since done Levanti's in Beaver, PA (which is probably the next closest to Pittsburgh). Just went there recently and it's good food. :) And if you go, might want to check out Kretchmar's Bakery or one of the ice cream/yogurt places up the street (within walking distance). :D

  3. Just watched the episode here in Hong Kong on our cable box. BBC channel. I have seen most of his shows, both UK & US. Gordon shows all rest operators and owner the way. From your list 80% are closed. And now it seems Ms Jeans has done the same or what I see on line moved location. Gordon made her a new rest and menu. Yet from what you all say, changed back to the old "cant make money-bad unsellable food" way. Why do owners do that?? Why do they not follow Gordons rules??. Once they get to try Gordons new menu. they all say Oh My. So why?? Even watching Ms jeans, the entire staff say the food is out of this world. Can someone tell me why go back and not forward. Im using windows 7. Not 3.1 from 20yrs. My computer will never work. Maybe it will just send emails and play games. I hope all future rest owners seeking help from an expert, FOLLOW IT! Gordon has been expending. New cook books, new shows, new restaurant's around the world etc.. Yet they call Ramsey for help. Why?? Anyway, I hope I can get your opion and comment's on all this. Another programme I love is Bar Rescue. I'm a DJ and my Gf is a head cook. We both go all out in making sure we deliver 1000%..

  4. When it comes to shows like these, you have to realize that they need help for a reason. They got into the positions that they are because they have absolutely no business and opening a business. Lol! A lot of the time they open a bar because they like to drink, they open a restaurant because they like to eat. Those are not valid reasons to open businesses. You cannot expect anyone to be able to save someone who is in some cases millions of dollars in debt because usually ego is at play. You have owners who rarely know nothing more than how to eat, megalomaniac chefs and worthless staff. Most places are mere months from closing when he shows up. You can only hold creditors off for so long.

  5. Granted I have only seen 1/4 of the total episodes on that list (thus far) but this was by far the most shocking & depressing "restaurant". It looked like a shelter for homeless. Such restaurants exist in Pittsburgh? Why was the greeter at the front (always on cell phone) a helper? Was hoping Gordon would question this. Anyhow I assume the answer to "Why do owners return to the old menus" is 2-sided. Usually the regulars return demanding their favorite classic plates. But I fear the reason establishments like Ms.Jean go back to old ways is simply lack of supplies. This was the first episode which didn't include Gordon investigating the freezer/supply room. I think that is very telling. Remember he tried ordering and most of the plates on the menu were out? And what they managed to serve looked like low quality TV dinners. Quick search on Yelp shows she now runs a Buffet with hit & miss results. I see photos (None of Ramsey's makeover objects around) and am still amazed such a place still exists. No standards in Pittsburgh?

  6. This woman was very good at making herself out to be an innocent victim.