Nashville restaurateur JOHN CHAPMAN tells THE ENQUIRER that appearing on GORDON RAMSAYs show was MORE than mere a KITCHEN NIGHTMARE — it was HELL – and nearly wrecked his business!
Chappy’s, a New Orleans-style Cajun restaurant, has been a fixture on Music City’s Church Street for six years. But when Ramsay overhauled the menu and the decor, customers defected in droves and sent Chappy’s swirling down the culinary drain.
“It was truly a kitchen nightmare for me,” the eatery’s owner, John “Chappy” Chapman, told The ENQUIRER. “Gordon Ramsay destroyed my business!”
The bombastic Brit invaded Chappy’s for a week of filming the FOX program last December, and “it was a confrontation from the get-go,” Chapman told The ENQUIRER. “Ramsay hated everything. His designers completely redid the decor, and after he tried five or six of my dishes, Ramsay said they were all horrible.”
Even though patrons loved the authentic Creole dishes like seafood gumbo and jambalaya on Chappy’s extensive menu, Ramsay chopped the bill of fare to just 20 bland items, such as cheeseburgers, hush puppies and fried chicken. The hard-charging TV chef also changed Chappy’s colorful interior design to muted beiges and grays, and installed uncomfortable church pew benches.
As for the new menu, “my customers hated it,” Chapman told The ENQUIRER. “People would get up and walk out as soon as they saw it. They loved the gumbos and fish, shrimp and oysters. They weren’t coming in for hamburgers – that’s for sure.”
One disgruntled regular said: “The new furnishings and country fare has turned a fun restaurant into a funeral parlor. The life is gone!”
From serving 200 patrons a night, Chappy’s business sagged to a single table at best, Chapman said. After a month of struggling to make it with Ramsay’s approach, Chapman switched back to his old menu, and business started picking up immediately.
“They kept telling me to wait for the show to air, but if I did that, I’d be gone,” said Chapman, who opened Chappy’s in 2006 after moving from Long Beach, Miss., following Hurricane Katrina. “I plan to redo the decor back to the original as soon as I can get the money together.”
Chapman was paid a total of $7,500 to be on the show and cover his expenses for the days Chappy’s was closed. But now Chapman says that he wishes he’d never agreed to be on the show.
“Ramsay’s scouts come in with a lot of promises, saying you’ll be on national television and business is going to boom,” he groused.
“But that never happened. Instead, Gordon Ramsay killed my business.”
And when the Chappy’s segment airs on “Kitchen Nightmares” in April, Chapman said: “We’ll have a viewing party and throw rotten apples at it.”