Kitchen Nightmare, episode three: Who do you really want in your restaurant?

Covid-19 restrictions could be the chance you never knew you needed to overhaul all those niggling issues in the ‘restaurant’ of your life. In part three of ‘Kitchen Nightmare, Lockdown Edition’, occupational therapist – and reality TV fan – Katherine Burnard asks: which customers will you invite back when you re-open for business?

Kitchen Nightmare (Lockdown Edition), Episode 3.  In our final episode, Gordon Ramsay gets stuck into the restaurant’s HR troubles. He sees the owner getting pulled in every which direction by customers, staff, suppliers, and headed for burnout. But will the owner be able to acknowledge this for themselves and get back on track?

As we reach the end of this three-part series of Kitchen Nightmare (Lockdown Edition) let’s do a quick recap. Lockdown has forced the temporary closure of your restaurant (read: your life). Gordon Ramsay has been guiding restaurant owners, like yourself, to consider where things were going awry with the struggling restaurant prior to Covid-19 and helping owners to get prepped for the grand reopening. So far, we’ve looked at the atmosphere and the menu. This week, it’s the people coming under fire.

Before lockdown you’d packed your restaurant with customers wall to wall... It was crowded, it was chaotic, and you were headed for burnout

Before lockdown you’d packed your restaurant with customers wall to wall. You’d have to squeeze yourself between tables to get the service out. You were getting your orders confused – was it table 16 that was nut-free or was that number 12? Your regulars and your VIPs were starting to feel a bit neglected. You haven’t had a team social event since holiday season 2015 and tensions are starting to rise among the staff. You’d lost track of your suppliers and only just realised you actually hadn’t been getting your regular monthly delivery of dry goods since the start of the year. It was crowded, it was chaotic, and you were headed for burnout.

With the restaurant empty of almost everyone you could finally catch your breath.



After the initial shock of being physically cut off from most people in your life, maybe you started to feel a niggle of relief in not having such a packed social calendar, fewer obligatory catch-ups, more quality time with those you live with. Maybe you realised how much you desperately miss certain people and how vital their presence is to your fulfillment. Perhaps you started to notice that you had more energy to do things for yourself as your supply wasn’t zapped by juggling the needs of so many people. Relationships are vital. But if we’re not mindful about our own capacity, relationships can also deplete us of our precious energy resources.

Relationships are vital. But if we’re not mindful about our own capacity, relationships can also deplete us of our precious energy resources

Gordon Ramsay’s final piece of advice on Kitchen Nightmare (Lockdown Edition): Could you do with reducing the dining capacity post-lockdown to allow for more quality time and less frantic running around? Who do you want to be there when you’re back open for business? Sub out customers, suppliers and staff for friends, family, colleagues, mentors, and professional supports.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Pre-lockdown, who were the people you were spending your time with?
  • Were there any dynamics that were becoming draining or demanding of your energy? Were there important relationships you weren’t finding the time to nurture?
  • Since being in lockdown, have you noticed any changes in your capacity or desire for connecting and socialising with others?
  • Beyond lockdown, how might the quality of your relationships or the way you spend your time with others change – in order to be energy-giving, rather than energy-zapping?

To help get you thinking, I’ve borrowed an approach common in social work called eco-mapping. It’s a tool to lay out all your relationships and to consider the quality of those relationships. Physically mapping out everyone can be time-consuming but even using the key as a mental prompt when reflecting on your personal network can be a really useful starting point to build awareness. 


Lockdown is easing and the forced closure of your restaurant is coming to an end. You’ve stripped everything back, taken stock of what’s important, and you’re nearly ready to open the doors once more.

Good luck with your big reopening – Gordon Ramsay predicts a Michelin star is on the horizon.

  • Katharine Burnard is the founder of Square Circle. 

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Header image credit: gordonramsaysubmissions (Flickr, 2009)