A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Reality chef Gordon Ramsay filming “Kitchen Nightmares” at Yanni’s in Phinney Ridge next week

November 19th, 2012 · Comments

Chef and reality TV star Gordon Ramsay will be in our neighborhood filming an episode of Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares” from Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 at Yanni’s Greek Restaurant.

This is the fourth season of the show, where Chef Ramsay tries to help a fledgling restaurant turn around and be more successful.

Producer Joe Di Lauro contacted us to say they’re looking for people to dine at Yanni’s during filming. To make reservations to eat during filming, diners need to email the producers at seattlerest@gmail.com. Reservations can’t be made through Yanni’s.

Dinner patrons need to be at least 18 years old, and are responsible for paying for their own meals and drinks.

From the show’s website:

Each week, Chef Ramsay will visit a new establishment with myriad problems. He will delve deep into the inner workings of each eatery and explore everything from unsanitary refrigerators to lazy and inexperienced staff to diagnose the real problems. Whether he changes the restaurant’s operations, updates the menu or gives the establishment a complete makeover, Chef Ramsay will do whatever it takes to try and turn these restaurants into popular, successful and, most importantly, money-making businesses. It’s up to the restaurant owners to take his advice and use it, or face closure.

For many, Ramsay is their last chance to help turn around their businesses or else they’ll be forced to close their doors forever.

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  1. Greenwood says:

    This explains why our orders take forever and are always wrong.

  2. X says:

    Please do save Yanni’s!
    A chef? Dining room skills is where they could use some expert advice, not the cooking.

  3. Don says:

    Did they chnage ownership? haven’t they been there quite a while?

  4. Jan says:

    We love Yanni’s! We love the whole Yanni’s family. I hate to think what this experience will bring.

    Good luck Peter!

  5. Seattle Mike says:

    Some of the worst food we’ve had in Seattle was here. Lousy ambience as well. Couldn’t wait to get out of there. Good for them for realizing that they have a problem. That is step one, after all.

  6. Sophie says:

    Please DON’T change the calamari or the house salad dressing! They’ve been my favorite since I was old enough to eat solid food!

  7. Terry says:

    I have been going to this restaurant since they opened over 25 years ago. Yes, the kitchen probably does need a good cleaning and good for them to want to be shown on TV. This will really help pick up their business which is a great business in Phinney Ridge. The family that works together stays together and they work hard. Love them!

  8. Robyn says:

    Watch out Mr. Ramsay…this place has many loyal diners so don’t mess with the house dressing or the lemon potatoes.This is one hard working family business and I have always enjoyed myself there…they are a charming and fun family.Good luck to all involved , I think it will make some great TV viewing.If it brings in more customers for Yanni’s it is a win win for all! OPA : )

  9. anotherneighbor says:

    Hard for me to try a new place when I am a loyal customer of Georgia’s (on 85th and 4th or so)..

  10. Roger says:

    I have to say that I was at first surprised that Yanni’s would be featured on this show. I love Yannis, love the family and equally important love the food. Peter and Karen deserve great success. They, along with their daughters have worked so hard for all these years and I have never had a bad experience, love the perfectly cooked calamari and caesar salad. And the lamb and chicken and lemon potatoes…..perfect! As for the ambiance, it is a matter of each person’s taste, but I love it there and the Greek/mediterraneans music. I hope they don’t change it too much! But if it helps gain more business, it’s a win/win situation. They certainly don’t deserve the negative comments above!

  11. Robyn says:

    Bravo Roger plus I think it is called Kitchen Nightmares because of Mr. Ramsay , he scares me…

  12. Rob says:

    my complaint about Yanni’s is that you better be able to wait a long time to get waited on, to get your order, to get your drinks, etc. BUT the food is always good. But I do get tired of trying to get a wait staff person’s attention just to order, especially if they have a “friends” dining the night you are there. I have seen the staff sit down and talk with people while my water glass goes unfilled, or my order sits on the counter waiting to be served.

  13. K says:

    Ditto on the good food, slow service. I left Seattle last summer but dined at Yannis a number of times. I always enjoyed the food and experience, and the service, while friendly, was a bit slow. I’m guessing that the kitchen isn’t set up to handle the number of diners they get on a busy night, and that this is what Ramsey will concentrate on, not the menu or quality of the food.

    This is probably the fifth or sixth restaurant in the Greenwood area covered by a national food show, along with Beth’s, Red Mill, Georgia’s, Bick Broadview and one or two others. Has Gorgeous George made it yet?

  14. Whopper says:

    Looks like a dump from the outside. Fix that one and “Chinese Dinner” and maybe we can get some decent ethnic food, not slop served up to 5th generation Scando-Seattle-mugs whose idea of exotic travel is a road trip to the Puyallup Fair.

  15. Terry says:

    Whopper…you don’t make any sense. What are you trying to say?

  16. Outside the box says:

    Our patience has been tried one time too many there….we order it to go when we crave, which isn’t that often. A makeover and new attitude will probably do wonders (but I don’t know if I want to see the “nightmare” pre-fix…)

  17. Jon says:

    Yannis is great. Hats off to them for seeking some help & advice. Ramsay is the nightmare – what a bully!

  18. Hammajamma says:

    Geez, isn’t that show sort of like the Food channel equivolent of Jerry Springer? Mr. Ramsey insuls and goads everyone up until they are all crying and fighting with each other. Eventually they have an epiphany about burger thickness, cleanliness, proper cooling temps or whatever and all is well again.

  19. tw78 says:

    I like Yanni’s – I’m sure improvements could be made, but it is still a place I take out of town guests – and they always love it. I worry a little about how this will all pan out… that show is all about the reality tv drama. I hope everyone survives.

  20. X says:

    I’ve had good luck with the food there but have struggled with the service [perhaps the service aims to be authentically Greek and I’m not Greek enough?].
    This move seems risky… perhaps this is “last chance” move.
    It would be handy to know how many days/months/years a person has to live. The same can be said of businesses. Many beloved businesses expire while those who love them take for granted that they will always be around.
    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  21. elle says:

    Have any of you even seen the show? If you had, you’d know that G.R. has a big heart and wants these restaurants to succeed. That’s why he helps them.

  22. beowuff says:

    I’ve always thought Yanni’s was the mediterranean style. You show up, have a bunch of wine while you wait for your oh so good food. Is there a wait? Yep. But they cook food from scratch, so it takes some time. Enjoy the excellent wine! Take the evening and hang out with family. That’s the style! I hate the fact that Ramsey will be going there. I’m going to send an email to the address shown above and make sure they know they shouldn’t change a thing!

  23. Derbyman says:

    Ya wanna turn Yanni’s around!? How about serving the food within 20 minutes of the order! The service is ssssssssssslllllllllloooooooooowww.

  24. tx2stepper says:

    I sent an email to the email address in the article and it came back undeliverable. I’d love to be one of the diners on the show!

  25. phinneyfun says:

    Oh dear! I LOVE Yanni’s. Used to live in Astoria, NY, the Greek capital of the US 🙂 and Yanni’s was every bit as good as the food I got there.

    And I do NOT mind the longish wait for food–I like being able to sit and talk with my friends and savor a nice slow meal. So many restaurants absolutely rush you out the door.

    The staff are really nice, too. Totally unbidden, they provided my husband with a birthday treat when they overheard me toast his birthday.

    If the show’s assistance wins them more business, great, but I do hope they really are not struggling to turn their business around.

  26. Sumonel says:

    I have to say I think it will be a much needed improvement. We have had several nice meals there in the 23 years we have lived here. But we have walked out just as many times because of the poor service. Good for them taking a big step towards change.

  27. Sumonel says:

    I think it is a much needed improvement. We have had several nice meals there in the 23 years we have lived here. But we have walked out just as many times because of the poor service. Good for them taking a big step towards change. The competition is much greater now on Greenwood and they need to make changes or they won’t be able to continue.

  28. Ann says:

    If Yanni’s is so great it wouldn’t be in trouble. All these posters fawning over Yanni’s, if they were so supportive, i.e. Regular paying patrons, the place would be in great shape. I’m sure the owners are saying the same thing, who and where are all these people that are supposedly so devoted to our restaurant?

  29. Roger says:

    Ann, Yanni’s does have a lot of regular paying patrons. Unfortunately, as with a lot of businesses in our area, not enough people patronize their local businesses. Look around at all the change that has happened in the past few years. I don’t think Peter or Karen would minimize any of their regular customers as you have. As for those posting here, it shows that Yanni’s is respected and that people do support Yanni’s. And even within the posts by those who you say “fawn” over Yanni’s there are comments that show the need for some improvement. Hopefully you patronize “regularly” the small businesses in our district.

  30. Robyn says:

    Unfortunately lots of good business are failing because of the economy. Yanni’s if you have actually been there cares about their customers that why sometimes it is slow service because everything is fresh cooked in a hard working kitchen trying to put out the best Greek food.They are a family whom owns this business for over 20 years and have had their ups and downs but always have pulled through because of us loyal customers.They are looking at all means to get back on track . I hope it brings in many new customers because it is one of the best places in Greenwood and they have been part of the community for many years.It is a place where you can actually get to know the people who own it and enjoy their friendship…very charming family. It would be a shame and a loss to many who enjoy this place if it was gone.

  31. Jessica says:

    I would patronize Yanni’s if they had better service. We stopped going there years ago because of the bad service. Yes sometimes it is nice to savor a meal, but sometimes I am eating in a restaurant because I am HUNGRY and want to EAT.

  32. PurrlGurrl says:

    Yanni’s needs no help with its food. I love their dishes and would be very disappointed to see any changes there.

    The service, however, is routinely extremely slow and frustrating. If you’re going to have dinner at Yanni’s even on a week night you need to devote the whole evening to it because that’s how long it will take. Your eyes will glaze over as you rap your fingers on the table top waiting for food, any food, to finally show up.

    If Ramsay could speed up the kitchen without negatively impacting the menu (maybe too tall of an order for him) that would be great.

    If Yanni’s is hurting, well so are a lot of other restaurants. The bitter truth is that many of no longer have the discretionary income we once did to regularly eat in restaurants. What was once routine is now saved for only special occasions. We used to eat out almost every day but Sunday. Now, it’s the other way around. By necessity.

  33. margaret says:

    I think Yanni’s can only benefit from having GR give it some tips on not only how to keep their current customers coming back, but to also attract new ones. Every business occasionally needs a nudge/shove to evolve for the times. From reading these posts it seems that Yanni’s needs some tips on how to convey the dining experience they apparently want their customers to enjoy, but add a few well marked items on their menu that can be prepared more quickly.

    I do hope, though, that GR gives a nod to our awesome, eccletic neighborhood. I think we are one of the most unique and community driven ‘hoods in the City!

  34. I'm hungry says:

    I stopped going to Yanni’s because I found their food too heavy and greasy. Several dishes had a slightly dull stewed flavor. I would love to see the food tweaked with lighter/brighter flavors and less oil.

  35. Chuck says:

    Hungry? Do what we do. Ask the person seating you to please start a calamari appetizer before you even sit down. It will come pretty quickly with your drinks.

    We were at Yanni’s early in the evening last Friday for our anniversary. It was not very busy, and both the service and food were great. Of course, we try to avoid any restaurant when it’s crazy busy. We are strong believers in the Yogi Berra adage: “Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded.”

    As for ambiance, they’ve got a scale model of the freakin’ Acropolis for Zeus’ sake! How can you not love that?

  36. MikePhoto says:

    I’ve always lived the food at Yanni’s, but we stopped going there several years ago due to the hit-or-miss (mostly ‘miss’) service. Several times over the past few years we’ve been tempted to try it again, but passed when we remembered how frustrated we were on our last couple of visits. Too bad – what they serve is as good as anything I had when I was in Greece, but the complete lack of service was enough to keep us away.

  37. Wendy says:

    Agreed Margaret – I trust Gordon Ramsey to take good care of our beloved local Yanni’s family. If you’ve really watched the shows – he’s not a bully – he’s direct and honest and I believe he really cares about these people’s success. All you need to see is how they feel about him at the end. It’s rough being forced to face your flaws, but nothing changes without it. I think our Yanni’s may be on it’s way to having a great 2013 after it suffers this “celebrity rebirth.”

  38. Luminaria says:

    I’ve seen this show many times. Usually, the owners are so deeply in debt they only have a month or so before they have to close their doors. There are usually personal problems involved with the owners due to the horrific debt looming over them–some couples have been on the verge of divorce, for instance. Ramsay is a last resort to try and save the business at the 11th hour. They do recaps after several months and it’s amazing how many places that took his advice are still going and doing well.

  39. Joe says:

    I think GR will be a positive experience overall. The service here is among the worst in North Seattle (not quite El Chupacabra bad) and the food has been great on one experience for me, average a few times and poor a couple times – why would I go back to that?

    After seeing some of the walk-ins they’ve had on KN, I most definitely won’t be dining here again until after the show wraps… maybe.

  40. Lundy says:

    They should REALLY go to RockSalt down on Lake Union. The service is good, but the whole place looks run down and their food is no where near “fine dining” like they claim. Plus, it turns into a raunchy dance club at night.

  41. Trix says:

    Look, this can only be a good thing for Yanni’s. I’ve watched this show, and Ramsey only gets yelly when the restaurant owners are stubborn mules. But his one goal with this show is to help failing restaurants find the problems and fix them.

  42. pdf says:

    Sad to think it’s come to this for what has been a great restaurant… must be a recent downturn? After watching this show numerous times, I can only hope it isn’t about looming bankruptcy, just some technical, serving, kitchen tweeks.

  43. Becky says:

    When I had my 40th birthday party (some years ago…) I ordered Yanni’s carry out for a large group of people. That’s how important Yanni’s is to me! The roast chicken? C’mon! There is nothing better. I hope that the t.v. show doesn’t change the restaurant into something that Yanni’s is not meant to be. Keep it real Kitchen Nightmare dude and be nice.

  44. Whopper says:

    Must be a “great” restaurant of Ramsey is needed.

  45. phinneynotballard says:

    Let me guess:

    Update the decor
    Reduce the menu down to just a couple of pages
    Yell a lot

  46. K says:

    While as I noted above and many others here have also remarked Yanni’s could definitely benefit from faster and more attentive service, the food is quite good and the menu varied and interesting enough to be left mostly alone. I can think of a number of restaurants in the area that might benefit more from a visit by Ramsey, such as the Thai and Indian restaurants just north of 85th, or the dive bar/pub that serves all sorts of game meat just north of 67th but doesn’t exactly have what I’d call ambience.

    I also hope that Ramsey will start his show by putting Yanni’s and whatever problems it’s having within the context of being in an “up and coming” neighborhood that hosts Seattle’s greatest concentration of Mediterranean and middle eastern restaurants, some of them quite good, such as Georgous George (my favorite), Georgia’s, and of course everyone’s favorite hole in the wall Mr. Gyros.

  47. X says:

    My preference isn’t high pressure, but sometimes they don’t even come to ask a drink order and then a simple beer takes a “they must have forgotten us” length of time.

    It would be interesting to hear whether they have known that they have lost A LOT of business due to the service issues.
    If yes, then hearing it again may not help.
    If no, then perhaps blogging it year after year was not the most effective communication method.

  48. AM says:

    Going to Yanni’s is an experience. The fantastic food is well worth the wait. Everything is made from scratch and the family who owns this amazing place is nice as can be. They are thoughtful and do their best. The family could use some support wait staff that know what they’re doing. It hard to find good help!! I hope this experience brings this lovely family close together and shines a light on their amazing menu and the full Yanni’s experience. Love em!

  49. Lyric says:

    We have eaten at Yanni’s a few times but stop going because the service sucks and the servers can be rude. The food is good but takes forever to get. The decor is very outdated. Also get rid of the bellydancer, no one want to see an overweight woman dance.

  50. X says:

    For those who do want to see a dance… (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvECy1DJLG8).

  51. X says:

    I watched an episode (http://www.fox.com/kitchennightmares/full-episodes/13714247/zocalo).
    The upcoming weekend will be the “before” or the “after” phase of the process?
    I’m guessing “after”… how exciting!

  52. Jason says:

    If they need Gordon Ramsey’s maybe its time to shut the doors. We were told by friends if we were ever in Seattle to eat at Yanni’s. We had a party of 6 reservations were at 7:00 our table was not ready there was no room to wait inside so we had to stand outside. Finally got seated and 20 mins later took our drink order. Took forever to get our drinks and 2 people never even got theirs. But they sure remembered to put it on the bill. Food took forever to get, wait staff was slow and rude. You could tell it was family owned because they were more involved chatting at tables then making sure others were taken care off. The bathrooms reminded me of being in a gas station. First and last time will will go there when in Seattle. I get better service at Denny’s.

  53. Roberto says:

    Maybe if we all knew the family personally we would get better and friendlier service.

  54. Ducktopian says:

    Has anyone landed a reservation yet or heard back after submitting the survey?

  55. kz & ldz says:

    Yanni’s is one of our favorite places in the neighborhood and we have consistently had great food and service. We know better than to be in a hurry when we go there and enjoy having a dining “experience”. We always get attentive service (granted, Karen, who is one of the owners, almost always waits on us). They have an interesting selection of Greek wines featuring indigenuos Greek varietals & the chef has even made hummus to order for us after 9PM. We have our favorite items on the menu and steer away from heavier, richer fare. The prices are more than fair and we always have leftovers for the next day’s lunch. As former restaurant owners, I appreciate their efforts. To run a neighborhood restaurant for this many years is a major (and often thankless) commitment. My guess is that the economy and the influx of many new restaurants in the neighborhood has led to slower business. We love Yanni’s and wish them success!

  56. verysheri says:

    I got an email back with the survey that told me to follow them on twitter to learn more:

  57. ponzie says:

    I think they are desperate and 1 step away from closing down. But a free makeover with a new kitchen will get them more money when it goes up for sell.

  58. Sabastian says:

    This guy that works at DISH with me said that he ate at Yanni’s before and loved it too Jan, so it will be very interesting seeing exactly what they find wrong with the restaurant. I am going to be out of town when it airs, but my DISH Hopper auto-records all of big 4 network’s prime time with the Prime Time Anytime feature, so I know it will be waiting when I get home and I can’t wait.

  59. Whopper says:

    Wow, nice plug Sabastian…

  60. X says:


    ~3 December 2012.
    “…Yanni’s Greek Restaurant is a family run eatery in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood, known for its extensive menu and traditional Mediterranean food.
    …Another problem was the menu, which Ramsay said contained more than 70 items and a dozen daily specials.
    …it hasn’t been easy for this family, who’s operated the restaurant since it opened as the Lakeside Café back in 1984. At times they’ve found Ramsay’s ways and the shows format to be an emotional trial.
    “He’s a very harsh critic, but he’s right,” said Tariya Rosca, who runs the restaurant’s dining room with her mother. “It’s been hard, it’s been a challenge, it’s been thrilling, it’s been exciting, it’s been devastating at times.”
    …The episode of Kitchen Nightmares featuring Yanni’s is scheduled to air sometime in February 2013.”

  61. PAULETTE says: