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


‘Kitchen Nightmares’ crew descends on Yanni’s Greek Restaurant in Phinney Ridge

November 27th, 2012 · Comments

The two big trucks are hiding all the activity, but crews from the the FOX reality show “Kitchen Nightmares” are busy getting ready to film at Yanni’s Greek Restaurant later this week.

“Kitchen Nightmares” features chef Gordon Ramsay trying to help a struggling restaurant turn around and be successful.

If anyone has better pictures, please send them our way! Email to tips@phinneywood.com

Mike V sent us these pictures this morning. You can see video and audio equipment piled up out front.

And extra production trucks are parked on the next block.

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  1. KP says:

    Poor planning to allow the producers to take up a block of parking in front of retailers for almost a full week during Christmas season.

  2. Andy Sapuntzakis says:

    I think we saw 2 additional trailers this evening. One around the corner, and another across the street.

  3. Jon says:

    There are trailers in front of the church, as well, but I read something about a wedding on one of them? Is that some sort of poor disguise, or is there some giant wedding taking place as well?

    In the other thread, I saw a lot of people saying things like, “Aw man, I love Yanni’s! What’s the deal!?” And then, there’s the whole deal of signing up to dine in, during Gordon’s appearance at opening night.

    Guys, I’m starting to think you don’t quite understand the idea behind “Kitchen Nightmares”. There are probably going to be some food safety code violations, and things that will completely gross you out, and make you regret having ever eaten there. Prepare for Gordon to find moldy produce, raw chicken that’s past the expiration date, and grime everywhere in the kitchen.

    There’s a 78% chance that he will have to tell the diners that service is over, due to contamination and food safety issues.

    I can’t remember an episode of that show where he didn’t find something incredibly gross in a restaurant.

  4. ben says:

    I counted the two trailers out front, a generator and truck around the corner, and a large truck along with the wedding bathroom trailer in front of the church.

    Along with that I counted at least 12 people running cables or moving boxes. Quite the operation for our sleepy neighborhood. Anyone know where they’ll film the obligatory “let’s talk all this owner/employee/family trouble out over coffee” scene? Should we expect Vita or Herkimer to be shutting down for an afternoon?

  5. Tom Masterson says:

    “a struggling restaurant turn around and be successful.” ?Yannis is struggling?

  6. Robyn says:

    It is so hard for me to read all the comments out there because this is my family you are talking about and speculating about what is going on.It is to be expected though since they have put themselves out there.I will hold my tongue lol and let the show tell the story : )I love Yanni’s and my family …best of luck OPA

  7. ben says:


    Do know that these comments are not representative of the whole community. Consider the prior threads’ overwhelming number of effusive and glowing statements of love and respect for the restaurant.

    I am sure our entire community hopes this show can breathe a bit of new life into the restaurant. A thriving small business in the neighborhood is a boon to us all.

  8. T says:

    We love Yanni’s and have been going there for years, altough they had to agree with this and probably asked for it, don’t know if can watch him yell at the family.

  9. Ginny says:

    Why do people freak out so at minor inconveniences that will likely add to the neighborhood’s vitality? Thanks to Ben for being so articulate in his comments. I wish Yanni’s the best results in their transformation.

  10. KP says:

    For the record, I love Yanni’s – have been eating there regularly for almost 20 years and consider the Avgoustiou family to be friends. My impression of this show is that it incites conflict among the employees, plants filth where none exists, criticizes the food unfairly and generally exaggerates drama to create compelling television. I hate to see Yanni’s fall victim to it, and truly hope that this has a positive outcome for them.

  11. Luigi says:

    Yes, KP, it’s all a massive conspiracy! I’m guessing you’re one of those “it’s never my fault” sort of people.

    Keep in mind Yanni’s asked for the help.

  12. Whopper says:

    Went there once. Mediocre/poor food, lousy service.

    They need a good chewing out from Gordo!

  13. beowuff says:

    It’s my understanding the the UK version of this show is much more about helping the restaurants then the US version.

    I’ve only seen the US version a couple of times and couldn’t stand Ramsay yelling at people. I really hope he tries to help them out and doesn’t just go for the conflict ratings.

  14. Ruby says:

    beowuff, they’re only giving the people what they want. This stuff sells. But it does seem odd to me that in a country where takin’ the piss is a national sport they would have a tamer version than ours. Ramsey’s a bugger I know but I sort of like the cooking show he does with the other two chefs.

  15. JLW says:

    they signed up for auditions to the show, and out of all the other seattle restaurants that did as well, this one was picked for some reason or another. the show does not “plant” things, guess we will know the real story when the show airs, and i can’t wait for that! i am stoked for the relaunch and will eat there once the hype is over.

  16. KP says:

    Sorry, Luigi, but you’re missing my point. It’s not about “fault” or “conspiracy”. I just think that generally the subject restaurants go into this thinking they can hold their own against professional television producers and probably find that the end result portrays them more negatively than they’d expected. I hope I’m wrong, and would like nothing more than for this to prove very beneficial for Yanni’s and all the other featured restaurants.

    And I still think it’s unfortunate that the nearby retailers are losing valuable parking for a week during holiday season.

  17. ben says:

    KP sure has a cynical view of it. Wouldn’t you imagine most go into it imagining they’ll get help, guidance, and a remodel from a world famous chef hoping to turn around their struggling business?

    What little I know of the show (didn’t the NYT write about restaurants on the show after the fact?) every episode shows myriad faults and issues but–by the end–the place has been transformed into a fresh, new restaurant with happy owners/employees/families. If Yanni’s can find even a third of that result I believe it’s a very good thing for the neighborhood. In spite of precious parking loss near prime window-shopping sidewalks.

  18. KP says:

    NYT wrote a “what happens later” piece about a similar show, Restaurant:Impossible, in July. Reviewed Kitchen Nightmares in 2007. Neither article endorses the shows as an effective way to save a restaurant.

  19. Lucy says:

    All I know is it makes it impossible to see around the corner of 76th when I need to turn onto Greenwood after picking my son up at the school in the church. I’m past the bike lane and into half the car lane before I can see around the trailer.

  20. RUKiddingMe says:

    @Lucy “all I know it makes it impossible to see around the corner of 76th” then go down to 78th or 74th street and make a turn. Geez, this show is giving people jobs and giving Yanni’s a fresh start. Stop thinking about yourself.

    For a neighborhood where people constantly claim they are part of a community, people consistently come off as self absorbed.

    I drove (and yes I drive because I have a job that requires it) SIX times today past Yanni’s and the film crew.

    I thought good for Yanni’s and good to see local resources: trailers, porta potties, catering, coffee shops being utilized.

    Stop and think about others and how things may positively impact their lives, like a job! vs your very temporary trouble.

  21. Luigi says:

    Well KP, I guess you gotta complain about something, right? ;-). Forget all the good stuff, focus on the bad. How depressing!

  22. KP says:

    Luigi, I’m guessing you shopped on Thanksgiving at WalMart.

  23. ben says:

    Sorry, KP, for misremembering whether it was the show in question or another “British chef saves the ailing restaurant” bit of entertainment. I think the bottom line for all but yourself and those worried about their parking is the potential benefit for a local business.

    As I clearly recall the gist better than the details, I will suggest that they found there was a temporary bump for some but a long-term bump for others. Let us hope Yanni’s falls into the latter category and realize the trailers will be gone long before the epsiode appears on national television. In the meantime, those of us in the neighborhood may get a sneak-peek of a local, family run establishment’s synergy–at the expense of a 22 minute national spot and a few data’s parking inconvenience–with an internationally renowned chef’s experience, creativity, and salesmanship

  24. KP says:

    I’m not worried about my parking — I happen to walk, and support all our local businesses. I worry about Santoro’s and others who aren’t likely benefiting from the chaos of this week. Others pay a price while one gets a dubious benefit at best.

  25. ben says:

    Cool, KP: that makes at least 2 or more of us walking. And–to be fair–if parking were really an issue barring our businesses on Greenwood Ave from success they’d not have stayed open this long.

    If we assume that each shares an even portion of the 2 hour (heck, let’s throw in the 30 minute loading spaces) parking spots, we’re talking about .34 lost customers per business per hour while the Kitchen Nightmares crew is there. Let’s pretend–for the sake of simplicity–that each business receives the same amount of marginal dollar per customer who walks through the door. How many additional customers must Yanni’s receive to create a net benefit to the community.

    If you guessed “not many” you’re right on. Add to that the potential for first time customers (having seen the show and wanting to visit the resulting restaurant–and given the crowds at Voula’s or Paseo following their national TV spots–this is likely to be not a few people) wandering into surrounding businesses and the total benefit is clearly in the plus column for the neighborhood.

    Dubious it may be but let us ask the businesses concerned–rather than “maybe I occasionally drop in” locals–before passing judgment on those who don’t mind it?

  26. Luigi says:

    KP… walmart? Okay, let’s take a guess about you, completely off-topic… based on that victim mentality of yours, I’m guessing you’re one of those folks who couldn’t make house payments and then blamed the bank for foreclosing.

    You sound like a miserable person to be around. KP says “when life hands you lemons, sit around and cry about it.”

  27. Greenwood says:

    Good God people.

    Was anyone at the taping last night? Any fun details?

  28. Whopper says:

    Taping starts today. I plan on checking it out.

  29. Anthony says:

    Walked by there this morning on my way to Ken’s and Herkimer. The businesses are going to be fine, lol, infact this will work in their favor.

  30. a.out says:

    I know I should probably expect it when I go to places like this, but “Mediterranean” style service sucks. I don’t want to sit around and wait 30 minutes to get a drink, then wait an hour for my food (when the place is empty). Seems like almost all Greek places are like this. I know I’m not in a fast food place, but it can be very excessive.

  31. Lucy says:

    Actually, RU, my concern wasn’t about me so much as the fact that I’m worried about hitting bikers in the bike lane because I have to be in THEIR lane in order to see around the trucks. I also don’t want to have an accident with my child in the back seat. Hopefully those two things are acceptable things to be concerned about because I sure think they are. As for jobs and all, that’s great, but I wasn’t writing a comment about everything, just the poor parking of the trucks. What an odd “place” comment sections are…

  32. jimmy 3 fingers says:

    yanni’s needs help haha not even Gordon Ramsay can help them. they drop a steak on the ground in the kitchen they pick it right up and cook it. or drop pita bread they pick it right up and put it on a plate. that kitchen is soo nasty the health inspector needs to shut it down

  33. Outside the box says:

    Gorgeous George has won us over…and will not lose us to a re-incarnated Yannis. He and staff can “sense” if your evening is intended to be a reasonably paced meal and service, or a “night out”….great food, service, cleanliness. Occasionally Gordon Ramsey goes into a neighborhood place to show the “Nightmare” how good the competition in the neighborhood is…if he does, Yanni’s will realize how improved they need to be. I hope they are BOTH successful, but George is always first in our minds, mouths and wallets.

  34. Al says:

    Actually, Phinneywood is a bit underrated when it comes to inexpensive Mediterranean food. Hummus Cafe offers one of the best falafels in Seattle. Mr. Gyros holds it down with a super consistent menu. Gorgeous George presents affordable, yet high-quality sit down dinners. I have yet to try Kouzina or Olive and Grape, but I have heard good things about them.

  35. Serena says:

    Robyn, My employees at DISH and I love Yanni’s as well! It is unfortunate that the trucks are taking up so much space. But Kitchen Nightmares always does an awesome job helping out restaurants, so your family is in good hands. Since my DISH Hopper auto-records the Big 4 networks during prime time with the Prime Time Anytime Feature I have been watching a lot of shows I have never seen due to my schedule and Kitchen Nightmares is my absolute favorite, so I can’t wait until they release this episode. .

  36. Larry J says:

    When I heard Ramsay was in the neighborhood to help a struggling restaurant, I assumed it had to be the Chinese place just north of Ken’s Market! Did anyone else?

    I have to admit it has been many years since I was in Yanni’s. I hope the family says no to Ramsay’s design crew and their shoddy cheap-ass redecorating. I feel so bad when they surprise people with a slapped-together overnight makeover!

    Now, has anyone spotted Ramsay walking around the neighborhood yet?

  37. Kim says:

    Please. Downtown Greenwood proper hasn’t been a booming shopping spot since I was five years old (1978). My sister scouted this place for Kitchen Nightmares and chose it because she LOVED the family. She thought they were funny and had a lot of character. They were really slow the night she showed up and the whole family was there and said What the heck! We’ll do it. We could use some more business.
    I have a feeling it’ll be more about updated decor and service rather than food, but that’s my personal opinion.

  38. Perry says:

    From what I’ve seen, the businesses near yannis are getting way more foot traffic and attention than normal because of the filming. Agreed- have always wondered about that chinese place. Hope yannis keeps their quirky charm!