George Holz/FOX
September 05, 2008 12:00 AM

Kitchen Nightmares kicked off last night with a two-hour look back at some of last season’s most unfortunate restaurants. Nostalgia and, naturally, star Gordon Ramsay‘s fiery temper were key ingredients in the Fox drama. Before the celebrity chef doles out the advice to an all-new set of troubled eateries this season, he visited six especially troubled spots that he schooled last year. But these weren’t just goodwill missions. Ramsay wanted to see if they followed his advice a year out.

So, did they listen? You better believe they did!

Unlike Hell’s Kitchen where Ramsay rages like a grease fire, Kitchen Nightmares casts the Brit in a mentor-like role. But he’s cranky enough to get his point across — and make you fear the possibility of not heeding his sound advice. That’s because ultimately he’s there to teach and support the failing restaurant staff. Think of him as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition‘s Ty Pennington with a lot less soul(patch). We’ll take a closer look as the season starts afresh next week … with all new adventures around the USA … but first, let’s look at the two most improved restaurants that Ramsay revisited last night.

• Congratulations to Dillons, a New York City Indian restaurant that was, before Ramsay’s intervention, crawling with bugs and vermin. With a new name–now called Purnima–a focused menu and new chef consultant Vikas Khanna, the restaurant seems to be bringing in the crowds and, as its owner attests, filling the restaurant’s coffers with almost a $1 million a year. Ramsay seemed genuinely touched by the success story too … didn’t you think?

•The Mixing Bowl, in Bellmore, N.Y., struggled financially thanks to a generous manager who gave out 50% off coupons to diners and cooked up similarly desperate promotions to lure in off the streets. With a focused menu, a new decorating scheme and a new philosophy … make the diners come to you … the restaurant turned itself around. But did it stay that way? Yep, Ramsay looked overjoyed to see that the colorful discount signs and promotions were a thing of the past.

Check back next week to read about Ramsay’s latest restaurant makeover. –Brian Orloff

Tell us: Which restaurant makeover impressed you the most? And have you eaten at any of the featured restaurants before/after their makeovers?

George Holz/FOX

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