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Tear Jerker / Kitchen Nightmares

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  • In Burger Kitchen, Daniel's epic breakdown when the stress of his dysfunctional family relationship finally overwhelms him.
  • In Zeke's, watching the footage of Zeke entertaining his customers while the narrator explains that Zeke died during Hurricane Katrina. And the restaurant has been sold over to new ownership, Porters & Luke. Perhaps most disconcerting is the utter disrespect shown towards Zeke's legacy by the Only in It for the Money attitude showcased by the couple who bought the restaurant out of his estate.
  • The feeling you get when you check Google or Yelp and see that a restaurant folded despite Ramsay's intervention. Especially when it's an episode in which everyone listens to Ramsay, embrace his changes, and it's pretty clear that Ramsay helped the business out.
    • It's more sad that it's not really Ramsey's fault and he's being made into the target for the blame for the restaurants falling out, despite only trying to help. It's not owners that blame him mind you, it's other people. (some do, however)
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    • To wit, while some restaurants closed due to poor management (some reverting the changes Ramsay did), others closed due to reasons outside their control. A good portion of the earlier episodes (Especially in the British series) became victims of the Great Recession and Credit Crunch of 2007-2008. Others became so popular, the owner of the property raised rent prices and they couldn't afford to keep up with it, and some, despite having continued success, had debt problems too severe that they couldn't catch up.
  • Pretty much the entire 'Mama Maria's/Sal's Pizzeria' episode. Everything from John having to call an ambulance for a sickened customer to his emotional breakdown after dinner service to wanting to throw away the Specials sign he's kept up since his parents died. Even Ramsay looks and sounds like he's about to cry during that moment.
    John: I don't want to take it down, I don't post the Specials, it's just something of memory to me.
    Gordon: But that's the really important issue, and you mustn't take this personally. You're still treating this business as if Mum and Dad are here. We have to let go!
    Gordon: (visibly shocked) No! I'm not asking you to throw that out! Take it home! I don't want you to get upset, but you've got to understand. You've got to let go of the past!
    • Keep in mind, in comparison to Sebastian (who was completely insane with his 'concept'), Joe (who was just too egotistical), or even Amy and Samy, John wants to change the issues with his restaurant, but he's stuck in the past of losing his parents he can't move on. Just the fact that the Specials sign was still in the store since his parents died makes it more depressing, especially when Gordon realizes why John is so adamant to change the restaurant.
  • The death of Joseph Cerniglia, the former owner of Campania, is this on a meta-level, having leaped into the Hudson River to his death from the George Washington Bridge in 2010.
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    • What makes his death especially haunting is how Gordon described Campania as being in such a dreadful state it was ready to "float up the Hudson river" when he first visited the restaurant three years prior. The episode has since been removed from circulation (at least on U.S. television).
  • You can't help but feel sorry for Katy when you watch the now infamous 'Amy's Baking Company' episode, and see how she was fired by Amy for doing her job. On the bright side, she's said to be doing pretty well now as indicated by her AMA in Reddit.
  • The Old Neighborhood was perhaps one of the worst restaurants Gordon visited, being beyond filthy, and run by a husband & wife team that seemed unable to grasp why their business was failing so badly. When he inspects the kitchen and finds years of dirt coupled with some of the worst food storage he'd ever seen, Gordon's typical fury kicks in and he demands the kitchen be shut down. The couple actually break down into tears, because they've finally realized WHY their business is in miserable shape, and that they are in real danger of not only losing the restaurant, but everything else they have, because they neglected their business through years of absent-minded practices. Just watching them in tears is painful.
    • However, as painful a moment as this was, it was the wake-up call they needed. They and their staff cleaned the kitchen thoroughly well enough to satisfy Gordon, and between the renovation and the couple finally realizing they had to throw away every last bit of hoarded junk they'd packed the building with, the reopening was a massive success and it's one of the restaurants from the show that is still in business. If anything, it proves that Gordon's harsh attitude may be what some of these owners need to actually start running their businesses properly.
    • Sadly, even with Gordon's help and intervention, the Old Neighborhood have sold away their business and closed up shop on May 1st, 2016 and is to be replaced with a steakhouse by a man from Greeley, as seen here. It seems others have given their sympathies about Old Neighborhood shutting its doors, too.
  • The situation at Levanti's Italian Restaurant was so bad that Tina, the sister who sold her flower shop to come work there and help her brother, sent a video message to Ramsay tearfully leading for his help. The message is just heart-wrenching to watch. Later, after the disastrous first day, Tina hides in the bathroom to cry.
  • The situation at Mike and Nellie's, the father and son business who once enjoyed huge success until the father Nellie passed away. His passing clearly affected Mike and the family profoundly, and Mike was very much a broken man by the time Gordon arrived as he had lost any sense of standards in the kitchen.
  • The backstory of PJ's Steakhouse: The owner's brother, the former owner of the building the restaurant is in, died and it made him an empty shell. They bought the place and it went into debt. While it closed in 2009, it is rather sad to hear that these two lost everything over what was meant to be a monument to a beloved brother.
  • A positive example: After finishing the revamp for Luigi's, Gordon leaves the staff with a video message from Luigi and Tony's father Dominic giving words of encouragement to his two sons. Luigi is left in tears by the end of the video.
  • Billy, the owner of The Handlebar, passed away from cancer in November of 2015.
  • At the UK's Dovecote Bistro, owner Mick's stubborn/selfish behavior (and total lack of cooking skills) was ruining the place, and he often blamed his own wife and adopted daughter rather than admit his own faults. Michelle at her breaking point was so upset, she told her mother she was afraid of losing her parents, because she'd already been through one family not wanting her.
  • At the Hot Potato Cafe, Danielle tears up when Gordon reveals that he has brought in a chef specifically to mentor her and provide her with the help and support she's needed.
  • A meta-example: Learning that Genevieve, the pretty young waitress who told Gordon the truth about the quality of the food in Charlie's Italian Bistro and got yelled at by her boss, died from an epileptic seizure in 2015 is absolutely heartrending.
  • Another example from Charlie's is when the owner Tatiana is convinced to fire Casimiro. She thought they'd been friends for ten years, although it's obvious to everyone else that she's just a paycheck provider to him. She is clearly distraught over having to tell a friend to leave but knows she has no choice due to his incompetence and unwillingness to address his mistakes. After the two part ways, Casimiro laughs as he leaves and refuses to accept a hug from her, and Tatiana retreats to the restroom to cry.
  • The closing of Giuseppi's is especially heartbreaking, as the family was already riddled with debt and risking foreclosure when their restaurant relaunched, only for it to fall victim to the hardships of the recession. When Gordon eventually returns to speak to the owners, he's absolutely devastated to find that their restaurant is on its last legs.
  • The family feud at the heart of the Greek at the Harbor's struggle hits at the heart on all kinds of levels. The restaurant was a prosperous family-owned business that had fallen into hard times due to the deteriorating working relationship between the father and son who were fighting to keep the business alive. The father refused to hand over any work to his son who struggled to understand why he wasn't trusted to do anything to support the kitchen. Gordon eventually discovered from his mother that his father, Makis, was bitter over the fact that his son had announced at his college graduation party held at the restaurant that he intended to make something of himself, followed up by the promise that he would not work at the restaurant. Gordon forces this out into the open and the family confronts each other on their son Aris' hurtful remarks. Clearly remorseful, Aris apologizes for the things he said and reaffirms his commitment to helping his overworking father to get their business back on track.
    • Becomes a Heartwarming Moment when not only do the two mend their relationship, but that the restaurant remains open for business today.
  • The closing of Fiesta Sunrise is this when you realize the family there had already closed another restaurant beforehand, presumably due to the same careless business practices that had left the second in such a shambles by the time Gordon arrived. Worse still, the restaurant despite Gordon's efforts was also the site of a stabbing incident after the fact, which likely did not help its reputation before it closed its doors before the episode for the restaurant had even aired. As of 2017, the restaurant has been occupied by a hardware rental store.
    • The fact that the owner's stepdaughter had poured her entire credit into the restaurant, an investment that endangered her marriage to her (Understandably) frustrated husband, makes its inevitable failure that much harder to bear.
  • The closing of Cafe 36, as the husband and wife owners of that restaurant had invested so much into the business only to see it tanked by a combination of the economy and lacking quality. Gordon's determination to help them back on their feet after dealing with their head chef's crippling obstruction is what makes its failure that much more bitter.
  • In Mill Street Bistro, one of the servers confides that Joe once berated her in front of the customers and that a table left in disgust. They left her a note telling her to keep her chin up and that she did great work but Joe told her not to let it go to her head because there's always mistakes being made.
  • The closing of Cafe Tavolini most definitely counts, with its husband and wife owners never picking up the slack even after Gordon had sent them a damning warning over what would follow if they allowed the restaurant to go under. Sure enough, their incompetence soon after led to the restaurant's closure, and the couple eventually divorced, having lost everything for having failed to act on Gordon's warnings. As of 2017, the former property has been reoccupied by a lobster restaurant.
  • Zayna's Flaming Grill features an aunt-and-niece co-ownership. Brenda, the niece, is a certifiable Woobie who turned to her aunt since she understands that she can't run a restaurant herself and it's been her aunt's dream to do this. However, Fay is highly unsympathetic, but gradually becomes a Jerkass Woobie when you realise that Fay's trying desperately to hold onto her dream since she is afraid that losing Zayna's Flaming Grill means losing everything.
  • The owner of Jack's Waterfront having to fire his own father. Granted, the old man was a leech who spent most of his shifts getting drunk and creeping on women young enough to be his grandchildren, but that still can't have been easy. This also happens at the very end of the episode, and the viewer is never told if their relationship survived.

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