Industry Trends

Q&A with Gordon Ramsay of ’24 Hours to Hell & Back’

By Dana Krook

Headshot of Gordon Ramsay

Whatever you do, don’t talk back to this chef.

Although, Chef Ramsay might be too busy launching the third season of Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back to actually hear you.

The latest reality TV show from the famous British chef and restaurateur, 24 Hours, takes Ramsay and his “Hell On Wheels” makeover truck to struggling restaurants across the U.S. After secretly filming the cringe-worthy ongoings of each episode’s restaurant in question, Ramsay and his team figure out what the venue’s main issues are – menu, staff, morale – and set the timer. They have only twenty-four hours to completely renovate and reimagine the restaurant, top to bottom, before the grand re-opening.

The full service restaurants featured on the show include everything from Italian fare to Caribbean fusion to bakeries and bistros. While the venues and locations are always different, they all face common struggles: old menus and old habits. While confronting this resistance to change, Ramsay helps restaurateurs return to their original passion for the business and equips them with the tools they need to find renewed success.

One of his favorite tools for restaurant owners relaunching their businesses?

TouchBistro restaurant POS system – “the best POS system anywhere on the planet,” according to Ramsay.

TouchBistro was featured on seasons one and two of 24 Hours as the POS installed during the restaurant renovations. Our team set up the system, added the new menu, and trained staff how to use the features – all in record time, so they could be ready for the re-opening.

In advance of season three’s launch on January 7, 2020, the TouchBistro team took a moment to chat with Ramsay about the show, his advice for restaurateurs, and why he continues to choose TouchBistro for Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.

On His Show Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back

TouchBistro: Twenty four hours is a really short period of time to turn a restaurant around. Why did you pick that time frame?

Gordon Ramsay: You’ll be surprised what you can do after three decades in this business in 24 hours. We do our due diligence, we do our homework constantly and then we come up with a plan, a conceptualized plan before we get here. So the good news is that we’re sorta rigging these businesses, for two to three weeks, with CCTV cameras. We get all the footage, condensed. I know where all the bodies are buried and then I can get straight to work. So, yeah, it’s twenty-four hours, but it’s almost like a week’s work.

TouchBistro: Is 24 hours enough time to change the way a restaurant owner thinks about their business?

Gordon Ramsay: Sometimes the restaurant owners, when they start sort of watching the business decline, they become recluse. They don’t get outside those four walls. So I come in with an infrastructure, an amazing prescription, and then we try to get them sort of into the new, modern way of thinking.

Customers vote with their feet, so it’s about empowering them to become a little bit more reverent to what’s happening locally. Seasonality is important. You know, you don’t wanna start eating ingredients that are out of season. We’re making sure that restaurant becomes a bedrock in the community again – that’s really important.

TouchBistro: How much of the process is a mental change? 

Gordon Ramsay: It’s tough love. We have to sort of almost strip them of everything they know and then rebuild them on the hour, every hour. Sometimes it starts off with two teams butting heads and it’s like a football game and nobody’s winning. But then as the evening progresses and it all starts to unfold, it comes together in those closing hours.

It’s tough to begin with because I’m pretty straight, very direct, and I haven’t got time to mess around. So it is literally, wake up, this is traveling 1000 miles an hour, I’m gonna put this thing back together. I’m going to leave you with a perfect prescription. Take the medicine and watch the results unfold.

TouchBistro: What typically happens after you and your crew leave?

Gordon Ramsay: Once we’ve put in the best POS system anywhere on the planet, we have regular updates and we also make sure there’s an after-care. When the businesses are super successful, we don’t get praise. When they don’t work, you get blamed. You can’t win either way. So I go in with a positive attitude that we want everything to work – it’s not a glory thing for me. I’m just bringing my expertise with my team to sort of reposition these restaurants. Sometimes, it’s the family that needs fixing. Fix the family, that’s the bedrock, the restaurant will take flight.

TouchBistro: What do you look for in restaurants when choosing them for the show?

Gordon Ramsay: In season three this year, we’re seeing a lot of fragmented families that are bearing the brunt of the negativity in that restaurant. It means fixing them first and then attacking the restaurant.

We’re inundated with requests to join 24 Hours to Hell and Back, and there’s a huge sort of surge towards family-run businesses. I think the big powerhouse conglomerates can look after themselves, but I do care when I see a family destroyed because of the lack of success in the restaurant. I tend to take care and take very seriously the family-run restaurants.

On His Top Advice for Restaurant Owners – On and Off the Show

TouchBistro: What business advice do you give to these individuals that viewers might not get to see in the final version of the show?

Gordon Ramsay: They need to understand that this is a passionate business. Remain local to where you are and think about what’s happening locally. Become a big hit in a small neighborhood, that’s the key to any success. If you can fill your restaurant Monday to Wednesday, trust me, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday will take care of themselves. 

TouchBistro: What is the hardest thing to fix at a restaurant?

Gordon Ramsay: The hardest thing for me to fix when we take on a new restaurant is making them understand how important consistency is. And so that is so, so crucial. If you’re slammed on a Friday night, you need to be as good as you were Monday night with half the covers. That takes a certain brain child to nurse that insight.

TouchBistro: What is your favourite part about working with restaurant owners?

Gordon Ramsay: My favorite part of working with restaurant owners, throughout my career, is seeing how successful they can be. This year we just celebrated 21 years of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. We’re in our 19th year as a three-star Michelin. So when I see young fledglings that leave the nest, that go on to become huge successes, that is so reassuring. And I’m always about finding the future.

The better they become, the better I feel. I have one foot in the kitchen and one foot developing the business. And so I’ve been behind that line. And I’m now like this incredible orchestra, conducting this incredible symphony, and I can’t afford a bum note. I love seeing the grass roots success and blossom. That makes me feel very happy.

It’s a little bit of my DNA, in terms of the discipline, or flavor profile that I’ve given them, or something of an idea that they’ve gone on and created something unique – I love that.

On TouchBistro Being Featured on Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back

TouchBistro: Why did you choose TouchBistro as the POS for 24 Hours to Hell and Back?

Gordon Ramsay: I’ve known about TouchBistro for the last five years. It has an amazing infrastructure that can guide new businesses, existing businesses, and even remote concepts, anywhere in the world.

It’s got this mobile app that can remotely mark your business and track it, hour by hour. So that’s been a big plus for me. Where restaurants have been struggling to implement that kind of infrastructure, that whole package is now in TouchBistro, which has made these restaurants more prolific. 

TouchBistro: How long does it take staff to get comfortable with the system?

Gordon Ramsay: The system is so user friendly, and the training programs are second to none. They’re uncomplicated and don’t require huge amounts of code. [Tableside ordering gives servers] instant freedom, without having to come back to point of sales. This thing has given so much more life to a restaurant. It’s pretty unique.

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Photo of Dana Krook
by Dana Krook

Dana is the former Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, sharing tips for and stories of restaurateurs turning their passion into success. She loves homemade hot sauce, deep fried pickles and finding excuses to consume real maple syrup.

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