By Chris Kaltenbach
The Baltimore Sun
9:24 PM EST, December 14, 2012
All's well at Cafe Hon, and Chef Gordon Ramsay is very pleased.
That was the message of Friday night's "Kitchen Nightmares" on Fox, as Ramsay revisited the Hampden eatery where he was instrumental in tamping down a war that had erupted over owner Denise Whiting's decision to trademark the word "Hon."
After recounting Ramsay's initial visit to the restaurant, in fall 2011, the segment got down to brass tacks. First, he stopped in to see MIX 106.5's JoJo and Reagan, who assured him that, as far as they knew, things were going just fine at Cafe Hon. The food was better, they said, the staff seemed happier -- the first piece portrayed them as primed for a full-scale revolt -- and the community seemed ready to let bygones be bygones, especially once Whiting made good on her promise to let go of the trademark.
(The piece, chronicling a May 2012 visit to Cafe Hon, was taped before JoJo was fired by 106.5 last week -- one of the perils of taping so far in advance of broadcast.)
From there, Ramsay went back to Cafe Hon. And while he's still clearly not a fan of the huge flamingo hanging outside, the visit was otherwise all hugs and kisses.
The restaurant was full. "You look terrific," Ramsay told a beaming Whiting. "It's a lot easier to work here now," one of her waitresses said. "I feel like you've given me my life back and my restaurant back," Whiting told Ramsay. City Councilmember Nick Mosby presented Whiting with a resolution, for being such a good citizen. And Whiting cooked Ramsay a guacamole burger, which he proclaimed "delicious."
Whiting admitted that her business fell off about 20 percent during the Great Trademark Brouhaha, but said people are coming back. "I really feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulder," she said to the camera. "I could be me again."
And once again, all was well in Hampden -- even if the folks at Fox called it "Hampton" on the show's website, and during the show, the neighborhood was called a "suburb" of Baltimore.
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