For several days this week, the producers of a long-running network TV program have turned a quiet, tree-lined 172nd Street in Bayside into a back lot, as “Kitchen Nightmares” moved in to give a makeover to Kati Allo, a Greek restaurant.
As the show enters its seventh season on the air, Kati Allo was its first stop. The program, which criss-crosses the country in search of restaurants that need some assistance, last visited the borough two and a half years ago.
A reality series based on a British series called “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares,” the show often finds renowned chef Gordon Ramsay turning ordinary, often empty restaurants into the most popular venues in town through improved menus, management and decor.
The show premiered in this country on Sept. 19, 2007 on Fox, and it has been offering glimpses into how restaurants run and kitchens work ever since. It has sometimes been on the receiving end of critical drubbings, focusing as it tends to do on the mishaps, arguments and emotional breakdowns of the restaurant owners and employees, all of which make for popular viewing.
Residents of the normally residential neighborhood, where several block-long trailers have set up shop, have remained rather nonchalant, though some, living just steps away from the restaurant, admitted to being excited by a touch of excitement in their midst.
A mother and daughter, who, for the past eight years, have lived a few doors down from the corner of 172nd Street and Francis Lewis Boulevard, where the restaurant is located, were largely unfazed by the shoot.
“It’s a little exciting,” the mother, who wished to be identified only as Diane, said. She added that she has never watched the program, but “now we will.”
Her daughter, Krystyna, once worked at the restaurant as a waitress — for just two days last summer, before leaving for another job.
“They could use some re-modeling,” Krystyna admitted, “with their appearance, the service and the food.”
The restaurant’s closest neighbors were glad it is receiving some help.
“I’m not a big fan of Greek food,” Phil Seiter said. His wife, Joanne, was disappointed that the food at Kati Allo “was not genuine Greek. If you don’t have authentic Greek dressing, you shouldn’t even bother.”
Both claim to be fans of the show. Joanne Seiter said, “It’s one of the few reality shows I watch,” while her husband added, “We like the way Chef Ramsay comes in and solves the problems. He can be a little gruff at times, but it’s part of his charm.”
No one seemed to mind having the show’s trucks monopolizing parts of their street.
“Personally, it’s not a problem for me,” Diane said. “But the people using the stores ... I’ve seen them circling. But it looks like they’ve been managing.”
For Phil Seiter, “The only difference is you have to park up the block. But we know they won’t be here all that long.”
Danny, manager of Asian Chef, a Chinese take-out next door to Kati Allo, was glad that his neighbor was going to be featured on television.
“More people will know about the area, especially this block,” he said. “It used to be a quiet block.”
According to Danny, the crew began setting up across the street last Thursday. Nearby permit signs indicate that the block would be used for a film shoot from July 11-18. After Thursday, things should be back to normal.
Would the Seiters give the restaurant another try following Ramsay’s visit? “Absolutely,” they agreed.
Neither Ramsay nor the owners of Kati Allo were available for comment. According to a representative for the show, the set was closed to members of the press and all parties involved were “under embargo until the episode airs.”
The aide said no air date has been set yet, but believes it would be sometime in the winter or spring of next year.