In case you hadn’t heard yet, the Baltimore Sun made a lil’ announcement that chef Gordon Ramsay’s show about restaurants that suck trying to get some tough love in an effort to save them from the brink of disaster – lovingly known as Kitchen Nightmares – will be or already has filmed an episode in Baltimore, featuring everyone’s favorite restauranteur Denise Whiting and Cafe Hon.
I won’t even bother hyperlinking to other articles about the road leading to this situation, we all know why this is happening*. As The Sun suggests it’s probably not mediocre-to-disgusting food or a kitchen full of purestrain gross endangering Cafe Hon, it’s the ownership’s seemingly unflinching ability to screw up her public image and by extension the restaurant’s business. But how on Earth is Kitchen Nightmares going to adequately explain this, or even deal with the problem? How can a show about gross restaurants make anyone outside of Baltimore understand (or care, rather) that placing a copyright on a colloquial term that has existed for generations prior is bad for business – and has this *ever* happened anywhere else? Doesn’t necessarily strike me as great TV and it’s certainly not going to cause anyone living in Hampden or surrounding areas to turn sympathetic; appearing on a hit TV show and asking Gordon Ramsay how to mend relations with a community that loathes the establishment, rather than like, approaching the community yourself and trying to mend relations.
I don’t want to suggest that the nail is in the coffin for Cafe Hon, but I would suggest that Cafe Hon as a “thing” should probably GTFO Hampden – the bridges have been burned to a crisp. Whiting is a competent – if not relentless – marketer, and as a “thing” Cafe Hon could be an
interesting and/or successful addition to say, Harborplace, where tourists can buy all the kitschy crap that Cafe Hon and Hontown or whatever that gift shop is called sells, and residents can continue to complain about how touristy Harborplace has gotten over the past decade plus or so. If not Harborplace, then hell, why not BWI? Cafe Hon could sell *oodles* of fake-Baltimore culture to folks coming through via international destinations, make a jillion dollars in the process, and never have to worry about irritated citizens shitting all over her business.
Failing all of this, just don’t try to enforce that copyright. Ever again. Just don’t. If I were Gordon Ramsay I’d be saying it in that bellowing British fashion that he loves so very much, spittling all over the place and flailing my arms. If Cafe Hon is to stay in Hampden, just keep your head low, shut up, and keep selling pies or meatloaf or whatever it is you sell.
But that’s just me. What say you?