The nine contestants get instructions from a Chipotle worker. The contestants, from left: Stephenie, Eric, Jamawn, Joey, Sudhir, Sandy (with Alex hidden in the background), Greg, Marisa and Krystal (note that Greg and Krystal work together as a team).
Let's cut to the chase: In Episode 3 of America's Next Great Restaurant, Marisa gets dumped and, really, there was no surprise here. She seemed to know little about food or her concept. This week's episode included a suggestion for many of the contestants to fine-tune their restaurant names and concept. Marisa went from Wok to Chao. Huh? Doesn't say "stir-fry" to me.
Prediction for next week: Greg and Krystal, at right, get shown the exit door. Their restaurant name went from Hick's to Grill 'Billies; the concept moved from Southern fare tapas-style to Southern grilled foods. Still, when the judges grilled them, neither Greg nor Krystal seemed to know exactly what they wanted out of the restaurant.
Does anyone else wonder why there are all these non-food people in the reality show? Lorena Garcia, judge, says she's looking for passion in a restaurant owner. If I were an investor, I'd be looking first for someone who knows what he or she is doing.
This week the show starts out at a Chipotle franchise where the contestants apparently have an hour to prep for the line before the restaurant opens, which it does, 11 minutes late (why would any restaurant open at noon? or late?). To no one's surprise, most of the contestants have no idea what to do and the line is a shambles before Steve Ells (as we're reminded multiple times, founder of Chipotle who got an $85,000 loan from his father -- does anyone else have a father who can loan them this amount? -- and now makes a gazillion $$$$ so he must know what he's doing), takes charge and shows the contestants how incompetent they are. No mention, however, of the 450 Minnesota Chipotle workers -- 40 percent of its local work force -- who were fired beginning in December last year because of concerns that they were illegal immigrants. Reuters reports in March that, in anticipation of immigration audits, more Chipotle workers quit in Virginia and Washington D.C. The Chipotle audits are bringing attention to the immigration status of fast-food workers.
Then the contestants move on to the next task: tweeking their concept and restaurant names.
Jamawn goes from W3's to Soul Daddy (a good choice and he broadens the concept), Sudhir from Tiffin Box to Spice Coast,
Alex switches from Hard N Soft Tacos to Revolution Tacos, Sandy from Limbo to Sinners & Saints. Stephenie is the only one who sticks with her original name ComplEAT, despite the judges' recommendations. Big mistake, as the judges point out later.
Meltworks (by Eric) and Saucy Balls (by Joey, at right) get to keep their names because the guests on Episode 2 last week at Universal Citywalk endorsed them.
New this week: not a tie worn by the three male judges at any time. (Not new: Lorena is dressed as though she's going out clubbing.) And NBC includes a video clip of the judges which is entirely unflattering toward them as they yawn, look at their watches and otherwise seem bored by the process while they poke fun at each other -- and the contestants.
The show is not exactly a hit with viewers. Sunday's Episode #3 was seen in 2.81 million households and ranks at #75 in the weekly ratings (compare that with its competitor at the same hour, "The Amazing Race," on CBS, which was seen by 6.55 million and ranks #19). Episode #2 was seen in 2.94 millions homes and was #64 in the weekly Nielsen ratings. The show debuted at #63 in the weekly ratings and was watched by 3.25 million households.