So, I had dinner at Amy’s Baking Company…

Background

I’m in Phoenix this weekend for two reasons. The first is to stay at some ridiculously cheap hotels in Phoenix, given that in summer they more or less pay you to stay here. For example, last night I stayed at the Biltmore and booked a $99 rate through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. For booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts I got a $40 breakfast credit, $100 food & beverage credit, upgrade to a named suite, and guaranteed 4PM check-out. And that’s in addition to the Hilton HHonors points I earned.

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The other reason is to eat at Amy’s Baking Company. For those of you that don’t know what that is, watch this episode of Gordon Ramsey’s “Kitchen Nightmares:”

The short summary of it is that in over 100 shows this is the first restaurant Gordon Ramsey walked away from since they just wouldn’t listen. The owner considered anyone that wrote a negative review of the restaurant online to be an “internet bully,” if someone complained about the food they’d kick them out, they paid their servers hourly and took their tips, and in the time they’ve been open they admit to having gone through hundreds of employees. Oh, and on top of all that their food is (supposedly) more or less store bought. But the best part wasn’t even the show, but what they started posting on Facebook after the show when people started giving them a piece of their mind.

My Experience

I decided to go to Amy’s Baking Company last night with three friends. I should actually be more accurate and say that I had to drag them there. They weren’t willing to go but eventually we compromised by agreeing to first have dinner at a place we knew was good, and then going to Amy’s Baking Company to order a few things and nibble on them, so we wouldn’t be actively mean/grouchy.

It was a Friday night and around 8PM, so we figured it would be full (not of people dining there for the food, but of people dining there for the “experience”).

As we walked up to the restaurant my heart was literally racing. I was giddy. I felt like I was about to meet a celebrity that I loved to hate.

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The most surprising part is that the restaurant was completely empty. Like, there wasn’t a single person in it, just Samy standing near the door.

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As we entered Samy was extremely nice — “yes… hello… welcome… please sit anywhere… maybe a booth… maybe a table… you want some water… how about some lemon water.” And I use the ellipses because that was all kind of just one run on thought/sentence on his part.

We sat down and were presented with menus, and I did what I could to control my inherent desire to just giggle myself to death. It’s worth noting that the restaurant really is beautiful. It’s immaculately clean and nicely decorated, and even had Phantom of the Opera music playing.

We looked over the menu and as is discussed in the show they have tons of options, far too many for such a small restaurant.

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When it came time to order, we ordered a small pizza margherita, a caprese salad, and then we asked which gnocchi was best.

Samy’s response, not surprisingly, was that “they’re all delicious and homemade, really all of them are good. But I like the bolognese one.”Ā So we ordered that.

He followed that up with “I don’t know if you saw the show, but what you saw on the show was just TV and nothing more. All of our food is amazing and you will see shortly.” We just nodded our heads, and he followed that up with “yeah, and in two to three weeks we will have our own reality show, and you will see the real Amy’s Baking Company.” I said “oh, that’s exciting, what network will it be on?” He said “oh, we haven’t gotten that far yet.” I just responded with “I hope it works out.”

At that point he said “you know we went against the whole internet and we won. The whole world knows about me now and we get the last laugh, we are still around and doing well.” I tried to avoid laughing, given that we were sitting in a completely empty restaurant at 8PM on a Friday night. Did they really win?

But as we waited for our food I actually felt bad. Samy was a really, really nice and attentive guy. He would constantly be over to see if we wanted anything (there weren’t any other waitstaff) and was just really pleasant. Is he completely delusional? Well, of course. But he’s still nice.

To start we had the caprese salad. It was pretty abysmal. The tomatoes weren’t ripe yet and the mozzarella was really “hard,” which just made for a bad, crunchy combo.

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Next was the pizza margherita. Perhaps it was meant to be that way, but I wish the cheese would have been melted a bit more, because it fell right off. The crust was abysmal. While it wasn’t raw, but it tasted like a microwaved frozen pie crust.

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Then we shared an order of the baked gnocchi bolognese. Again, I don’t know if they’re just morally opposed to (probably re)heating stuff properly, but the cheese wasn’t melted all the way.

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We sat there for a while enjoying the wonderful ambiance, and two other diners came in and shared a pizza. I couldn’t tell if they just randomly stumbled on the place or were there for the “experience,” but they seemed oddly calm and non-giggly.

Eventually a young couple came in and just ordered a piece of cake to go. They were laughing as they walked in and asked for a picture with Samy, and he kindly obliged. Then they asked for a picture with Amy. Samy initially said she was busy in the kitchen, but after he realized they were friendly she agreed to a picture as well.

The couple said they’d have to come back some time for dinner, and Samy said “yes yes, you must,” and he looked over to the table that was eating the pizza and said “you tell them how delicious the food is.” They said — and I can’t tell if they were being sarcastic or not — “it’s great, the crust is amazing!”

Anyway, then we had dessert, which was beautifully displayed.

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We ordered a piece of piece of chocolate mousse cake and a tart that said “MEOW” on it, I assume named after Amy’s three children (trapped in cat bodies).

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Conclusion

Going to Amy’s Baking Company was a dream come true. I know I might sound totally crazy or sarcastic for saying that, but this is just one of those weird things I wanted to experience.

Yes, the food is as bad as Gordon says. Yes, the owners are delusional and convinced that their food is worthy of multiple Michelin stars.

But I actually… how do I say this… felt a little bit bad for them. Samy was such a nice guy and seemed to have a decent head on his shoulders. Amy is a different story, so I’m not sure what to make of all of it. The one last thing I should mention is that I didn’t fill one of my dining companions in on the story, so she actually didn’t know the story behind the place until after we left. On our way out she briefly talked to Amy and said “something doesn’t seem right with that woman.”

But seriously, this was probably the highlight of my year. Yeah, I’m that cool.

PS: If anyone’s looking for a job…

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Comments

  1. This was AMAZING. I can’t say I’d be as disciplined to be on my best behavior. It would just be too tempting. Thank you Ben.
    -JRL

  2. I had a pizza from Uno’s recently. The cheese was the same (unmelted). At least your crust looked browned (unlike mine). Maybe they were in at hurry. It was at Baltimore Inner Harbor on a Saturday night and they were pretty busy.

  3. Since you’re in the area try Pizzeria Bianco. Arguably one of the best pizza places in the country.

  4. The reason they have no servers on a Friday night is cause they know they don’t need one. Plus who would want to work and make no money? Anyways Samy likes to do everything, as we saw in the show.

    They are definitely delusional. I remember they claimed their FB page was hacked and the FBI was investigating. Yeah right.

    That is too funny it was completely empty on a Friday night at 8pm. Wow.

    Enjoyed the write-up Ben! Now I hope you don’t get food poisoning. LOL

  5. You’re just another negative bully blogger!!!!

    This place HAS to be a front for money laundering. I hope you at least picked up the check for your friends after dragging them to this train wreck.

  6. When I watched the show and also after seeing your photos I wonder how good their baked food is. In particular the cakes. They look really good and I think Chef Ramsey had no complaints about the cake. If so they should stick to their name and focus on baking.

  7. @EndlosLuft – From what I remember, the cakes (and other sweets) aren’t housemade, even though they are claimed to be. They’re actually purchased from other bakeries and passed off as being made in-house (ABC actually stole images from other bakeries and put them on Facebook as their own…). The desserts might be a safer choice than actual food from the menu because of that šŸ™‚

  8. Ben, everyone is capable of isolated charm and attentiveness. if you’d have said the wrong word, you’d have seem a tv flashback from such a loose cannon. frankly, i don’t know if i could do it- i’d feel ‘dirty’ giving them my money. i’d hate to think ‘experience’ diners are keeping these 2 lunatics in business.

  9. I find Phoenix to be pretty awful all of the year, summer obviously even worse. I will never figure out why they stopped the wagons there, or Tucson for that matter, so i hope your mattress run was worth leaving the beautiful Northwest, which is spectacular this time of year.

  10. After how they treated customers on the show, there is no way I would frequent their business that would ‘indirectly’ help to fund their ‘business’. Honestly, I’m surprised they still managed to stay open given all that’s happen and the few customers they get.

  11. I lived for 8+ years just down the road from the place. Maybe 1-2 miles. Head east on Shea and south on Hayden and take the first left into a nice neighborhood.

    The place to eat in that shopping center is Betterfields. Great breakfasts. Pancakes are excellent plus they have a German style pancake that takes ~30 minutes because they are baked in an over.

    Also there is a Gelato place and another restaurant that gets the crowds. I don’t recall ever seeing a crowd in ABC and it always had a bad reputation. Besides the food places I use to frequent the shopping center often because there was a gym across from ABC for about 10 yrs before they were bought out and closed down.

    Next time you are out that way check out those places or even better get a rental car and drive about 90 minutes north and spend a day in Sedona seeing the red rocks. Well worth the visit.

  12. How do they stay in business with so little business?

    Maybe the money laundering theory is accurate, but for that to work, they need revenue.

  13. My thoughts are that if there are really that few customers, then how old is the food that Lucky was served? When I was younger I worked as a waiter for several years and we would have to replenish the food in the kitchen every two days. I don’t see that happening here unless everything is frozen…..

  14. Lucky you are too funny that you actually went there. Not sure if you ever caught the cartoon version at:

  15. @ Carl P — The dessert was fairly good. Not the best I’ve had in my life, but really quite good.

  16. Ben, all you had to do was post Nick’s hilarious video and we’d have had all the humor without having to read about you rewarding delusional assholes with real money. The money you spent was a vote of confidence for more of the same crap in the minds of those two. Like many other posters what really makes me scratch my head is how this company can stay in business after alienating anyone who might want to work or eat there. I have no specific knowledge of how these owners collected enough money to fund this abysmal excuse for a restaurant but I can say that they don’t appear to have the morals or ethics to have earned it honestly. The cook is all God this and God that, but never here her consider treating her employes the way she’d want to be treated in their situation. You’d think we already had enough spiritual fraud on this planet to last us hundreds of lifetimes, but I guess there’s always room for more so long as you can convince people with nothing else going on to come over and pay good money for the freak show.

  17. The first time I heard about ABC was when you posted about the video during one of your LH’s dining experience. I saw the full video. Next time I am in PHX I will go to ABC and test that out. I will try to talk to Amy as well and see how grumpy that kid is! Kudos that you tried this one is. We did sth like this in Boston suburb and felt so weird that I wanted to dispute the charge on my CC though I did not!

  18. Lucky, @abby hit the nail on the head. Those two deserve each other and everything they are currently reaping.

  19. So, perhaps that episode was more “reality” than most. It really was something else; thanks for scoping the place out as I was actually thinking of going in Feb., but now you have answered my questions and confirmed it is a awful place.

  20. @ Alex – Youā€™re just another negative bully commenter!!!!
    You HAVE to be a front for harassing Lucky and Amy’s Baking Company. I hope you at least thought about apologizing to Lucky after typing this train wreck.

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