BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A Baltimore “Hon-troversy” heats up in Hampden. The embattled Cafe Hon restaurant gets national attention as a kitchen nightmare.
Kai Jackson shows us how a celebrity chef is trying to solve the fight over the “Hon” trademark once and for all.
Cafe Hon owner Denise Whiting said going on national television was the last thing she wanted to do, but perhaps the best thing she could have done.
It’s all things Cafe Hon on Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” on Fox, which was shown in the restaurant.
The show serves up a heapin’ helping of ways to improve restaurants while stirring the pot of controversy.
“I didn’t like this fella Gordon Ramsay. He looks like a tough cookie,” Jerry Hockstein from Catonsville said.
Yet in Friday’s episode, the issue of food was practically on the back burner.
“I think that to trademark the word ‘Hon’ was not a great idea,” Diane Fefferneas from Kingsville said.
Ramsay’s focus was on owner Denise Whiting and her decision to trademark the word “Hon.”
“It was business decision. It was a bad decision,” she said.
Supporters believed Whiting’s decision showed business savvy.
“She wanted to sell her mugs, her t-shirts.”
Critics called it self-serving.
“She trademarked the term ‘hon,’ which is a cultural icon in Baltimore,” a host on Fox Radio said.
As gut-wrenching as it was, Whiting believes she, her staff and Cafe Hon are better for having been on prime time TV.
In the long run, Whiting’s nightmare wasn’t in the kitchen. It was in the area of public relations.
She eventually gave up the “hon” trademark, and with Ramsay’s help, revamped the menu.
“I think it’s an opportunity for us to have a rebirth,” Whiting said. “It’s like opening up a brand new restaurant.”
This week, Cafe Hon is 20 years old.
The show spent a week filming inside the restaurant.