Brian McManus Sheds Not a Single Tear: RIP Hot Potato Cafe

By Brian McManus

File Under Not So Potato-riffic: Fishtown’s Hot Potato Café is no more.


Or under “Well, That Was Only A Matter of Time.” We saw the signs of this as far back as early June, when we sat outside a extremely packed Krafttwork next door and noted that not one person went in or out a very open-for-business Hot Potato Café all night. That is, until the owners locked up around 8 p.m. It was a Saturday night. Not a good sign.

Shortly after, via, we heard the news that the space was up for sale on Craigslist. Now, it’s official, Hot Potato Café has turned off the lights, disconnected the phone and its owners have moved on.

Of course, we have some history with the BYOB. It was our review, “Spuddy Hell,” written in the summer of 2007, that the owners held partly responsible for never being able to get a toehold in the neighborhood. Later, friends of the restaurant anonymously nominated it for Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, and the Michelin starred chef came to town, exposing for the world what anyone who’d eaten at the joint already knew: that it was run by a family well in over their heads, people who had no business operating, as Gordon would say, a “rest-runt.” They served him month old frozen potato skins without any potato in them, and several other abysmal dishes.

Ramsay attempted to turn the place around. And he did…for a night. The night he was there truly was great. There was an energy about the room. The wait staff weren’t slouching through an embarrassing evening serving food they weren’t proud of. People were smiling, laughing, enjoying themselves. Gordo bounded around the room attending to guest. Lights, camera, action.

Then the lights faded. Danielle—a relative of the family who came away the star of the Kitchen Nightmares episode—quit. We started getting emails that the quality had fallen off again. Things went back to the way they were. Which is to say “bad.”

RIP Hot Potato Café. We can’t really say we’ll miss you, but we are sad it didn’t work out.

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