Sebastian’s shot to fame after featuring on season 1 of Kitchen Nightmares in 2007. Given how entertaining the episode was, fans of the show have long wondered what happened to the place and its owner after the cameras stopped rolling.
About The Owner
Located in Toluca Lake, California, Sebastian’s was the brainchild of Sebastian Di Modica. He’s a part-time actor with a flair for the culinary arts, known for appearing in the film Our Lips Are Sealed. Having honed his culinary prowess under his mother’s watchful eye from a tender age, Di Modica took the leap and acquired his restaurant in 2005. However, his fiery temperament led to the dismissal of 49 employees within a year. The restaurant was bleeding money, and Di Modica’s wife, Nichole, invested $300,000 to keep it afloat.
Gordon Ramsay visited Sebastian’s to help the struggling restaurant regain its footing. Unimpressed with the photos on the menu, Gordon tasted their calamari, a New York strip steak, and a pizza. Despite the eatery’s assurance of freshness, the waitress Sonja revealed the calamari was frozen, which left Ramsay disappointed.
The pizza and steak failed to impress him, and he confronted Di Modica about the food quality and his dishonesty. The owner admitted the pizza doughs were frozen but insisted that the menu concept was their specialty. The restaurateur’s attempt to impress Gordon backfired, resulting in a disastrous service with microwaved food and unused wood-burning ovens.
Ramsay proposed a new menu focusing on wood-fired pizzas the following day. Although Di Modica resisted the change, professional pizza tossers were brought in to train the staff, and the place underwent a quick makeover, including the addition of a fresh dough mixer. On relaunch night, the owner’s dissatisfaction with the new menu led to chaos in the kitchen as he tried to revert to the old menu. Gordon confronted Di Modica, expressing his lack of faith in him while admitting to being particularly impressed by the staff.
Reviews After The Revamp
Following Gordon Ramsay’s takeover of the food menu and preparation methods, numerous customers lauded the enhanced food quality leading to a surge in demand. However, the success was short-lived, as Di Modica’s old habits began to resurface once Gordon left. The restaurant struggled to maintain consistency, and the initial boost from the show began to wane. Negative reviews started to pile up, and the financial troubles that had plagued Sebastian’s from the beginning worsened.
What Happened To Sebastian’s?
Sebastian’s ultimately closed its doors in January 2008, just a few months after the episode aired. Di Modica stated family reasons for the restaurant’s closure, but it is likely that the business could not sustain the improvements and overcome its negative reputation. Moreover, the staff faced various challenges, including a lack of leadership and a convoluted menu that also confused customers.
A pizzeria called Robano’s soon replaced Sebastian’s. However, it shut down in 2014. Another restaurant called Red Door replaced Robano’s. Though Red Door received solid reviews, it followed the same fate as its predecessors and was shut down in 2022. As of today, developers have demolished the entire restaurant building to construct a 38-unit apartment complex.
What is Sebastian Di Modica Doing Now?
Sebastian Di Modica has moved on from the restaurant business and now lives in New England. In 2013, he made a brief return to acting appearing in the movie Angels Around Me as a detective. He currently runs a landscaping company and a consulting company with his wife, Nicole. According to his Linkedin profile, he’s the owner of The Di Modica Group Inc. Their consulting business claims to help other companies “restructure, reorganize and return to profitability”. Let’s hope they’re not helping restaurants!