As the Scottsdale, Ariz., restaurant Amy’s Baking Company tries to recover from its disastrous appearance on Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” its owners have been hit with yet another obstacle. According to a new report, co-owner Samy Bouzaglo is now facing deportation.
Bouzaglo, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Amy, found sudden notoriety following the May 10 episode of “Kitchen Nightmares,” which showed him throwing customers out of his restaurant when they complained about the food. The episode provoked an extreme backlash on sites like Yelp and Reddit, where commenters took the Bouzaglos to task for allegedly confiscating tips from their staff without letting diners know and reselling baked foods made by other bakeries at marked-up prices.
The Bouzaglos, who responded to several negative comments about their business in a profanity-laced rant, have admitted to reselling food baked by other companies, but maintain that they pay their employees well. On Tuesday, the couple hosted a “grand reopening” for the restaurant, which closed after it appeared on the Gordon Ramsay-hosted TV show.
According to AZ Central, Bouzaglo’s tenuous immigration status is unrelated to his appearance on “Kitchen Nightmares.” Arizona immigration lawyer David Asser, who is representing Bouzaglo, said the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement case against the restaurateur began two years ago. Asser said that on Monday, Bouzaglo was the subject of a removal hearing, but that any proximity to their television appearance was accidental. "I didn't know they were going to go on" the show, Asser said.
Although Bouzaglo, 63, was born in Morocco, he is an Israeli citizen. He married Amy in 2004 and the couple lived together in Las Vegas before resettling in Gold Canyon, Ariz. After the widely watched episode aired, reports surfaced that Amy Bouzaglo had served 14 months in prison for bank fraud prior to her current marriage. On Tuesday, Samy also acknowledged that had served time in prison before immigration to the United States. “The FBI knows all about me. ... The IRS knows,” he said. “I want people to know about me. But not today, not tomorrow. I have nothing to hide.”
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“We both made mistakes in the past. We have done our time,” Amy said. “We can’t comment. We know God is with us.”
In the week leading up to their “grand reopening,” the Bouzaglos had announced over Facebook that they might be holding a press conference to tell their side of the story. But the day before the event, the press conference was canceled due to legal threats from Fox, the Associated Press reported.
The news agency reported that fewer than a dozen people waited outside the restaurant ahead of the reopening on Tuesday night. Ricky Potts, a blogger who attended the event, said that the lack of drama was a disappointment. "I wanted it to be dramatic and people yelling," Potts said, adding that the food had been good. "Basically, I wanted it to be the circus that the TV episode was."
View an animated spoof of the Bouzaglos’ appearance on “Kitchen Nightmares” below.