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The Gordon Ramsay Method 

How a Coeur d’Alene inn survived Hotel Hell and came out the better for it

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Anyone who’s heard the name Gordon Ramsay knows that the fiery Brit doesn’t mince words. Best known for dropping F-bombs on Fox network’s Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsey took his temper and discerning eye to Coeur d’Alene, ripping into the Roosevelt Inn this past February for an episode of Hotel Hell (debuts Monday, Sept. 3, at 8 pm on Fox).

“The primary reason we did this was [for] publicity,” says John Hough, who with wife Tina has owned the Roosevelt Inn since 1999. They answered the casting call last September and were soon contacted for follow-up. A team of chefs arrived to taste the food. Photographers flew in. More interviews, including a financial review.

Then, in mid-February, the call came: Ramsay and crew would arrive in a week. Producers, said the couple, assured them Hotel Hell would feature a softer, gentler Ramsay. After relocating existing guests, the Houghs prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.

They got something in between.

“You pathetic mo-ron,” growls John, imitating Ramsay. The self-proclaimed whipping boy for much of the five-day shoot, John is taking things in stride — especially after seeing Ramsay give his own staff the same drubbings.

And it’s not as if they haven’t benefited. Common areas were revamped and new carpeting was laid in this turn-of-the-century Victorian schoolhouse (John attended first through fourth grade there) that also served as an office building for 20 years. Two rooms were completely remodeled and updated.

Although nothing could be done about the Roosevelt’s cramped kitchen, 150 pieces of Gordon Ramsay’s Maze dishware for Royal Doulton would ensure that food service was attractive. The underutilized, basement-level banquet room received new paint, chairs and lighting.

Just in time, too. Shortly after “the reveal” — halfway through the show, Ramsay eases off and unveils the business’ transformation — the Houghs discovered they’d be hosting a wedding... in three hours.

Out from behind-the-scenes stepped Misty Ceriello, CEO of Denver-based Cameo Events and owner of Storybrook Bridal in Coeur d’Alene. The November prior she’d been asked by producers to queue up three Inland Northwest brides. Who, we wondered, would want to: 1) have their sacred day filmed for TV, especially for Hotel Hell; and 2) keep mum until the show aired?

Surprisingly, nearly three dozen people responded to Ceriello’s post on the local site AppleBrides.com.

“Just because we’re in North Idaho doesn’t mean people want less,” says Ceriello, who with her “Northwest wedding dream team” pulled together a roughly $50,000 wedding in less than two weeks. The best part? All of it was donated: cosmetology, bridal attire, flowers, tuxedos, photography, music, gifts for 40 guests, even the ice sculpture.

Ceriello has since signed on as the Roosevelt’s exclusive wedding coordinator; yet, overall, the inn remains a work-in-progress, says John. Many things Ramsay suggested, he notes, are things they knew they should have be doing, like modernizing decor.

The Houghs tried to sell the Roosevelt in 2010 but have since done an about-face. They’ve hired more staff, focusing on seasoned, customer-service oriented employees and adding three managers. They’re also learning to let go, says John. With four grown children, 11 grandchildren and one en route, the Houghs are looking forward to taking more time off themselves.

If you’re not careful, says John, “the business runs you.” 

Hotel Hell premier screening party • Mon, Sept. 3 at 8 pm • Roosevelt Inn • 105 E. Wallace • $49, includes dinner and two glasses of wine • Reservations required • therooseveltinn.com • (208)765-5200

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