Hotel Hell: Why Ken Pisciotta had to sell River Rock Inn back to its original owners

Hotel Hell: Why Ken Pisciotta had to sell River Rock Inn back to its original owners

The River Rock Inn changed back to Laurel Villa Country Inn just two years after the Hotel Hell episode first aired.

When Chef Gordon Ramsay first visited the River Rock Inn, located in Milford, Pennsylvania in 2012 for the first season of his popular business-rescue show, Hotel Hell, the sources of the failing business’s problems were glaringly obvious.

But what the show did not explain was that before the River Rock Inn became the eatery that fans saw on the show, Janice Halstead and Carl Muhlhauser actually owned and operated it as Laurel Villa for many years.

Ken Pisciotta only bought the business from them in 2011, when he noticed that his original River Rock was being prepped for demolition without his knowledge.

What happened to Ken Pisciotta after Hotel Hell?

Unfortunately, it seems like not everything went as planned after Ramsay and his Hotel Hell team left River Rock Inn in 2012.

Ken announced just two years later that he had approached Janice and Carl (who had held the mortgage in his name) to ask them to return to the restaurant, as he was struggling to get by.

Ken told the Pocono Record in April of 2014 that he and Carl would both be working at the newly-re-renovated Inn, stating, “Carl and I are both Culinary Institute grads, and his family's been in the restaurant business his entire life”, but it seems like these plans were short-lived.

The River Rock Inn officially closed down in December of the same year, and after this somewhat unexpected closure, Janice and Carl continued to run the business under its former name – Laurel Villa Country Inn, without Ken.

According to Reality TV Updates, this name change and rebrand happened after Janice and Carl were forced to foreclose on Ken and take back control of the business.

And since Ken does not really maintain any kind of online presence, there has been no real update on what he is doing now; except for the rumor that he may have started working as the executive chef at The Salty Shamrock Gastro Grill in Florida.

The Laurel Villa Country Inn to River Rock Inn timeline

The River Rock Inn may just hold the record for the most complicated history of any of the lodging establishments featured on Hotel Hell throughout the years.

But the business’s timeline can be summarized as follows:

Date Event
1985 Janice Halstead and Carl Muhlhauser open Laurel Villa Country Inn
July 20, 2011 Ken buys the inn
January 15 – 21, 2012 Filming for Hotel Hell takes place
September 3, 2012 “River Rock Inn” episode first airs
July 15, 2015 Laurel Villa Country Inn reopens

How did Ken feel about the Hotel Hell experience?

Just like most of the owners who have subjected themselves to Ramsay’s scrutiny over the years, Ken enjoyed filming for Hotel Hell even though it was difficult.

He told the Times Herald-Record in August of 2012 before the episode had aired, “You take the good with the bad”.

It seems as though the Hotel Hell team enjoyed their stay in Milford, as well. Adeline Ramage Rooney who was one of the episode’s producers admitted that “Pike County is stunning, and the town itself couldn't have been more friendly and welcoming.”

Why did Ken ask Janice and Carl to return to the business?

The River Rock Inn received fairly positive reviews after Ramsay’s intervention in 2012 and by the time it closed, the inn had a fairly average rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars from 26 reviews on Yelp.

However, as most longtime viewers of the series will know, good reviews are not always enough to keep an establishment like Rover Rock Lodge in business.

Ken admitted in his Pocono Record interview that he had been “struggling to get by” after a difficult winter season in 2012.

He said that he had asked Janice and Carl to come back to the business, as he could not continue “cooking and running he place” at the same time.

The Laurel Villa Country Inn has also closed down

Since the Laurel Villa Country Inn has had such a long history in Milford, many locals were ecstatic when the business made its comeback in 2015.

In the years following River Rock Inn’s closure, Laurel Villa Country Inn seemed to be thriving, with a large group of very loyal patrons. However, the business has now seemingly undergone yet another name change.

On October 22, 2021 the Laurel Villa Country Facebook page announced that the business would be “rebranding it to LaPosada”, after Janice and Carl’s retirement in August, though it is unclear if they still own the property.