Howard County Times

What we learned from watching Gordon Ramsay make over Ellicott City in ‘24 Hours to Hell and Back’

Gordon Ramsay’s “24 Hours to Hell and Back” TV special aired on Fox with much anticipation Tuesday night, nearly three months after the celebrity chef visited Ellicott City.

In the two-hour special, Howard County residents got their first peek inside the three renovated businesses.


Ramsay and his film crew spent Feb. 21 to 28 on a largely secretive mission in historic Ellicott City relocating and upgrading the Little Market Cafe; Jaxon Edwin, a barbershop, coffee bar and game room; and a merger of the Phoenix Emporium and Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, now called Phoenix Upper Main.

“I’ll do everything in my power to save this town,” Ramsay said during the episode. “This is the biggest project I’ve taken on.”


In case you missed it, here’s what we learned:

Ramsay scoped out Ellicott City in disguise

Ramsay frequently begins his “24 Hours to Hell and Back” episodes in disguise, and this special was no different. Ramsay began his Ellicott City tour dressed up as a historian, not recognizable as a celebrity chef. He dined at the former Ellicott Mills Brewing Company before revealing his true identity to a packed restaurant.

Cal Ripken Jr. made a surprise appearance

Two weeks ago we got a hint of Ripken’s involvement when Fox released the trailer, but on Tuesday night we saw the baseball legend’s hands-on work firsthand. With screws in his teeth, Ripken helped Phoenix Upper Main owner Mark Hemmis put together shelves in the newly merged and renovated restaurant.

The Phoenix gets a new name

In December, Hemmis announced the merger of the Phoenix Emporium and Ellicott Mills Brewing Company. During the week Ramsay was in town for the renovations, a new sign appeared above the merged restaurant that read “Phoenix Brewing Company.” Now we’re learning, the new name of the merged restaurant is Phoenix Upper Main. As of Tuesday night, the sign is no longer there.

Ellicott City will be spotlighted at M&T Bank Stadium

Howard County Times: Top stories


Daily highlights from Howard County's number one source for local news.

Halfway through the special, the local business owners met Ramsay at M&T Bank Stadium for a surprise. There he revealed a historic Ellicott City advertisement that will be displayed during the first Ravens home game this season.

Ramsay has a soft spot

Viewers saw a more reserved side to the celebrity chef, known for his brash and ruthless feedback to restaurant owners and employees. On multiple occasions Ramsay warmly embraced Little Market Cafe owner Jeni Porter, Jaxon Edwin owner Jeff Braswell and Hemmis. Ramsay said, in part, “I’m here to do something completely different.”

The episode began and ended with disclaimers that the episode was shot before the coronavirus pandemic.

Phoenix Upper Main is currently open for carryout from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays with a special to-go menu. Beer and wine are also available for pickup. Orders can be made online or by phone.


The Little Market Cafe is planning to reopen for carryout from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays starting this week. People will be able to order online, by phone or at the cafe’s outdoor kiosk.

Jaxon Edwin reopened last week to support essential workers who need haircuts during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Braswell, owner of Jaxon Edwin, said he’s practicing social distancing by allowing one stylist and one customer in the business at a time. Appointments are required online or by phone and can be made from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Jaxon Edwin also is offering carryout and curbside pickup of small plates and cocktails through online ordering from 3 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.