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'Hotel Hell' skewers Longview hotel’s owner, delighting ex-employees

Almost every seat in the Kelso Theater Pub was filled for last night's broadcast of the 'Hotel Hell' episode filmed at Longview's Monticello Hotel.

The Monticello Hotel’s “Hotel Hell” appearance turned into an intervention for the owner and the hotel Monday, but former staff were outraged that FOX didn’t mention the closures that followed the show’s visit.

Despite the star treatment during June 2013 filming, the Longview restaurant, bar and banquet facilities were abruptly closed by owner Phillip Lovingfoss on New Year's Day, with no notice to staff. Monday, at a Kelso Theater Pub showing of the episode, many ex-employees expressed their anger at the show’s rosy assessment of the hotel’s future.

“I think they should have put the closure on there,” former executive chef Dan Laney said after the show.

“I didn’t feel like it was very accurate,” added former bartender Jennifer Bolar. “They showed Phillip saying he was going to treatment, but they should have showed us all unemployed.”

The slams started early in Monday’s episode and kept coming, complete with Gordon Ramsay’s trademark candor and foul mouth.

Ramsay made fun of misspellings on help wanted signs outside the hotel and was outraged to be given a motel room in the 1960s annex instead of one inside the historic 1923 hotel.

The swear words started flying when he sampled the menu — including frozen shrimp, “disgusting” teriyaki sauce and something he terms “snot dip.” He also was upset to learn that chef Laney had no say over the menu offerings and that many of items were frozen or prepackaged on Lovingfoss’ orders.

The trouble continued in Ramsay’s room. Not only did he dismiss much of the furniture as ugly, Ramsay was horrified to learn that some pieces were castoffs form Lovingfoss’ home — including a used mattress in a $250 a night room. Worse yet, when he shined a blacklight on the mattress Ramsay found old semen stains, causing him to sleep in the bathtub instead.

'Hotel Hell' skewers Longview hotel’s owner, delighting ex-employees

Former Monticello Hotel employees, from left, Jessica Link, Holly Smith and Jonathan White applaud developments on 'Hotel Hell' at the Kelso Theater Pub Monday night.

“You’re charging people $250 to sleep in filth,” Ramsay told Lovingfoss.

The focus of the episode, though, was what staff described as a lack of leadership from Lovingfoss and his battles with drinking. His DUI arrest the night before filming is prominently featured, and Ramsay and the staff lead an intervention asking him to get help. Several staff said they feared he’d kill himself or someone else if he didn’t stop drinking.

Lovingfoss initially walked out of the intervention but later told Ramsay he’d seek treatment, which brought a chorus of hoots and jibes from the raucous Kelso Theater Pub crowd. The show never said whether Lovingfoss went to treatment.

Lovingfoss watched the show at a private party at the Shamrock Tavern but wouldn’t allow Daily News staff in and wouldn’t answer any questions.

Lovingfoss inherited the hotel from his late wife, Annabelle Juell-Lovingfoss, as part of a $10 million estate, he told Ramsay. He estimated he was losing about $30,000 a month at the time of the June 2013 filming.

Several staff members told Ramsay that Lovingfoss and his manager (and girlfriend) Ginger Allred were stingy with salaries and supplies but then lived it up on Lovingfoss’ yacht and showed off fancy jewelry and cars.

At one point, Lovingfoss tells Ramsay his staff are lying about the problems, which Ramsay didn’t believe.

“The problem isn’t the staff, it’s you,” he told Lovingfoss, which was met with deafening cheers at the theater pub.

The hotel, motel, apartments and office rentals remain open but the fate of the rest of hotel remains unclear, despite Ramsay saying bookings had picked up and there’s a bright future for the hotel.

Lovingfoss said he’ll lease the facilities or possibly sell the building outright if he finds a buyer who will respect the hotel’s history, which hosted Longview’s dedication celebration in 1923.

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Barbara LaBoe covers courts and law enforcement for The Daily News. Reach her at 360-577-2539 or


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