Jamie’s Ditchin’

We shouldn’t be surprised by this:

Jamie Oliver’s two flagship London restaurants have gone into administration, although the celebrity chef immediately bought one back.

His upmarket Barbecoa steak restaurant in London’s Piccadilly will close a year after it was re-launched.

The closure of the 12 restaurants will affect at least 200 jobs.

Court documents revealed that Jamie’s Italian had debts of £71.5m.

There’s a world of difference between being a good cook and being able to run a restaurant. Many a decent cook has been persuaded by friends and family to open a restaurant only to find the skills required are quite different. I find Jamie Oliver’s recipes to be hit and miss, but he’s made good money flogging books and doing TV shows so he has some talent. But as a businessman capable of running a restaurant empire he looks about as credible as Diane Abbott for Home Secretary. The mockney cheeky-chappie shtick doesn’t count for much in the hard realities of business.

The chain also closed down six Jamie’s Italian restaurants in January 2017.

At the time, the company said that the closures were due to uncertainties caused by Brexit and a “tough” market.

Or, as someone on Twitter put it, he was selling bland, overpriced crap served on manky old wooden boards. Sadly, these latest developments will leave him with more free time to lecture the British public on how to feed their children and lobby for an increase in state nannying.


25 thoughts on “Jamie’s Ditchin’

  1. They did last for a while.

    I think it’s a bit of a generation thing. The younger people raised on Jamie Oliver have older kids and aren’t going to restaurants and the Next Generation just see him as this old bloke now.

    Also TripAdvisor. People can find good local Italians at a good price now.

    I’m so bored with ‘because Brexit’. At worst there are marginal extra costs, but in a market, everyone suffers higher staff wages, higher prices of goods. Are Carluccios suffering?

  2. Anon it looks like over supply of nearly identical restaurants serving bland food almost untouched by human hand. Strada, basically the same as Jamie’s, is also closing branches.

  3. Yes, and these types of chain all use their vast VC backing to bid up the leases beyond independent affordability, to cluster in the same anonymous locations, thereby killing each other and themselves with oversupply. Great example at the Birmingham ICC where you can experience the full A-Z of Britain’s tired old overpriced chain fast-food masquerading as posh nosh:

    Slug and Lettuce
    Pitcher and piano
    Pizza express
    Cafe Rouge

  4. Your point about the leases is good: Byron is also closing branches. For some reason, the branches I have visited went for large former shops, that they have decked out in trendy grunge industrial style, which are very hard to fill

  5. The 30%, 30%, 30% and 10% rule applies to restaurants. Of the total cost of the meal:

    30% is overhead, rent, electricity, tax etc.
    30% is staff wages
    30% is the cost of ingredients
    10% is the potential profit if you get the rest right.
    Not much for all the risk, eh?

  6. The 30%, 30%, 30% and 10% rule applies to restaurants.

    Which is why a lot of the ones I see in France, even in Paris, I suspect are family run, where the proprietor or his son is the chef and he owns the premises. That would get the costs right down, but even 10% profit sounds high for a restaurant. Still, 5% is a living if you actually own and run the place.

  7. Restauranting is a truly risky business as friends of mine have found out. People see it as a fun way to make money, and it ain’t. It is a hard slog, will consume your entire day, you cannot leave in the hands of someone else and everyone is a potential ripper-off:
    The manager
    The staff
    The customers
    The suppliers
    Your competition (social media is a minefield)

    Chains often start well and then lose their freshness and appeal.

    The current market seems to be looking for the personal experience, different and exclusive food at a good price. OR very upmarket 3 star Michelin at between €180 and €350 per head (also a really hard business).

  8. I’ve thought of running a bar at some point. The conditions under which I’d do so are:

    1. I’d own the premises.
    2. I’d do all the management, I’d be the head barman, I’d do pretty much everything myself except be the barmaid and glass-collector. I’d subcontract the cleaning, or do it myself.
    3. I’d have already made money elsewhere, and wouldn’t need the place to make money necessarily. I’d not want to lose money, but breaking even for periods would be fine.

    A hobby, in other words.

  9. “even 10% profit sounds high for a restaurant”: I’ve seen 3% quoted.

    Still, I take it we may assume that Jamie the Twat will remain a rich chappy.
    He’s probably done wonders for the TV manufacturing industry as it gets to replace all those tellies ruined by people hurling things at the screen when Jamie is on.

    My wife, who is a fine cook, has never rated him.

    I was talking to a couple who recently dined at the Ritz – still pretty good, apparently.

  10. Tim if you want a bar as a hobby look into micropubs. There are a couple in my hometown now and I visited during my Christmas break. They seem to met all your criteria.

  11. Tim if you want a bar as a hobby look into micropubs.

    I was thinking one of those tiny, 4-person bars in Tokyo!

  12. Top tip; take your own wages out of that 30%, and then see if there’s still any profit. Don’t attempt to take them out of the 10%.

  13. Glad to be of service.

    Heh! That one’s new to me. My title was a play on Jamie’s kitchen.

  14. I’ve known people who successfully create and run restaurants as a business, but most of them couldn’t fry an egg. Think of the restaurant owner ‘Bigfoot’ in Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Kitchen Confidential’ as an example.
    And of course at least 50% of success involves knowing when to sell out to some romantic foodie and start out again somewhere else.

  15. And of course at least 50% of success involves knowing when to sell out to some romantic foodie and start out again somewhere else.

    A pal of mine used to run bars in Houston. He said the secret for any bar owner is to hype the absolute shit out of it, open up, hype it up some more, and flip it as fast as you can.

  16. There seems to be a rule with bars that those that are good to go in don’t make money. What the customer wants is a relaxing atmosphere & a genial host. What the bar owner needs is clamouring customers elbow to elbow & no time or opportunity to be genial.

  17. Just sold my house to a woman who started a restaurant, once. The woman could cook no problem, but in a crowded market place where people prefer to eat Kentucky Fried Whatevers out of cardboard boxes in front of the telly, getting people to actually go out and sit nicely at a table and show good manners (aka not eating with your mouth open) proved very hard.

    However her restaurant duly closed before it ran into Oliver-sized debts.

  18. Ate twice at the Kingston branch. Disappointed on both occasions. Food was flavourless and the staff failed to deliver one meal on both occasions. Only went the second time as it was a staff Christmas doo. Twice the price of a Toby carvery and half the taste.

  19. Never eaten at a Jamie’s, thank god. Have been to several of Rick Stein’s (what else is there?) and they were all splendid.

  20. There are two types of people who open restaurants: restauranteurs and businessmen. The restauranteurs employ chefs while the businessmen employ cooks. The only ones who make money are the businessmen.

  21. I ate at one of his Italian restaurants once. It was crap. Everyone I was with said the same about their meals as well.

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