Last orders for Gordon Ramsay?

His empire has hit lean times as another of his London pubs is up for sale. Pavan Amara reports on the TV chef's own kitchen nightmares

Sunday 23 October 2011 05:49

The controversial restaurateur Gordon Ramsay is poised to call last orders on another outpost of his empire after suffering the same collapse in custom as some of the chefs he berates on his Kitchen Nightmares television show.

His latest troubled outlet is The Warrington, a pub in north-west London that he has run since 2006. Ramsay is believed to have put the property on the market just weeks after poor trading forced him to shut another pub, The Devonshire, in Chiswick, west London.

His woes compound what has been tough time for his empire overseas. Last month, the chef was forced to close his exclusive Cape Town restaurant Maze in South Africa, which was believed to be losing £10,000 a week. In the 12 months to August 2009, Ramsay's international restaurants lost more than £8m, despite the chef's £5m cash injection into his business at the end of 2008 to save it from administration. One-off costs for the group rose to £5.8m after the company wrote off investments in venues in New York, California and Florida.

Ramsay paid £5.2m to acquire The Warrington four years ago, spending a further £800,000 on refurbishments. At the time, Ramsay intended to use the site to launch a gastropub chain that would establish him as a force outside the refined world of haute cuisine. But the latest disposal would leave him with just one pub to his name, The Narrow in east London.

Like many of Ramsay's restaurants, The Warrington had endured its share of bad press. In the most recent edition of the Harden's guide the pub was singled out for being a "Kitchen Nightmare of truly astonishing proportions". It also came under fire when one newspaper claimed the pub served frozen food prepared in a central kitchen.

Although no one from Gordon Ramsay Holdings was available yesterday, a spokesman blamed the decision to close The Devonshire on poor trading conditions in the pub market.

If he fails to get back what he paid for the pub, he can at least comfort himself with the windfall he got from selling his 50 per cent stake in the TV company, One Potato Two Potato, that makes all his shows, which include Hell's Kitchen as well as Kitchen Nightmares. Ramsay is thought to be in line for up to £5m from the sale.

And after losing some of his most prestigious restaurants in London – including Petrus, the Boxwood Café, and his self-named restaurant at the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair – accounts showed that his remaining restaurants in the capital have fared better, contributing £515,373. Ramsay will be hoping he can persuade one of his star protégées, Angela Hartnett, who runs the Michelin-starred Murano restaurant, from joining an exodus of head chefs in recent years. Ms Hartnett is thought to be keen to branch out alone, although a GRH spokesman has denied that she is thinking of leaving.

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