Watch the devastating news about the closing of the restaurants.
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Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire crashed down as the chef announced his ‘much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration.’
Industry experts and food critics have said that the mid-range, overpriced meals offered at Oliver’s three High Street restaurants were a recipe for disaster.
While the celebrity chef’s TV shows and recipe books set high standards for the food industry, his own outlets failed to meet them.
Market analyst Fiona Cincotta said the menu at Oliver’s food outlets was ‘too expensive for mid-range dining and not high-end enough to compete at the more expensive end of the market.’
Food critic Marina O’Loughlin said she would never go back to Jamie’s Italian in London’s Westfield unless she’s ‘paid’ to do so.
Oliver who rose to fame with his first TV show The Naked Chef said Brexit was to blame for the collapse of his restaurant empire.
His food outlets, including Jamie’s Italian, Barbecoa and Union Jacks, owe a whopping £71.5($91) million in debt to the administration.
The hiked up menu prices without a corresponding increase in the food quality, coupled with poor online reviews, led to the downfall of Jamie’s restaurant chain.
Just recently, TripAdvisor reviewers said his Jamie’s Italian Covent Garden branch was overpriced, ‘shocking’, and ‘nothing special.’
‘In the early years it was a destination restaurant but I think over time the message got lost,’ 24-year-old Josh Singh, who works at Jamie’s Italian at the Bullring in Birmingham, said.
‘The company started giving things away and turned into your average high street restaurant instead of a celebrity restaurant.
‘They opened restaurants all over the place and in places where you wouldn’t expect celebrity restaurants to be like villages and very small towns.’
Another staff member, who sought anonymity, said: ‘It was getting too commercial and I felt under pressure to get customers seated and ordered and then out too quickly.
‘On busy nights it felt like a conveyor belt. Why pay £100($127) plus for a meal when you feel under pressure to eat it quickly? You might as well go to McDonalds.’
Gareth Ogden, who is from chartered accountants Haysmacintyre, added: ‘Sky high rents, particularly at its premium sites, combined with soaring business rates have been at the heart of Jamie Oliver’s recent woes.
‘The rescue plan put in place in 2017 appears to have now crashed on the rocks of over-supply in the casual dining market and consumer uncertainty.
‘In a sector awash with excess supply, particularly in the Italian market, maintaining quality, reliability and point of difference is imperative for survival.
‘Jamie’s Italian, the group’s largest brand, is perhaps guilty of over-expansion and has lost the passion and zeal of its founder which was its USP when originally brought to market.’
Jamie’s Italian is not the only food outlet which lost its reputation amid the High Street bloodbath.
Scores of famed food outlets – including Prezzo, Patisserie Valeriebrands, and Gourmet Burger Kitchen – have seen a downfall during the course of two years.
Hospitality industry expert Simon Mydlowski said Jamie’s outlets failed to follow the trends in the food industry.
Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst from Cityindex, said: ‘The restaurant chain, which piggybacked on the fame of Naked Chef Jamie Oliver, has been struggling for years to keep the business model going in which the pasta dishes – most of Jamie’s Italian offering – were too expensive for mid-range dinning and not high end enough to compete in the more expensive end of the market.
‘Higher rent, rising food prices, uncertainty over Brexit and competition from smaller, more nimble outfits, have been eroding the company’s earnings over the last few years.
‘Although nobody in the company blamed Brexit for the situation it is telling that the Jamie Oliver franchise is alive and well abroad, operating 25 restaurants in other countries including Ireland.
‘The demise doesn’t leave much to celebrate, only room for questions about how it could have been done better.’
All of Oliver’s UK restaurants have closed except for three, with the loss of over 1,000 jobs, after the business went to administration.
Taking to Twitter, the celebrity chef expressed his grief at the blow to his food empire.
‘I’m devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration,’ he wrote.
‘I am deeply saddened by this outcome and would like to thank all of the people who have put their hearts and souls into this business over the years.’
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