Rhodes splits with Sodexho to end restaurant deals

Rhodes splits with Sodexho to end restaurant deals

Following the announcement that Gary Rhodes's Sodexho-backed Michelin-starred restaurants are to close, the chef has confirmed he will take time out to write his next book, but that his future is still in the restaurant business.

"I'm a chef - that will never leave me," he told Caterer. He denied he was in discussions with other contract caterers about future collaborations.

Rhodes and Sodexho are splitting after a partnership that has lasted just over six years. The two stand-alone London restaurants bearing his name - City Rhodes and Rhodes in the Square - will both close.

"The decision is mutual. It's amicable. You get to a point where you need to have something fresh to do," said Rhodes. "From Sodexho's point of view, too, it wants to concentrate more on its industrial catering rather than fine-dining outlets."

Rhodes declined to comment on speculation that Sodexho's poor trading figures were to blame. But a spokesman confirmed that the announcement followed a strategic review recommending the company should focus on its core business.

Sodexho denied reports that it had "poured millions" into the restaurants, but wouldn't disclose figures. Rhodes first teamed up with Sodexho in 1996. Together they opened City Rhodes in the company's Holborn HQ and Rhodes on the Square in Pimlico in 1998.

City Rhodes will close at the end of March, while Rhodes in the Square will continue to be operated by Rhodes until the end of May, when Sodexho will take over. The 24 staff at Rhodes in the Square will be offered positions in the new restaurant while, where possible, the 40 staff at City Rhodes will be found other positions within the company.

Rhodes and Sodexho also launched a chain of brasseries, Rhodes & Co, in 1999, but last year the company closed the two sites in Edinburgh and Manchester. Rhodes had no regrets about his partnership with Sodexho. "We've had a fantastic relationship - it's proved itself with the Michelin stars and six years is a pretty good track record," he said.

\* Another London restaurant, Maison Novelli, in Clerkenwell Green, is to relaunch. The restaurant, made famous by chef Jean-Christophe Novelli, is to become the second London branch of Chez Max.

Novelli left London last year for Auberge du Lac, the restaurant at Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire.

Chez Max is run by restaurateur Max Renzland with the backing of Marco Pierre White. The Parisenne Chophouse, off Brompton Road, was converted into Chez Max last year.

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