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Amaryllis closure fails to dent Ramsay expansion

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Gordon Ramsay is to open another restaurant in London this November. Jason Atherton, executive chef at the Dubai Hilton, will front the 65-seat restaurant, which will be “architecturally-led” by New York designer David Rockwell.

“It’s going to have a hint of an Asian influence. It’s going to be a fun place,” said Ramsay, who admitted he was also in discussions with Blackstone, the Savoy Group’s parent company, with a view to opening a New York restaurant.

This news comes hot on the heels of the closure of Ramsay’s one-Michelin-starred Glasgow restaurant, Amaryllis, after Gordon Ramsay Holdings announced that it was focusing on its London interests. The company closed its St James Street restaurant, Fleur, at the beginning of the year because of lease complications.

Ramsay said he could no longer incur the losses at Amaryllis, estimated to be £200,000 per year. “It would be idiotic for me to continue trading. I could not afford to continue supporting the losses and risk a contagious effect within the company.

“There’s only so long you can be humiliated in front of your accountant. You have to remove your emotions from the decision, which is hard because cooking is based on emotion.”

Despite the fact that Amaryllis closed with 770 forward bookings, Ramsay said that business was not steady enough to sustain the restaurant.

But the 37-year-old chef did not rule out opening another Scottish restaurant in future. “If I open up there again, maybe in Glasgow or Edinburgh, it would be along the lines of Boxwood Café”

He added that, having traded as a chef-proprietor for more than 10 years, he felt he had got off “quite lightly” with only one failure.

Gordon Ramsay Holdings is trying to find Amaryllis staff alternative jobs.

Ramsay also responded to reports in the national press that the group was consolidating. “I keep hearing cheap tabloid stories that the bubble’s going to burst, but I’ve never felt stronger in my entire life,” he said.

Gordon Ramsay Holdings employs 700 staff and anticipates a turnover of £40m this year.

Citrus Hotels, which owns One Devonshire Gardens, where Amaryllis was located, plans to replace it with another fine-dining operation.

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper, 22 – 28 January 2004

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