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Riemenschneider leaves restaurants in week of three AA rosettes win

19 January 2015 by
Riemenschneider leaves restaurants in week of three AA rosettes win

Michael Riemenschneider has left his latest two restaurant ventures in the same week that one of them - Canvas by Michael Riemenschneider - won three AA rosettes.

The move has come after a dispute between the chef and his investors and means yet another setback for Riemenschneider in his career as a chef/restaurateur.

It was only six months ago that the news emerged that Riemenschneider had secured the site of what was Le Cercle, in London's Wilbraham Place, as a new home for Canvas by Michael Riemenschneider, which previously occupied a 20-cover site in Marylebone.

At around the same time, he also took on responsibility for running the Black Boys Inn in Hurley, in West Berkshire, as part of a deal with investors that saw the formation of Michael Riemenschneider Dining Limited.

However, abruptly left 15 January - the same day that Canvas was awarded three rosettes from the AA, putting it among the top 10% of restaurants in the country.

Speaking to The Caterer, Riemenschneider, who is currently abroad, claimed he had resigned and said the company had been unable to pay rent on both sites and that staff had also been paid late. He also complained that negotiations with investors that would have seen him take a majority shareholding in the business had stalled after several months of wrangling.

"I was advised by Cheval [landlord of the Wilbraham Place restaurant] of outstanding rent payments and the same with the Black Boys Inn. It's deeply upsetting. I made sure all the staff had been paid before I resigned."

"I thought this time I can focus on what I do best and that is to cook. The reviews prove it was doing well but I seem to pick the wrong [investors]. I blame myself as well because for the last few months I should have pushed harder to get my answers."

However, Nick Wood, a director of Michael Riemenschneider Dining Limited told The Caterer: "Mr Riemenschneider was never a director or an employee of MRD Ltd so he didn't resign because he was never employed in the first place.

"We have the full support of our landlords, which Michael was aware of for a significant time and we look forward to reopening both sites after the Christmas break within the next couple of weeks."

Meanwhile, Mike Sadler of Cheval Property Management, the landlord of the site occupied by Canvas, said: "We have hopes that the restaurant can get back on its feet in some form that serves the local community and our residents above it."

Swiss-born Riemenschneider has worked for several top chefs throughout his career, including Philippe Rochat, Pierre Gagnaire, Alain Ducasse, Michel Bras, Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay.

However he has struggled to establish himself as a successful restaurateur. In 2009, he was forced to close the two restaurants he had opened with business partner Bill Treloar - the Abbey in Cornwall and Juniper in Greater Manchester. He also opened the Highwayman in Rainow near Macclesfield, in 2010, which has since closed, and also briefly took over the Barcaldine House Hotel in Oban in 2011.

But speaking ahead of taking on the Wilbraham Place site and Black Boys Inn, Riemenschneider said he had learned from past mistakes and had hopes that these two latest ventures would be different. "I am 31 now. Yes, I can cook. Did I have the business acumen? Probably not," he said. "I was young, naïve and you make mistakes. But you learn out of these mistakes and what I am doing now is not silly business. It is my livelihood, not anyone else's. I have a family to look after and I am very serious about this. Canvas is a success and we are not closing it, we are expanding it and making it bigger."

Chef profile: Michael Riemenschneider >>

Chef Michael Riemenschneider secures former Le Cercle site for new Canvas >>

Michael Riemenschneider to relocate Canvas as he acquires two restaurants >>

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