Jamie Oliver's restaurants hit the buffers

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Richard Zambuni, May 21, 2019.

  1. It is ultra tough business.

    Kudos to all those who manage to stay for long.
  2. Spare a thought for those losing their jobs, I read up to or even more than a thousand people.
  3. Agree, Alex. I'm not a fan of the man himself, and I've never been in one of his restaurants, but 1,000 jobs likely to go, a real blow for folks who on the whole get paid peanuts and work like dogs.
  4. Sad news for the jobs, but they are all generally chain restaurants serving pre-packaged slop so not sad to see them go. People talk as though the death of these restaurants is a bad thing in the press, but perhaps it is a sign that people are not prepared to pay money for mass produced chain-food.
  5. Or there's so much competition in that sector of restaurants that there's bound to be casualties, and having the popular cheeky chappy Essex boy from the telly in his Mk 1 Ford Capri doesn't give you immunity.
  6. Out of interest, has anyone eaten at one his "Jamie's Italian" places? They are / were truly awful.
  7. Once at Jamie's Italian in the City - at a work do. Once was enough. Truly poor.
  8. Out of interest, why?

    I've also found his efforts admirable in terms of improving child nutrition in schools, and his ability to engage the average non-cooking person on television surely inspired many people to realise how accessible home cooked meals are.
  9. Don't want to make a big thing of it but I have a number of issues regarding the type of person he portrays (his man of the people persona with the cheeky cockney ordinary person element which doesn't really fit with his actual background), and perhaps as has been widely commented on elsewhere, how he did very admirable things regarding school nutrition but then went and almost worked against himself in his commercial and advertising deals. He has also done quite admirable things for people out of work with few prospects of employment, but issues have also been raised in the media around that as well. I'm just an old git who gets annoyed by potential hypocrisy and I just don't warm to him. But I'm sure many don't warm to me, and he's richer.
  10. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Richard, if one has eaten in Jamie's Italian it is easy to be dismissive - possibly even to feel a little sense of schadenfreude - at the collapse, given the quality was shocking latterly. Yet I do remember my first visit, probably a year after the they launched, to the branch in Westfield where I was seriously excited by the concept and really quite pleased with the experience. It was a good concept and originally fairly well executed, but how quickly it seemed to go downhill. I think I ate in 2 more 'Jamie's' while away on business, in Dockland and in Bristol, then tried the Glasgow branch, and gave up: getting worse and worse each time, all the good things - the authenticity - seemed to have been drained from the business. It was truly poor by the time of my last visit maybe 5 years ago.
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    Richard Zambuni likes this.
  11. What do Carluccio's do right that Jamie's Italian have failed to do? I always assumed they both were competing for the same type of customer.
  12. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Andrew, I don't think Carluccio's is doing that well either according to various reports. I have only eaten there once, many years ago, so wouldn't know about offering/quality/pricing or whatever does make it different.
  13. As I recall it, Carluccio's have already closed a number of outlets in their own restructuring a few months ago.
  14. I hear what you are saying, David, but it is better for people to try and make a difference than not to bother. His restaurant ventures, which even I could have told him were ill advised, have cost him a large chunk of the personal fortune he has made from his media activities, but I genuinely think he felt a duty to provide what employment he could. His TV programmes and books are not aimed at me but I have been consistently impressed by his success as an export, Jamie's Italy even being a big seller in its Italian translation, which must be almost a first! I think he's on the side of the angels.
  15. I know what they do right in Ealing. The food is **** but the staff simply could not be more helpful and accommodating, and for a lot of local stuff, particularly involving families with young children, the food doesn't really need to be good.
  16. They were operating in an ultra competitive and shrinking market and given their relatively small size they must have lacked the economies of scale that chains need to survive. Many of these chains are much of a muchness really and in some respects being relatively indistinguishable from one another is both blessing and curse.

    I also think chains have lost one of their key competitive edges of late, that being their appeal to families as a relatively safe place to eat with children which can be a challenge. Thankfully many independents have seriously upped their game in this regard and now seem much more geared up for this which was not the case a few years ago.
  17. Of course although I’m a miserable old git I can say that sometimes I can get things wrong. I stand by my lack of enthusiasm for Jamie but I think two things are pertinent.

    First, I understand he put £13 million if his own money into the business last year. That is admirable.

    Second, I understand his rents have doubled across the business (no idea re his business rates). I know of similar issues for small business owners I know. Such rises are both crippling and unbearable. I personally think that the ability of landlords to raise rents like this is not a good thing, and that’s about a million times less strident that I’d like to be here.
  18. I wonder to what extent the casual/smart casual restaurant market is being hit now by the likes of Deliveroo and JustEat with people staying at home and if inclined drinking their own booze far more cheaply with their meal.
  19. A guy with much enthusiasm, who had skill having worked briefly in a good kitchen, who was captured by a TV producer who managed to big him up beyond belief. A new concept on TV loved by millions of unsophisticated food lovers willing to buy his books in massive numbers many of which were unwrapped at Christmas and never read. Indeed these books covered 32 versions of bacon tomatoes and pasta.

    That said he is passionate about food and wanted everyone to eat well, raising the bar for everyone from the bottom up.
    Good chefs rarely make good businessmen. QED by him following his restaurants over a cliff.

    Very sorry for the staff, customers who have eaten at his restaurants, but on the same day as British steel is struggling
    This is real life.

    He started out as a geezer who would cook good fun food on a Sunday for his mates. If I was a mate of his , I would still love the invitation .
  20. Very sad for all involved although many staff will have learned valuable skills that will serve them well in the future thanks to JO’s initiative to put this venture through its paces.
  21. Significantly I would have thought, Alan.
  22. On a recent visit to Honest Burger there were no other customers but about thirty collections by motorcyclists.
    Last edited: May 21, 2019
  23. I thought Barbecoa was a great idea and slightly ahead of the zeitgeist when it opened, but the execution was poor. This made me wonder at the time if the basic problem was that Jamie Oliver just wasn't very good at restaurants.

    The trajectory of Jamie's Italian (last visited on a disastrous work do about 5 years ago, which may or may not have been directly linked to an entire team resigning pretty much the next day and legging it back home to Australia) seemed to be more about the simple exigencies of corporate finance, which I first noticed in the noughties with the ill-starred Clapham House group. It acquired several decent brands, such as Bombay Bicycle Club, GBK and the Real Greek, trashed them all within a couple of short years and ended up being taken private by Nando's for a pittance.
  24. I have my own quite salubrious stories about him, none of which I'd air on a public forum, but I think my takeaway is that it doesn't really matter if his public persona is invented. I expect many celebrities have an element of this, and his "cheeky cockney lad" is an engaging marketing tool that strikes me as relatively harmless when we look at what he spent time doing with that fame. Like all well performing "movements", it relies on society being able to relate to what is being communicated. I appreciate you're pointing to some less ethical aspects of his business but I struggle to lump him into a box without knowing more.

    The one "issue" is his lack of persistence - converting his message into a lasting one that permanently changes lives is difficult - society will always take the path of least resistance and I guess the dwindling attraction to his restaurants is just another embodiment of that. The same can be said of many similar quasi tv-chef personalities.

    As you say, not something to make a big thing out of, but I just imagine the task of maintaining relevance is the real challenge that few have cracked, and I bet there's where the more difficult "business decisions" arise.
    Mark Carrington and Thom Blach like this.

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