From Cassell Bryan-Low, The Wall Street Journal
: On the reality TV show "Kitchen Nightmares," foul-mouthed celebrity
chef Gordon Ramsay helps unknown chefs turn around troubled
restaurants. But the brash advice he dishes out to others hasn't helped
keep his own fine-dining empire out of trouble.
well-heeled diners went into hibernation, four of Mr. Ramsay's
high-profile restaurants -- in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Prague
-- "were starting to hemorrhage" cash last year, Mr. Ramsay said. He
breached terms on £10.5 million, or $15.7 million, in loans that were
partially backed by his personal fortune. An auditor recommended his
company, Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd., file for bankruptcy. Mr. Ramsay
sold his Ferrari and considered unloading his multimillion-dollar
"All of a sudden, this whole thing was nothing to do with cooking,"
Mr. Ramsay said in an interview from the Los Angeles set of his show.
"I had my own personal nightmare."
Mr. Ramsay is being forced to restructure. The 42-year-old chef has
exited Prague and handed back ownership of the kitchens in Los Angeles
and Paris to the hotels they are housed in, though he still supplies
the chefs and menus. He has fired about 15% of his roughly 1,200-person
staff and is swapping out rib-eyes for cheaper cuts like shank and
brisket. Mr. Ramsay and his father-in-law have plowed £5 million of
their own money into the business.
The tousled-haired Mr. Ramsay runs one of the biggest global
networks of expensive restaurants, with 20 outposts from New York to
Tokyo. During the boom of the past decade, Mr. Ramsay amassed 12
Michelin stars, making him the third-most-decorated chef behind
France's Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse. His success helped Britain
put to rest its reputation as a culinary backwater and win a reputation
as a serious destination for foodies.
super-chef's current troubles illustrate the intense pressure facing
high-end restaurateurs these days. Diners are eating out less often and
spending less when they do, particularly on wine and spirits, where the
fattest profit margins are. Corporate entertaining, which can account
for as much as a third of a luxury restaurant's business, has fallen
Annual revenue growth in the roughly $1.5 trillion global restaurant
industry is expected to slow to 1.1% this year, down from 4.9% in 2008,
according to London-based research firm Datamonitor Ltd. The figures
include restaurants, cafes and fast-food chains, but industry insiders
say the priciest restaurants are among the hardest hit.
FULL STORY From Wall Street Journal