Rough Economy Brings Down Restaurant Locals, Celeb Chefs

When it comes to opening a new restaurant, excitement, happiness, and adrenaline are abundant. But what about when it comes time to close? Whether for personal or financial reasons, closing a restaurant can often mean the end of a dream.

Nation’s Restaurant News recently profiled one such restaurant closing. Chris Posner, a restaurateur from New Jersey who’s now shuttered restaurant was featured on Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’, talked to the food service publication about his experience on the show, as well as the subsequent closing of his location, Hannah and Mason’s.

Posner confesses in the interview that even with the show’s focus on declining restaurants, he was hoping it would result in an increase in business. Even after months of slowing sales, Ramsay’s feature of the restaurant failed to infuse even a little bit of  growth.

“With or without the show, I think we would have closed,” Posner said. “I was holding out because I was waiting for the airing. We expected a whole lot more” business to result from the televised event, he noted. “If we got a dozen new faces in the door from the show, it was a lot.”

A combination of factors, including personal and professional obligations, as well as a rapid economical decline – issues that many food service businesses have been facing over the last year – resulted in the closing of Hannah and Mason’s.

“If the economy had been strong, I don’t think the show would have affected us in the least,” he said. “I don’t think it was a direct correlation.”

Surprisingly, Gordon Ramsay himself has been unsuccessful in fighting such difficult economical times, admitting that the rapid growth of his restaurant empire was ultimately responsible for recent financial troubles. Opening ten restaurants in ten months over the last year, Ramsay commented that perhaps he bit off more than he could chew.

“Tenacity and ambition overtook me. We thought we could do anything, that we could not fail. We flew too high, too fast,” Ramsay notes. “It’s been very, very hard,” he said. “At times it felt like a witch hunt. I’ve put my hands over my face and taken the blows.”

Dogged by reports extra-marital affairs, as well as customer dissatisfaction, Ramsay recently sold his Los Angeles location, Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood to the hotel’s management group, LXR Luxury Resorts.

“Gordon Ramsay and his team will concentrate on menu development and service standards throughout all of the hotel’s culinary outlets while the day-to-day food and beverage operation will be handled by the hotel,” said Amy Campbell, a spokeswoman for the hotel in Los Angeles. “The restaurant will continue to operate under the same name — Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood.”

~Jennifer Heigl

6 replies on “Rough Economy Brings Down Restaurant Locals, Celeb Chefs”
  1. says: Harold

    It is indeed a difficult time. I think the customers are shifting away from some types of higher cost restaurants to the more causal restaurants where the plates are not as costly. People still want to eat out, one, it’s a pleasant break, and two, people are finding it hard balance all they must do to make money in this era.

    I do think there are great opportunities and I’ve seen restaurants that have opened during these times and are doing well. But they’re the ones I would place between the fast food franchises and the $20 a plate spots.

  2. says: jenniferhh

    Hi Harold!

    I agree. It’s definitely the more affordable restaurants that are holding up during this downturn. I’ve noticed a number of higher-end restaurants who have undergone a ‘menu redux’ in order to keep customers coming in – and they’re still in business. I think a restaurant’s overall success is really dependent on paying attention to customer needs and the ability to evolve as necessary.

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  4. I have spoken to many Restaurant Owners over the years and it seems that going to fast or growing sooner than maybe you should causes the most troubles for restaurants.

    Over the years I have bought and sold restaurants and my own desires for massive expansion have had to be kept in check for the ultimate success of the whole. Nice article about the reality of how it happens. It even sheds some light on Gordon Ramsey and his own Kitchen Nightmare.

    Thanks for the post – nice writing

    Jonathan Munsell
    Founder & Creator
    Restaurant Success System
    Restaurant Success Monthly

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