Life’s not all lovely jubbly for Jamie Oliver, with the UK super-chef’s Australian restaurant business collapsing on Monday. The company behind Oliver’s string of Jamie’s Italian eateries – Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group Australia – has gone into voluntary administration as Oliver faces mounting debt in the UK.
The good news for fans of Jamie’s pastas and planks of antipasti in Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Parramatta is that these five eateries have been sold to Brisbane-based hospitality group Hallmark, best known for Irish bar Finn McCools – and it appears it will be business as usual.
In a release issued on Monday night, a spokesperson for the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group Australia said:
“Australia has and continues to be one of our best performing international markets and, after a short period of in-house management we are pleased to be partnering with Hallmark.
“The team brings a huge amount of experience and passion for our brand, from collaborating with the key suppliers to our food philosophy, and we look forward to working with them as they develop the Jamie’s Italian restaurant offering across Australia.”
For the Canberra outpost of Jamie’s Italian, the rescue deal came too late, with its immediate closure on Monday confirmed by a note on the door which read:
It is with great sadness that Jamie’s Italian Canberra has had to close its doors indefinitely.
We thank you for all of your support over the last 4.5 years.
From all of the staff at Jamie’s Canberra we bid you a fond farewell.
Big Love Mr O xxx
It’s the latest in a string of financial woes for The Naked Chef, whose global businesses are reported to be in up to £71.5 million ($126 million) worth of debt, according to Fairfax.
In the UK, Oliver’s eponymous restaurants have dwindled from 42 locations to 25, citing soaring rents and a “growing disconnect between Jamie and his TV persona, books, campaigning and with his restaurants”, according to a statement from Jon Knight, chief executive of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, in The Times.
If you’d like to recreate Mr Oliver’s Italian fare at home, try this easy-peasy recipe for Jamie’s flash steak.
Melbourne-based food and wine writer Sarah Gamboni has had to pull back on a few of her favourite things – chilli, gin and espresso – since bringing her daughter, Frankie, into the world. But she has discovered one post-natal perk: those stretchy-waist maternity jeans are heaven when heading out for a big meal. Follow her on Instagram @eatmywords_au