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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gordon Ramsay Finds Himself in the Soup

Does Gordon Ramsay have his fingers in too many pies? As the recession lingers, the super chef has discovered that running a far-flung network of pricey eateries is no piece of cake.

Attendance is down at Ramsay's 20 restaurants across Europe, North America, and Japan, causing him to breach the terms of a $15.7 million bank loan. The celebrity chef is being forced to restructure his global empire, shuttering his Prague location and reducing his 1,200 person staff by 15%.

He is closing some of his restaurants at slower times of the week and is using less expensive cuts of meat, according to an article in the Wall St. Journal. Costly out-of-season ingredients no longer have a place on his menus.

Reasons for the decline are several. Corporate expense accounts have been slashed, and diners are ordering fewer high priced bottles of wine, where the fattest profits are.

Another reason for the drop in patronage may have nothing to do with the souring economy. With so many restaurants, Ramsay isn't cooking in any of them very often. Diners who pay several hundred dollars per head may be reluctant to do so when the star chef is not in the kitchen.

It's a good bet that the tough Scot can withstand the heat. Yes, he sold his silver 430 Scuderia Ferrari. But he still earns an estimated $16 million per year for his TV shows ("Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares"), as well as from publishing and endorsements.

That's a lot of bread, even in a stale economy.

You'll find the full text of the Journal article here.

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