Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Restaurants for Sale; Venues That Made Ramsay's Name Are Up for Grabs as Owners Go [Pounds Sterling]6m into Red

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Restaurants for Sale; Venues That Made Ramsay's Name Are Up for Grabs as Owners Go [Pounds Sterling]6m into Red

Article excerpt

Byline: JONATHAN PRYNN;JIM ARMITAGE;SAM LYON

THEY are three of London's finest Michelin-starred restaurants, which helped launch the careers of some of the best-known chefs in Britain. Aubergine, L'Oranger and Zafferano were fixtures on the London scene for most of the past decade and are still among the most admired in the capital.

But now the restaurants that turned Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing and Giorgio Locatelli into stars are up for sale after the parent company hit financial difficulties.

The owner, a private company called A to Z Restaurants, went into administration last week after amassing almost [pounds sterling]6million in debts. The problems have shocked the London restaurant scene - A to Z was regarded as one of its premier operators.

One industry insider said: "It is a small chain operating at the top end of the market. It ought to be doing really well but this is a fashion-led business - you cannot take your eye off the ball or someone else will snatch it away."

The company, which has about 500 staff, has been struggling to make money in recent years, despite the impeccable reputation of its kitchens. A to Z fell [pounds sterling]244,250 into the red in the financial year 2002/2003 and has not been in profit since 2001, according to its accounts. Industry insiders said it was being crippled by the interest on its borrowings, which reached almost [pounds sterling]500,000 last year.

Despite the crisis, the restaurants have continued to win plaudits. Last month Aubergine's front-of-house staff were

named best in the country in Harpers And Queen's restaurant guide. A to Z also runs Memories of China in Kensington and Victoria, Alloro in Mayfair and Spiga in Soho.

The company was set up by Italian-born financier Giuliano Lotto in 1992 when he recruited a then-unknown Gordon Ramsay as head chef at newly opened Aubergine in Chelsea.

It was followed by Knightsbridge's Zafferano in 1995, where Giorgio Locatelli was recruited to run the kitchen. L'Oranger in St James's followed a year later when Gordon Ramsay joined forces with his number two at Aubergine, Marcus Wareing.

A to Z split with Ramsay in 1998 when the company sacked Wareing and the entire staff of L'Oranger and Aubergine walked out. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.