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Jamie gets a roasting as Piccadilly restaurant goes belly-up

As celebrity chef’s flagship outlet closes, food critic calls for ‘suppliers’ to be paid – and the taxpayers of Westminster are also in for a few bob

27 March, 2018

Jamie Oliver

IT is hardly a secret that, in general, celebrity chefs are not the best-est of mates with celebrity food writers. So perhaps the sharpened barbs of the splendid Observer food critic Jay Rayner towards one of the nicer characters in the British restaurant scene, Jamie Oliver, shouldn’t be too surprising.

Oliver’s upmarket meat grill restaurant Barbecoa went belly-up in February, another casualty of the economic burn scorching through the catering industry. His flagship Piccadilly outlet, where chunky beef streaks came in at £40, has closed with the loss of 80 jobs. The company that owns Barbecoa, called Barby Ltd, has a host of creditors – some big, some small. In the last set of accounts available, a profit of £246,927 in 2016 had be­come a loss of £473,758 in the following year – which represents a lot of unsold steak.

Rayner publicly called on Oliver to make sure smaller firms, such as the fruit and veg provider Natoora, based in Bermondsey and in for around £34,000, were paid in full. He said on social media:

“This is outrageous. So @jamieoliver are you going to make sure every single one of your suppliers is paid? The fish supplier? The fruit and veg supplier?”

Oliver did not respond but a new company called One New Change, a subsidiary of Oliver’s restaurant group, has bought Barbecoa’s St Paul’s site to stop the damage going further and protect livelihoods.

Meanwhile the taxpayers of Westminster are also in for a few bob. The council is chasing nearly £400,000 in unpaid business rates, with a spokesman telling Diary: “The council was undertaking recovery action when payment of the business rates instalments were not met during this financial year; this recovery action has had to cease at the point of administration.”

A spokesman for Oliver said: “We can confirm that Barby Limited has been placed into administration. One New Change Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, has purchased the assets and lease of Barbecoa St Paul’s and will be trading as normal.”

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