Following on the sale earlier this year of Gordon Ramsay group restaurant in Prague, Paris (Versailles) and Los Angeles, Gordon Ramsay sold his flagship restaurant in New York on 22 November.
No public announcement appears to have been made, but the sale is confirmed by a letter published on Eater.com yesterday.
As has been the case in all the foreign divestments (except Prague), the restaurant will continue to trade under the Ramsay banner, and will continue to bear the two stars which celebrity-struck Michelin awarded it.
The Michelin award – as so often to ‘celebrity’ restaurants – has always been highly dubious. At the top end of the market, there tends – contrary to the popular impression – to be a remarkably precise general correlation between the views of survey driven guides such as Harden’s or its New York equivalent Zagat and inspector-driven guides such as Michelin.
Where the correlation tends to break down is in the case of ‘celebrity’ restaurants, the virtue of which is often much more apparent to Michelin than it is to regular restaurant-goers. ‘Gordon Ramsay at the London’ is a classic example. Although Michelin rushed to give it a prestigious two-star rating, it has not generally even made it into the top 50 for food in the Big Apple, according to the Zagat survey.
PS (8 December) By a curious coincidence, Mr Ramsay appeared on the Jonathan Ross show on 4 December. Fascinating to see how his group’s egregious known errors – such as failing to understand the importance of unionisation in New York – are already being airbrushed out of history.
New history recounts no specific errors on the part of the group, which was, it seems, just a victim of macroeconomic circumstances. These included a recession which ‘no one saw coming’ (really?) and the devaluation of the pound against the Euro. It’s difficult to see how the latter could really be such a big deal when Euro-denominated business is a small part of the group’s total.
New history also seems to suggest that the sale of all the foreign operations involved changing back to the franchise model (which is the one now operating in all the extant foreign operations).
So far as we know, none of these operations had in fact at any prior point been conceived or run on the franchise model, so it’s difficult to see how the suggestion that the mode of operation was being turned ‘back’ can have been anything other than a slip of the tongue.
PS (10 December) A major article in Bloomberg magazine gives a much franker account of the foreign difficulties than Ramsay gave Mr Ross. It also quotes Chris Hutcheson as saying restaurants may henceforth become “even less of a priority for Ramsay”. “TV is his forte. That's what he likes doing.”