Recession & expansion

Over the past couple of months we’ve seen the green shoots of recovery in the hospitality industry, with rumours and acquisitions starting to gather pace and yet closures for others. Some of biggest names in catering have had to close outposts to keep the ship afloat, Charlie Trotter, Gordon Ramsey, Raymond Blanc, Anthony Worral Thompson, Tom Aikens & Paul Rankin to name a few. Yet others are looking at expansion, is it because of the lack of celebrity?

Rumours have been circulating for months that the team from the ‘Crown at Whitebrook‘ have been looking for an addition to the collection. There is the mothership at Whitebrook and there is the Celtic Manor outpost but the rumours have persisted that they are looking for more. The name that has most recently been linked with the Michelin starred team is Holm House in Penarth. Having lost their Head chef (former Snr Sous from the Waterside at Bray) recently, they appear to be in limbo and the speculation was only fueled by a former member of staff saying

…they are only 2 weeks from administration…

Surely this would make it ripe for the picking, there is no doubting that Holm House is a stunning property which has been restored to a very high standard and is in a great location, yet why is it struggling?

Next up is the eagerly awaited expansion from former Michelin starred chef Aiden Byrne. Having successfully revived a pub in leafy Cheshire, there were rumours abound in July ’07 that The White House in Prestbury was his desired target. Even outlining his plans for a £500,000 refurbishment & how he would divide his time between the 2 properties. Then it all went quiet. In a piece in early Dec ’09, Mr Byrne hinted that the White House project wouldn’t be moving forward, stating:

I looked at opening a restaurant quite recently in Prestbury, called The White House, and was asked to do a fly-on-the-wall documentary but, unfortunately, in these times, the TV company decided to sit tight.

He was even asked the question by Amanda Afiya on Twitter:

Have you opened 2nd place yet?

Only to reply:

decided against second place for now. Too expensive.

So where does this leave the industry? Experts would have you believe that the hospitality industry is in far worst shape than you would think, but it’s a fickle monster. A good summer, a world cup and hey presto it’ll be recession, what recession? But if you’re going to expand now is the time to buy as prices will only be going up.

As a post script to this post, there was a minor tiff on Twitter between Chef Hermes & Mr Byrne. In the balance of fairness (as Mr Byrne seems to feel that we were out of line), we would like to point out that Aiden & his team will be opening another restaurant on the Wirral. Obviously we didn’t mean to upset Mr Byrne or anybody connected with him, but as talentless hacks clearly we haven’t written a post to his taste. We only wanted to show how the recession was effecting various names within the industry.

Love you lots Mr Byrne x

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