Rick Stein’s restaurant business was hanging in the balance (Picture: Rex Features)
Rick Stein has revealed the coronavirus pandemic almost cost him his whole restaurant business as lockdown left it on the verge of bankruptcy.
The TV chef, 74, splits his time between Australia where he lives with second wife Sarah, and Cornwall, but was left having to deal with issues over Zoom calls from the other side of the world when lockdown set in.
The hospitality sector was one of the hardest hit, with restaurants and bars forced to close for months on end, and the future of Rick’s restaurant empire which employed 600 staff at the time was left hanging in the balance.
He told The Times: ‘It was very scary and we nearly lost the whole business.
‘And it’s certainly not just my work we’re talking about – Jill [Rick’s ex-wife and business partner] and the children have put so much into it too. Not being there was horrible.’
The majority of the business managed to weather the storm thanks to furlough and the success of the family’s Stein’s At Home seafood meal boxes, but Rick lost his signature restaurants in Porthleven and Falmouth.
Rick’s restaurants have seen 30,000 bookings for this summer already (Picture: BBC/Shine TV)
He had been criticised at the start of lockdown when he shut up his restaurants and told staff that the restaurant empire was on the brink, with his managing director Ian Fitzgerald warning the 600 staff that there would likely be job losses and closures of some of their locations.
The chef and TV presenter had opened The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, his flagship, in 1975 and also has restaurants in Sandbanks, Winchester and Barnes.
Rick and his family are now looking forward to lockdown restrictions being eased and being able to welcome diners once more when it is safe to do so, with the business reporting over 30,000 bookings already for the summer ahead.
He added: ‘It would have broken my heart to lose it all. So yes, I am very grateful to be coming through it.’
Rick and his son Charlie, 35, are now opening up a coffee shop in Padstow as a way of expanding the business to survive the changes the pandemic has brought about.
Credit: Original article published here.