Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant franchise Jamie’s Italian will close its locations in Hong Kong today, while its restaurant in Taipei was shuttered yesterday.
After facing significant setbacks to the business following its collapse in the UK last May, the local franchisee Big Cat Group ultimately faced its greatest setback during Hong Kong’s anti-government protests last year – with sales dipping 20–35 per cent year on year. The ensuing coronavirus outbreak proved to be the chain’s final stand.
“I’m deeply saddened that our restaurants in Hong Kong have had to cease trading,” Big Cat’s head William Lyon told the South China Morning Post. “Our absolute priority was to ensure that all affected staff were paid in full. We do not forecast a marked improvement over the next few months and have therefore made the difficult decision to close all three restaurants with immediate effect.
“Despite the support from our Causeway Bay landlord, our other landlords have not been supportive enough during this period. We’d like to thank our fantastic staff and the thousands of customers we’ve had the pleasure of serving over the past few years.”
Jamie’s Italian has not exited Asia, however. It operates two restaurants in Singapore and another in Bangkok under different licensees.