Jamie Oliver says casual dining restaurants primed for comeback

Casual dining is set for a comeback, according to Jamie Oliver, whose restaurant chain was one of many forced to close sites last year.

Speaking to the Press Association, the TV chef said there would “always be room for all sectors” in the eating-out industry, but casual dining had been hit hard by recent challenges.

“I think mid-market particularly was just in a perfect storm of rents, rates, over-saturation, and we’d just come out of a recession and went into Brexit-ville,” he said.

Jamie’s Italian
Jamie’s Italian

Mr Oliver’s chain Jamie’s Italian closed 12 sites last year, amid tough competition and rising costs.

He later revealed that the business had been hours away from bankruptcy, having “simply run out of cash” before he put £13 million of his own money in to keep it afloat.

Similar difficulties plagued other mid-market restaurants, with Gaucho, Prezzo, Byron and Carluccio’s all closing sites last year.

However Mr Oliver said consumers would continue to use their “pleasure spend” on dining out.

“So I think we will come back and it will come back strong and it will be relevant,” he said.

“For myself and most of the others it’s just sticking it out and listening. I think lots of lessons have been learned but I still believe in the sector.”