Rick Stein: I nearly lost my business due to the pandemic

Lizzie Edmonds
·2-min read
<p>Rick Stein has opened up about his financial struggles during the pandemic </p> (Getty)

Rick Stein has opened up about his financial struggles during the pandemic

(Getty)

Television chef Rick Stein has said he “nearly lost his whole business” because of the pandemic.

The chef, who is best known for his restaurant empire in Cornwall and his riverside eatery in Barnes, south west London, told The Times he was on the verge of bankruptcy last year.

Stein, 74, has nine restaurants, a majority of which are in and around Padstow, Cornwall. He employed 600 people at the start of the pandemic.

In the past 12 months, he said his business survived thanks to the Government’s furlough scheme and his side business - Stein’s At Home.

The latter is a range of delivery boxes costing between £45 and £100 that are filled with ingredients and instructions so people can cook some of his famous dishes at home.

Stein was in Australia when the pandemic hit. The chef splits his time between the UK and Australia, where is second wife Sarah is originally from.

He said he was taking part in frantic Zoom calls from Australia trying to save his businesses.

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The chef, whose sons Jack and Charlie work for his food empire, 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.”

Stein said he was excited for the lockdown to start lifting - adding he has some 30,000 bookings for his restaurants over the busy summer period.

Last month, he told The Telegraph his hotel rooms were also selling well.

“Only a couple of rooms are still available in our hotels until the end of August, which is unheard of this time of year," Stein said.

“It would have broken my heart to lose it all,” he said. “So yes, I am very grateful to be coming through it.”

The hospitality sector, along with high street retail, have been among the worst hit industries the past 12 months.

The sector endured the worst of the pandemic jobs hit. Trade body UKHospitality told the Evening Standard that it estimates 600,000 jobs were lost in the sector in 2020.

Chains across the hospitality and leisure sectors, including Pret, Pizza Express, Cineworld and Premier Inn owner Whitbread all slashed jobs.

From Monday, outdoor hospitality will be among the areas reopening in England.

Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to six people or two households. Indoor mixing is banned until May 17.

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