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Ramsay’s Maze Cape Town Closes, Adding to Chef’s Woes

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay poses in his restaurant, ''Gordon Ramsay au Trianon'' in Versailles, France. Photographer: Alastair Miller/Bloomberg

Maze Cape Town, the African outpost of chef Gordon Ramsay’s dining empire, has closed after about 15 months in business at the One & Only Hotel.

“We can confirm that Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd.’s engagement as a consultant to One & Only Cape Town has terminated,” the hotel said today in a statement. “The restaurant at One & Only Cape Town no longer trades under the Maze brand.” It gave no reason for the decision.

The chef’s company, run by his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, switched to operating restaurants around the world on a consultancy basis after losses almost pushed the company into bankruptcy in 2008 following rapid international expansion.

“GRH Ltd. is purely a consultant to Maze, One & Only, Cape Town,” Gordon Ramsay Holdings said today in an e-mailed statement. “We were aware that the hotel has been having some difficulties but they only informed us of their decision to close Maze this morning. We will be reviewing our contractual agreement with them.”

The woes of Ramsay’s restaurant business have attracted increasing attention as his TV career has soared. He has a new U.S. show, “Masterchef,” following the success of “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares.” Ramsay has said he had to battle to save his dining business from bankruptcy in 2008.

‘Too Many Risks’

“We weren’t unlucky, we were clumsy,” Hutcheson told Bloomberg News in December 2009. “We’d put too many risks in front of us with too much confidence that nothing would fail.”

Jason Atherton, who created Maze, quit Gordon Ramsay Holdings in April. He was followed by his London successor, James Durrant, whose resignation was announced on July 1. A week later, Maze Cape Town’s Phil Carmichael said he was going too.

Maze Prague has already closed, which means the chain has shrunk to four outlets: London, New York, Doha and Melbourne.

“The Maze restaurants in the U.K. and around the world are performing extremely well, with the recent opening of Melbourne exceeding all expectations,” the company said today.

The hotel’s restaurant remains open -- as yet without a new name -- and employees won’t be affected by the fact it is no longer an outlet of Maze, the One & Only said.

The closure was earlier reported on the blog site Spill without attribution.

“Maze is perfectly suited for South Africa,” Ramsay, 43, said on his Web site after the opening on April 4, 2009. “I fully expect this will quickly become another of our successful and sought-after restaurants.”

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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