The Kennedy Great Makeover
Can this celeb chef rebuild his empire?
In an attempt to weather the recession, beloved Toronto restaurateur Jamie Kennedy is taking dramatic steps to save his company, transforming his Gardiner restaurant from fine dining to light lunch, considering the sale of his eponymous wine bar and even going before the press about his debilitating debt. We ask: what else can Kennedy do to climb back to the top?
Aaron Barberian - Barberian’s Steak House
I would say, keep it simple, get back to your core business, focus on your main location and do the very best you can. He is an incredibly creative individual, and I think he’s just got to be there. When it’s the Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar people want to see Jamie Kennedy. I think he’s got the skills to develop menus and cost his menus properly, so he just has to continue to focus on what people like and get back to the basics that make him a great, innovative Canadian chef. I know he will be okay. What we do is an art — it’s very expensive, costs are skyrocketing, and we really depend on the public to make it work. We need Torontonians to dine out and support us.
Chef Stephen Ricci - The Windsor Arms Hotel
It is a recession. His restaurants are successful. I think that if he can hold the course and weather it, then they can and will be just as successful as they were before. His places are too great and he’s too talented for him not to stick it out. I love that he brings very simple flavours to the table and I think for his restaurants to succeed they should stay the course he started on, by not changing, and I think business will return to him. Should he downscale some? Maybe. Maybe lose one here or there, but I love going to his Wine Bar and I will continue going to his Wine Bar.
Chef Didier Leroy - Didier Restaurant
Jamie has a lot of talent. He is a good chef. That is what he is. He works in the kitchen. The success of the restaurant is about the people, the customers. It is not about what Jamie did. I never think we should devalue ourselves if we own something and we lose it. It is not about us. It’s because of the people. It could happen to me tomorrow, too. I’m not special. Also, unfortunately, everybody has their own business, and we don’t work together. There is not a community in restaurants. We don’t help each other. Could we do better? We could try. But you can have a pilot, you know, but if others don’t agree to put air in the tires, to put gas in, you can’t fly the plane, right? Not everybody wants to play the game. Jamie did nothing wrong. If it happened to me, I would go out with my head up.
Roberto Martella - Grano Restaurant
Jamie has forgotten more about food than I’ve ever known, so he should stay the course and that knowledge and obvious talent will serve him and the city of Toronto well. Jamie has always been at the avant-garde of sourcing and cooking local, and I think soon the rest of the world will catch up with him.
Vito Marinuzzi - 7 Numbers Restaurant
He’s got a lot of things going on he might want to streamline, to focus on the more prosperous vehicles. He might want to expand at a slower rate. It seems like he expanded quickly, and unfortunately it was during a downturn which has played a large part in his demise. I don’t think any of us could have seen that coming. But he’s a smart operator and I think his concept is definitely with the times — he’s doing the local food, his food costs are in check, his prices are good. I think by streamlining he’s on the right track. He’s a household name in Toronto and as long as he builds on that he should be OK.