Antony Worrall Thompson is considering buying back the Henley-on-Thames pub he put into administration last month and said that further expansion was also on the cards.
The TV chef said he wanted to rebuild his restaurant chain following his company AWT Restaurants’ high profile fall into administration last month, which saw the closure of his four Grill restaurants as well as The Lamb Freehouse and Kitchen in Henley-on-Thames. His other pub, The Greyhound, had been sold the previous week.
Worrall Thompson immediately bought back two Grill restaurants, in Kew in south-west London and in Windsor, as well as his deli The Windsor Larder, but said he also intended to re-establish himself in his home town of Henley-on-Thames.
“I am looking to get another place in Henley, because that’s where I’m from and where my name is well known,” he told Restaurant magazine. “I am thinking about buying the Henley restaurant back from administration and serving bistro-style food but my pockets are only so big.”
He added that minor changes would be made to the menus of his Kew and Windsor Grills to ensure they remained profitable during the recession, with the introduction of more “comfort” food such as stews at a cheaper price of £11.50-£12.50.
The celebrity chef is one of the first high-profile chefs to become a casualty of the recession and has vented his fury at the banks after claiming they would not extend his loan without personal guarantees.
Last month his bank Lloyds TSB rejected these allegations but Worrall Thompson said he had a
“paper trail to prove it”.
He said that six out of his seven restaurants made money in November and December but that
the company had been hit by a fall in cash flow in September last year. The company failed to reach a loan agreement with the bank despite proposals to cut £125,000 worth of costs from the business and sell two restaurants. “We were a wobbly business but not stretched,” he said.
Worrall Thompson said plans for future expansion would be more measured. “I have not quite made my mind up about how we will expand. In the last recession I opened Bistro 190 and it was packed but it was hard to find chefs who could use cheaper cuts of meat. I need to look for an angle that is cost effective and tasty.”
The chef also said he intended to continue to pursue his TV career despite the setback. “While ITV want me, I will do TV because I enjoy it, but I will be in my restaurants a lot more as well.”
Antony Worrall Thompson`s restuarant company goes into administration
Antony Worrall Thompson closes The Greyhound