‘What the hell is going on?’ Gino D’Acampo opens up on big problem

Celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo is the latest high profile figure to call on the Government to ‘act now’ to support the hospitality industry, which he says is ‘falling down like a pack of cards’. He says rising costs are crippling independent cafes and restaurants – while playing into the hands of fast food giants.

He has called on the Government to act now – and to realise just how vital hospitality is to the country. He is backing industry calls for a reduction to VAT and says ‘something drastic’ needs to happen.

Gino was speaking as he launched his latest Italian restaurant in Manchester city centre, at the Innside by Melia Hotel on First Street. He said he feels lucky that his current business model is inside hotels, which acts as a ‘mama’ to his own business and that he has a loyal following at his own restaurants.

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But he has made a rallying call in support of the industry as a whole. He adds if he was starting out now as an independent restaurant on the high street, he’s simply not sure he would take that chance due to the economic headwinds.

He says he has spoken to scores of fellow chefs – including high profile TV figures – who are ‘having a c****y time’ trying to make the numbers work and to survive.

Speaking to the M.E.N, Gino said: “The Government really have to do something about it – nobody understands the importance of hospitality. Hospitality is everything, for any country.

“When tourists come in, who is going to greet them? We are – the hospitality people. When someone has something to celebrate, who is going to help them do that? We are – the hospitality people.

“I understand there are other important things, the NHS, other businesses, I get it, and I sympathise with everybody, but the hospitality one is going down fast. I can see people going down ‘bam bam bam’ and it’s like what the hell is going on?

Gino D'Acampo Manchester has opened its doors in Manchester
Gino D’Acampo Manchester has opened its doors in Manchester
(Image: Supplied)

“The biggest problem is that now, we are allowing the big companies and fast food to flourish, but why? Because they serve food where inflation is not as big as ours, and they are winning.

“But as they are winning we are losing – because our children, our families and our grandchildren, they tend to go and eat in those places instead of places where the food is all made fresh. So they are winning, we are losing as humans, it’s bad.

“I want to say to the Government they’re going to have to wake up and do something very quickly, because it’s falling down like a pack of cards. When I go to my local high street, four places are down… You go to another high street there are more restaurants closing than opening. A VAT cut could have been a very big help but they need to do something drastic now.”

He made it in time for the show
Gino on This Morning

He added: “The problem that we have is that everything is becoming too expensive, especially since Brexit. And people may say why don’t you put the prices up? Ok, well you can do that to a set point, but the problem the restaurant owner is having with money is the same problem guests are having at home with money. So how much can I really charge for a pizza? For a plate of pasta? It’s really becoming a big problem.”

Gino has thanked his own loyal customers for keeping demand high for his restaurants, and he has also outlined plans for expansion of his brand at more hotels globally in 2024. But he says he has seen just how hard it is for others trying to start out in the restaurant world now.

“I’m lucky that I have my loyal followers, my guests who have been using my restaurants for years and that my restaurants are always busy,” he adds. “But I really feel for someone who just wants to open a restaurant now. When they come to me now and say ‘I want to open a restaurant what do you think?’ my answer is always the same: If you have a huge amount of money to throw away, this is the best business to do it.

“If you want to throw away your money and not worried about your money, then it’s the best to do it. But if you want to save your money with your hard work and want to invest in the hospitality? Then no, no.”

Gino’s own restaurants have been through a period of flux in recent years, and he says his business model at present is to continue opening venues inside hotels. He has his own-named restaurants in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle as well as his upmarket brand Luciano in London.

Gino with his team in Manchester
(Image: Single use permitted when used only in direct relation witht the launch of Gino D’Acampo Manchester.)

He says: “People don’t understand restaurants are also a lot of mathematics as well, it’s not just making great food, or that would be easy. It’s about making the right amount at the end of the month.

“We are lucky that we have investors putting money in, and we are in hotels like Melia. Let’s be honest, right now I open restaurants in hotels, that’s the formula that we have that means that we get a mama, the hotel, who is going to embrace you and says ‘don’t worry about it, come here’.

“And that’s why I do what I do. If I did not have the mama, the hotel, and I was out on the high street now, would it be as easy as it is for me today? No, no. I talk to other friends of mine who have restaurants like me, who are in television, and they are also having a c****y time.

“I’m very lucky that we have these great relationships with the hotels, they embrace us as family and we open more and more. But if I was to do this now, on the high street, and invest all the money, the way things are? I don’t know if I would do it, honestly.”

He adds: “I keep going because I don’t like failing, my thing is I can’t fail, so there’s a huge amount of work I have to do. I’m lucky that I have a huge amount of followers who want to come to my restaurant.”

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