Rick Stein ‘nearly lost whole business’ amidst coronavirus lockdown ‘Very scary’

Saturday Kitchen: Rick Stein shows how to make a chopped salad

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Television presenter and chef, Rick Stein, 74, has revealed that he feared losing his business when the world entered lockdown in 2020. Rick turned to using the government’s furlough scheme to pay his 600 members of staff.

We nearly lost the whole business.

Rick Stein

The Oxfordshire born star who is behind some of the biggest names in England’s hospital industry faced an uncertain future when the government announced their “stay at home” message last year.

Stein, who manages his empire from Padstow, Cornwall, admitted that he was on the brink of bankruptcy due to the instant loss in customers.

While under lockdown in Australia, he found himself making continual video calls via Zoom as his business empire hung in the balance.

In light of the lockdown period, Rick sadly lost two restaurants in Cornwall but turned things around with the help of the Furlough scheme that Boris Johnson’s government introduced as well as his Stein’s At Home delivery boxes.

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Speaking about the painstaking ordeal, Rick said: “It was very scary and we nearly lost the whole business.”

The dad-of-three had initially come under fire at the start of the first lockdown period when he closed the doors while his business director warned staff they faced losing their jobs.

He went on to tell The Times: “And it’s certainly not just my work we’re talking about – Jill [his first wife and business partner] and the children have put so much into it too, not being there was horrible.”

After receiving help from the furlough scheme and the success of his food boxes which sees ingredients and recipes to cook three-course meals sent to the home of a customer, Rick has managed to turn his fear into a success once again.

Prices for his Stein’s At Home boxes range from £45 to £100, enabling customers to cook their favourite dishes without leaving their homes.

Last year, Rick’s managing director Ian Fitzgerald issued a chilling message to employees, saying: “Sadly, with less customers expected in the future, it is likely that we will need to employ fewer people.

‘Ongoing discussions with the bank and our landlords have not yielded sufficient progress and therefore we are having to sadly look at the viability of a small number of operational sites which includes consulting with Porthleven, Falmouth and Marlborough.”

Following Boris Johnson’s recent announcement that restaurants across the country will be able to welcome diners from Monday, who have to eat outdoors, Rick has been rocked with 30,000 bookings for the upcoming summer period.

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“It would have broken my heart to lose it all, so yes, I am very grateful to be coming through it,” he told the publication.

As well as seeing his restaurant business boom again, Rick has taken to YouTube to offer advice to diners on how to prepare dishes such as lobsters and mussels.

He will also be making a return to his much loved BBC series later in the year, Rick Stein’s Cornwall.

Rick’s business sprawls across locations in Barnes, Sandbanks and Winchester, having opened his first restaurant in 1975.

While his former premises in Padstow may no longer be a restaurant, it will soon turn its hand to become a coffee shop, aptly named Rick Stein Coffee Shop, managed by his son, Charlie.

“This lockdown really made me think about my family: do you want this business to survive? If so, you’ll have to fight for it. And all that time at home gave me an idea,” he said.

Despite remarrying, Stein’s first wife, Jill, remains a vital part of the organisation as well as being chairwoman of the Visit Cornwall tourist board.

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