Jamie’s Italian restaurants call it quits in Hong Kong, blame protests and virus for drop in diners

Interior of the Jamie’s Italian in Causeway Bay. Photo via Facebook/Jamie’s Italian.
Interior of the Jamie’s Italian in Causeway Bay. Photo via Facebook/Jamie’s Italian.

British-Italian restaurant chain Jamie’s Italian will close the doors of its two franchises for good on Friday.

But following months of anti-government protests, the coronavirus outbreak, and a drop in tourist arrivals, Big Cat Group — which owns the restaurant franchise — announced that it was time to call it quits for both outlets, which were the brainchild of British celebrity chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver. It also announced that its Taipei franchise will close Thursday.

“These events, combined with the fact that Hong Kong remains one of the highest rental markets in the world, have created what could be described as “the perfect storm,” the group said in a statement yesterday.

The first opened in Hong Kong in 2014 in Causeway Bay, followed a year later by the second in Tsim Sha Tsui.

In its statement, Big Cat said the number of daily visitors to the city plunged from 200,000 in January of 2019 to fewer than 3,000 this month.

It’s been a rough year for the British celebrity chef, after his restaurant group went into administration in May, with 22 branches in the U.K. shut, and 1,000 jobs lost. Oliver’s overseas branches and franchises had been unaffected at the time.

 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story confused the number of visitors to the restaurant with the number of visitors to the city. Coconuts HK apologizes for any confusion caused.

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