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Not so neat


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When I was in Cannes two weekends ago, my wife and I walked past Neat and it was closed. In the window was an unsigned letter in French, with a translated version in English alongside that derided the French public for their lack of taste, their abandonement of fresh food and artisanal ingredients, and it ultimately went on to blame them for Neat's closing. It sounds to me like all of his business ventures were leveraged together, and the failing of one caused the others to crash as well. So I'm not sure there is anything to blame except his being overextended financially.

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It sounds to me like all of his business ventures were leveraged together, and the failing of one caused the others to crash as well. So I'm not sure there is anything to blame except his being overextended financially.

Not the case. These were two separate failures and all the worse for that. He's in France at the moment trying to decide what to do. I believe he's considering going in to top end private catering which seems to me a great shame. While he may not have been that great at the economics of restaurants he is a stunning chef, among the best Britain has produced.

Jay

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Novelli was fortunate enough (with respect to reestablishing himself, to be clear) to have MPW as his mentor and cheerleader, though.  :wink:

Below is a 2002 article from The Observer, on how helpful MPW was to Novelli. I believe a Novelli cookbook might hint at this too (unclear, as I glanced at it in a bookstore and did not buy it).

http://www.observer.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4350798,00.html

"Novelli's saviour, in this expensively appointed kitchen sink drama, was, appropriately, the man who set in motion the whole idea of London as a restaurant capital, the man who Novelli refers to as his greatest friend and as one of the 'very few inspired artists Britain has produced': Marco Pierre White. . . . They had not, at the time, been in touch with each other for many months. As the financial pressures on him [Novelli] had increased Novelli had stopped talking. . . . Novelli responded for once to the March of the Valkyries ring tone of his mobile phone. It was, of course, Marco, first inviting him to his forthcoming wedding, second insisting that they talk about his problems. They met up that night . . . . He poured out everything to Marco; the size of his debts and liabilities . . . . . Marco, he says, in reply, very measured . . . . He . . . arrived in Clerkenwell the next day **with his cheque book** asking how much he needed to at least keep his flagship restaurant, Maison Novelli, afloat. 'I was so embarrassed,' says Novelli now, in his office above that restaurant, 'And **so honoured** that he wanted to help after the way I had behaved. I said to him 'Take the fucking place'. But he said it was my place . . . And he signed me a cheque, **much more than I expected or deserved**. Later we worked out a partnership deal . . . '" :wink:

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  • 4 months later...
Neat London, the combined brasserie and gastronomique operation in the Oxo Tower, has closed. A mark of recession or quality?

Zagat reports the following: "Richard Neat: The English chef of the eponymous restaurant in Cannes (Neat) is scouting a location for a Paris restaurant."

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Neat London, the combined brasserie and gastronomique operation in the Oxo Tower, has closed. A mark of recession or quality?

Zagat reports the following: "Richard Neat: The English chef of the eponymous restaurant in Cannes (Neat) is scouting a location for a Paris restaurant."

and he's lost his star in cannes. are the two issues related i wonder?

gary

you don't win friends with salad

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I have to declare an interest as Richard Neat's colleague in setting up Neat in Cannes.

We did not lose our Michelin star in Cannes; we had a star in the 2002 Guide (for the third year running); we closed in September 2002, well before the 2003 Guide came out, which is why we do not feature in the current Guide.

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sorry

I was only working on the info provided by michelin, i did not realise the restaurant had closed.

this has been a problem with the uk guide too, making restaurants look demoted when they had in fact closed.

are you still working together?

cheers

gary

you don't win friends with salad

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how do you do those direct quotes from another post on to one's own,Andy

Whilst Andy's description is quite good I still had trouble with the quotes (yes, I know, I'm a bit thick). But here's step-by-step:

Say you want to show this sentence as a quote.

You would simply click the 'QUOTE' button on the top right hand corner of this box.

What happens is that you are taken to an empty box where you list your own comments. As you scroll down you'll see that my complete text has been pasted in a seperate box below your comments. Simply edit out of this box the sentences you do not wish to appear (i.e. in this case cut paras 1, 3 and 4).

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Are you able to fill in any details of why the restaurants in Cannes and London closed?

i wasn't involved with Neat London for the six months before it closed, so my information is a bit second-hand, but I think that a restaurant with its overheads and charging the prices it did was bound to have a difficult time after 9/11. It hadn't been going long enough before September 2001 to have built up a solid customer base to support it through the weeks when people were avoiding central London restaurants, and although trade picked up after six weeks the damage was done.

Cannes closed primarily because July and August 2002 were very poor trading months in Cannes and we just couldn't trade through to the traditionally much better months of September and October.

More generally, the best response for a high-end restaurant to an economic downturn is perhaps to simplify the offering and reduce the prices, and Richard Neat did try this in Cannes (although not in London), but maybe not soon enough. It's very hard to simplify his food and not compromise the USP of his technical genius.

No doubt others will have different explanations.

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