Gordon Ramsay's 'success' restaurant to close


Last updated at 09:44 04 January 2008

It was the ultimate Gordon Ramsay success story - a poorly-run soul food restaurant transformed into a culinary delight with the help of the television chef's tough love and advice on his Kitchen Nightmares show.

Thousands flocked to Brighton to experience the “Soul in a Bowl” concept served up by Momma Cherri's owner Charita Jones after she appeared on the Channel 4 programme three years ago.

A year ago Ramsay revisited the restaurant and proudly reported it was catering for 1,000 customers a week.

But now Momma Cherri is closing, unable to deal with spiraling costs and debts of £200,000.

After taking legal advice, Mrs Jones, 52, has put the company into administration. She said letters to Ramsay seeking his help have gone unanswered.

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Gordon Ramsay 'Momma Cherri'

Six months after the programme aired Momma Cherri's Soul Shack expanded into a larger premises, called Momma Cherri's Big House, to deal with the Ramsay-fuelled demand.

But she can no longer afford to run it.

She said: “The building is costing us too much and we never got a loan from the bank.

“We were running two businesses for a whole year and then had a building we couldn't sell.

“We went from ten employees to 30 and the building that we took on had so many hidden problems.

“It was bigger and better though and I just wanted to feed as many people as I could.

“I have written to Gordon Ramsay but I've heard nothing back. I've asked them to do another follow-up which helps deal with the debt.

“I do not regret a minute going on the show. The difficulty is there needs to be more of a follow up show.

“A lot of the businesses are in debt anyway just have a higher turnover doesn't necessary tackle debt.”

Mrs Jones hoped to obtain a bank loan to help pay for the £7000-a-month Big House premises which she began to lease 18 months ago.

But banks refused to lend her the money, and she was forced to take out a series of smaller loans.

Mrs Jones has already remortgaged her Brighton home three times to try to stave off closure, but she said she has been a victim of her own success.

She said: “I did as much as I could do. You get perceived as doing well because of the TV and the book and people then assumed it had a knock on effect in the restaurant.

“We have never been able to do it comfortably. People ask how I am and I'd say “still poor” and they'd just laugh.”

Mrs Jones continues to use her celebrity status with television and public appearances to raise more funds.

And she now hopes to be able to pay off suppliers and start up Momma Cherri's again, but this time on a smaller scale.

Accountants at Baker Tilly have been appointed joint administrators of the company while Mrs Jones' daughter, Katryna, looks after the restaurant.

Gordon Ramsay was not available for comment.

Momma Cherri's failure echoes the fortunes of another restaurant featured by Ramsay on his Kitchen Nightmares show.

Bonaparte's in Silsden, West Yorkshire, closed in May 2004 after its owner, Sue Ray, was savaged by the irascible chef.

Ray said she was prescribed antidepressants and faced bankruptcy after being hit with a string of cancelled reservations and hoax bookings after the programme aired.

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