10 Celebrity Chefs That Were Forced To Close Their Restaurants

You can see celebrity chefs on Food Network almost every day. You know ones like Guy Fieri and Anne Burrell from "Iron Chef America," and "Chopped," while others like Gordon Ramsey have made a name for themselves independently. But even being a household name doesn't mean every venture you invest in will become an immediate success. Case in point — these 10 celebrity chefs had to close down their restaurants.

Just because a chef is on TV, doesn't always mean they will be the most successful restaurateur. And even successful chefs have restaurants that close — it's more or less inevitable. There are a lot of balls to juggle in order to keep a restaurant profitable, keep customers and staff happy, and spread good word of mouth. Location, too, can often be a major deciding factor in whether or not a business will thrive.

Even celebrity chefs are not immune to the harsh nature of the economy and climbing rents in cities like New York and San Francisco. Sometimes, that means even a chef with one successful restaurant will have to close another one down just to keep the lights on. Each of these celebrity chefs had no option but to shut the doors on their eateries not long after opening them in the first place.

Guy Fieri's American Kitchen & Grill

Given the initial backlash and press cycle regarding the opening of Guy Fieri's American Kitchen & Grill in 2012, you would think the project was doomed to be a total failure. That wouldn't quite be the case, but regardless of the circumstances, the host of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" was forced to shut down this Times Square joint in December 2017. Still, despite negative reviews from the New York Times and others, in those five years, it spent time ranked as one of the most profitable restaurants in the city. 

So it seems like bad press did little to slow Fieri down, but after five years of operation, the chef shut the business down for undisclosed reasons. When Guy Fieri's American Kitchen & Grill closed, the celebrity chef lost one source of revenue, that much is for certain. While Fieri is obviously more than comfortable without it, there had to have been a good reason to close such a successful venture on such short notice.

Masaharu Morimoto — Tribeca Canvas

The name Masaharu Morimoto means a lot to any fan of "Iron Chef" and its popular Western offshoot, "Iron Chef America." This Iron Chef has opened plenty of successful restaurants, including multiple that are still operating in Hawaii, New York, and California. So it might shock you to learn that the successful chef, author, and restaurateur has the ability to fail. Morimoto is, despite his legendary status, human after all.

A prime example of this is the time Morimoto was forced to close his NYC restaurant less than a year after opening it. After receiving less than stellar reviews, the Iron Chef's Tribeca Canvas closed in August of 2013, after its November 2012 opening. Yikes! That's a pretty tiny span of time, even given how quickly some establishments can come and go. In the world of fine dining, a loss can be costly if you try and sustain a failing business. Morimoto clearly knew this and didn't allow the failed concept to put a stain on his reputation.

Bobby Flay — Gato and Bar Americain

Bobby Flay might just be the most valuable asset the Food Network has, especially after re-negotiating for a $100 million, three-year contract in 2022. He is one of the most well-known celebrity chefs around. You wouldn't think it, but even Flay has been forced to close multiple restaurants over the course of his exceptional career. Despite a handful of major restaurant closures in the past five years, the celebrity chef continues to be top of his field. 

Flay's flagship restaurant, Mesa Grill, closed after 22 years in 2013, but we are going to chalk that up as a win for Flay due to its longevity. Twenty-two years is no slouch. However, in January 2018, another NYC staple of Flay's shut down with the closure of Bar Americain. Untenable increasing rents and renovation costs forced Flay's hand and put an end to this institution.

Obviously, despite his massive success, Flay understands failure is a part of the business. Most recently, the chef was forced to close Gato, another of his NYC restaurants, in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cat Cora — Fatbird

Cat Cora has been on the Food Network since 1999. In those years, the Southern chef has brought her elevated homestyle cooking to the channel and proved herself to be worthy of the title Iron Chef. Cora has had numerous successful restaurant openings, and you can find Cat Cora's Kitchen in many airports across the country. So it's safe to say this Iron Chef knows a thing or two about cooking and running a successful franchise. Yet, one venture alluded her and she was forced to close a burgeoning NYC restaurant after only seven months of operation. 

Cat Cora's Fatbird was an upscale Southern restaurant that the chef opened up in June 2016. While the food failed to live up to the expectations that came with the name, that wasn't the reason Fatbird wound up closing by March 2017.

The previous October, the Iron Chef had sued her partner, Charissa Davidovici, after claiming he never paid her a $400,000 fee she says she owed for use of her name, likeness, and recipes. This legal kerfuffle spelled the end for Fatbird, and it wasn't even six more months before the business shut its doors for good.

Gordon Ramsay — Maze

Known more for his abrasive persona on shows like "Hell's Kitchen" and "Masterchef" than his cooking, Gordon Ramsay is one of the most recognized chefs in the country. Not only are his TV programs award-winning and enduring, but the chef is no stranger to success in the restaurant business. Over the course of his career, Ramsay has earned numerous Michelin stars and has kept eateries open for decades. You don't see that kind of prosperity without failure, and Ramsay is also no stranger to restaurant closure. When it comes down to it, you need a lot more than a name to keep a restaurant open forever.

This was especially true for Ramsay's London Asian-inspired eatery Maze, which was open for 14 years before it closed in 2019. The reasons for shutting down this legacy establishment were primarily financial. In the last couple of years of the restaurant's run, it racked up millions of dollars in losses. Ramsay and his holdings company, the ​​Gordon Ramsay Group, were forced to shut Maze down once and for all.

Jamie Oliver — Jamie's Italian

The naked chef himself, Jamie Oliver, was the victim of the biggest restaurant empire collapse of anyone on this list. In 2019, almost all the locations of his popular U.K. chain, Jamie's Italian, owned by the chef were forced to close. A legacy that the celebrity chef had been building since 2002 folded after years of attempts to keep it alive. In one fell swoop, 22 of Oliver's restaurants across the country were shut down.

Rising costs and continual layoffs became the status quo for Oliver's Jamie's Italian locations throughout the U.K. in the mid-2010s. In 2018, Oliver spent £13 million of his own money to save his restaurant empire from bankruptcy. The cash continued to run out and in May 2019, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group appointed KPMG as administrator and closed over 20 locations.

Despite these setbacks, Oliver has managed to still rake it in, paying himself over $6.4 million that year. Books, TV shows, and licensing agreements allowed the chef to continue prospering. 

Jose Garces — Amada

Jose Garces is undoubtedly an accomplished chef. Holding the title of Iron Chef alone could tell you that, but his most successful Philadelphia eatery, Amada, (which is still open to this day) drives that point home. Or at least it did once. When Garces attempted to take the Amada brand to New York City, the celebrity chef got into legal hot water.

In 2016, Garces opened an Amada in the Battery Park City neighborhood of Manhattan. By March 2018, the location was closed. Not too long after the closure, it was brought to light that Garces was being sued by a couple who had invested over $2.5 million in his restaurants after he supposedly kept asking for money without plans to pay it back. The context of the business move in the first place came out in 2018 as well.

In an interview with Philadelphia Magazine, Garces revealed that the closure of his restaurant Revel in 2014 had put him in a bind. "We knew we needed ways to make up that shortfall," the Iron Chef said. "So when we got a call about bringing a 'Jose Garces concept' to New York, we went for it."

Anne Burrell — Phil and Anne's Good Time Lounge

Firebrand celebrity chef Anne Burrell can be seen as a coach on "Worst Cooks in America" and sometimes a judge on programs like Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay." Known for her spiky hair and helpful cooking tips, Burrell came up as a cook in some of New York's finest restaurants and soon established herself as one of Food Network's biggest stars. Yet, Burrell has a rocky history when it comes to opening her own joint.

In 2017, Burrell opened Phil and Anne's Good Time Lounge along with her former friend Phil Casaceli as her business partner. Unfortunately, it was not a happy partnership and it didn't last especially long.

Despite its success as a business, Phil and Anne's Good Time Lounge closed in April 2018. During the brief time operating the restaurant, Burrell and Casaceli allegedly came to hate working together, so much so that they had to shut down the lounge. A representative for Burrell told Page Six news that "[Anne] and Phil have had differences of opinion during their business relationship that made running a restaurant together impossible." This experience tainted the waters for Burrell, who has not gone on to try and open another restaurant since.

Scott Conant — Fusco

You've probably seen Scott Conant as a judge on "Chopped" or teasing his chef buddies on "Beat Bobby Flay." The master of fine Italian cuisine is not only an excellent judge and personality but an accomplished chef and restaurateur. His NYC eatery Scarpetta has been serving elevated Italian dishes since its opening in 2008. That year, it received a James Beard award for best new restaurant in America. But even accolades and a decade of thriving at one business do not guarantee another win. This was certainly the case with Conant and his short-lived NYC restaurant, Fusco.

The celebrity chef attempted to recreate Scarpetta's success in 2017, only for Fusco to have to close its doors the following year. The reason? Increasing operational costs in NYC were at fault according to a statement given to Eater. Needless to say, running a restaurant in New York City is never cheap and oftentimes even a great concept and even better food can't save a failing business model from the clutches of doom.

Giada De Laurentiis — GDL Italian

Giada De Laurentiis is certainly one of the most recognizable names and faces from the Food Network. Over the years, her many shows have introduced us to new cooking-savvy techniques and recipes. Following her rise to fame, the "Everyday Italian" chef has opened up a handful of pretty stunning eateries in Las Vegas. These include Giada, Pronto by Giada, and GDL Italian. Unfortunately, all of them were forced to close in 2020 due to the pandemic.

In the intervening time since the shutdown, Giada and Pronto have re-opened their doors to guests, but one restaurant was forced to close due to these stressful and unforeseen conditions. GDL Italian did not make it to the other side, and as such, the restaurant is now listed as permanently closed.

This closure likely did not impact De Laurentiis too much, as her other restaurants and programs continue to thrive. In fact, the celebrity chef just signed a lucrative deal to move exclusively to Amazon for her future TV endeavors.