Jamie Oliver is reduced to tears as he returns to empty Fifteen restaurant in London and admits he 'didn't know' how to run business after it collapsed with loss of 1,000 jobs

  • Jamie Oliver returned to first Fifteen restaurant he ever opened for documentary
  • Celeb chef appeared in Channel 4 show following collapse of restaurant empire
  • Oliver told Davina McCall he was 'naive' and 'didn't know how to run a business' 
  • Fifteen opened in 2002 and ran schemes for young chefs from disadvantaged backgrounds

Jamie Oliver was left in tears as he went back to the first restaurant he ever opened following the collapse of several of his brands.

The chef, 44, went to his Fifteen site in east London, which he opened in 2002, as part of Channel 4 documentary Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef Bares All.

And he and presenter Davina McCall both became emotional as he talked her through what went wrong with his empire and the stress he had been under since.

Oliver's chains Fifteen, Jamie's Italian and Barbecoa went into administration in May, with more than 20 restaurants shutting and 1,000 jobs lost as a result. 

Talking about the failures, he said he was 'naive' and 'didn't know' how to run a business successfully.

Jamie Oliver was reduced to tears on Channel 4 documentary The Naked Chef Bares All after returning to one of his Fifteen restaurants in east London and seeing it empty

Jamie Oliver was reduced to tears on Channel 4 documentary The Naked Chef Bares All after returning to one of his Fifteen restaurants in east London and seeing it empty

The 44-year-old, pictured at the restaurant on the documentary, said it was 'tough' to be back and that it was 'like a bomb has gone off and everyone has left'

The 44-year-old, pictured at the restaurant on the documentary, said it was 'tough' to be back and that it was 'like a bomb has gone off and everyone has left'

A fresh faced Oliver stands in front of the Fifteen in Westland Place, London, in 2003

A fresh faced Oliver stands in front of the Fifteen in Westland Place, London, in 2003

He told McCall: 'To survive in this industry is tough. I was very naïve.

'I was good at running one restaurant. I opened lots of big restaurants and people like small restaurants and we sort of had these big cathedrals we couldn't fill.'

He added: 'The staff got paid up to the date and I made sure of that. The hardest part was telling staff that they haven't got a job anymore.'

Walking into the building, Oliver said: 'It's like the films where the bomb goes off and everyone has to leave, and everything is just left.'

Then, after going downstairs, he began to break down into tears, telling McCall: 'My god. It's tough.' 

Oliver first opened the Fifteen restaurant in 2002 to train apprentice chefs from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The not-for-profit went on to give 15 young people a year the chance to work in the food industry at a cost of £40,000 each. 

They were able to train alongside a team of 25 professional chefs and mentors. 

Oliver said 80 per cent of them were still employed in the sector five or six years after they left. 

Jamie Oliver makes a sheepish exit via a back door on BBC The One Show
Jamie Oliver makes a sheepish exit via a back door on BBC The One Show

Jamie Oliver makes a sheepish exit via a back door on BBC The One Show

Oliver has previously said the business 'changed him as a person' and that the 'young graduates were the profit'.

It comes after Oliver suggested Brexit was to blame for the collapse in an interview last weekend, claiming the 'uncertainty' caused has changed people's eating habits. 

The TV chef believes people stopped eating at restaurants because of uncertainty after the 2016 referendum. 

He said: 'The world changed, the high street changed – it started to become Uber-fied – our competitors changed, and we looked less different to them as we did in the beginning.

'Then, when there’s that chain reaction, throw a bit of Brexit in, say the B word, confidence goes and people’s habits changed.' 

But experts say the growth of takeaway apps, and a 'saturation' of food chains on Britain's high streets contributed to eroding the company's earnings. 

The chef looked glum as he took Davina McCall on a tour of the site, revealing he had been 'naive' in running the business and the past few months had caused him 'stress'

The chef looked glum as he took Davina McCall on a tour of the site, revealing he had been 'naive' in running the business and the past few months had caused him 'stress'

The show was presented by Davina McCall, pictured, who toured the site with Oliver

The show was presented by Davina McCall, pictured, who toured the site with Oliver

Together the pair walked around the empty eatery and Oliver compared his restaurants to 'big cathedrals that we couldn't fill'

Together the pair walked around the empty eatery and Oliver compared his restaurants to 'big cathedrals that we couldn't fill'

In 2017 the father-of-five, who lives in a £6million 16th century Essex mansion, ploughed £12.7million of his own money into his struggling businesses.

Oliver has built his vast fortune on TV and publishing deals, restaurant chains and product endorsement — both in the UK and Australia, where he fronts nutrition adverts for a supermarket.   

Food critics and industry experts claim the overpriced, mid-range meals on offer at his High Street restaurants were a recipe for disaster. 

While Oliver's recipe books flew off the shelves in their millions and his TV shows continued to rake in viewers, his own food outlets failed to meet the same standards. 

Restaurant critic Marina O'Loughlin said she would have to be 'paid' to go back to Jamie's Italian in London's Westfield.

The TV chef believes people stopped eating at restaurants because of uncertainty when Brexit was announced after the 2016 referendum

The TV chef (pictured in his Fifteen restaurant in 2003) believes people stopped eating at restaurants because of uncertainty when Brexit was announced after the 2016 referendum

Roughly 1,000 jobs were lost when all 25 outlets of Jamie's Italian, Barbecoa and Fifteen (pictured serving int he restaurant in 2003) closed

Roughly 1,000 jobs were lost when all 25 outlets of Jamie's Italian, Barbecoa and Fifteen (pictured serving int he restaurant in 2003) closed

The Fifteen restaurant in east London, pictured, was the first Oliver ever opened in 2002

The Fifteen restaurant in east London, pictured, was the first Oliver ever opened in 2002

Market analyst Fiona Cincotta claimed the menu was 'too expensive for mid-range dining and not high-end enough to compete at the more expensive end of the market'.   

Timeline: How Jamie Oliver's chains plunged into debt

2008: Jamie's Italian opened its first restaurant in 2008.

2015: Jamie At Home, which contracted agents to sell his cookware range at parties, ceased trading after racking up losses. The company began in 2009, as part of the Jamie Oliver organisation, before being licensed to another firm in 2013, but shut up shop in 2015.

2017: Jamie's businesses lost £20m, forcing him to shut 18 of his Italian restaurants - leading to the loss of 600 jobs.

Chain was struggling with debts of £71.5m and teetered on the edge of bankruptcy before the chef injected his savings into the business. 

The firm also took out £37m in loans from HSBC and other companies. 

In 2017 he closed the last of his four his Union Jack Piazzas, in London's Covent Garden. 

2018: Jamie's Italian shuttered 12 of its 37 sites, with the latter tranche executed through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA).

He also came under fire for failing to pay suppliers after his upmarket steak restaurant Barbecoa crashed into administration, leading to the closure of its Piccadilly branch.  

The restaurant in St Paul's continued to trade and was bought out by a new company set up by Oliver, who was no longer legally liable for the debts. 

2019: All but three of Jamie Oliver's restaurants close after the business called in administrators, with 1,000 staff facing redundancy. 

Poor online reviews are also believed to have contributed to the worsening reputation of Jamie's Italian as food delivery apps such as Uber Eats have conquered the market, leaving the chef unable to save his struggling brand.

TripAdvisor reviewers recently branded his Covent Garden branch as 'shocking', 'nothing special' and pricey in recent months. 

He was blasted by fellow celebrity chef Marco Pierre White - with whom he has had a long-running war of words - over using Brexit as an 'excuse' and branded 'delusional'. 

White added he had previously had a 'horrific' experience at a Jamie Oliver restaurant at Gatwick Airport last year due to the wait for his food, suggesting the service may have also had an impact on his drop in trade.   

White said: 'I have read Jamie is blaming his business failure on Brexit but I really don't understand that at all.

'Wouldn't that mean then all restaurants have gone bust too?

'I don't think he can blame Brexit. It's the lamest excuse in the world. I think it is wrong to blame Brexit. We're all in the same boat. If it's Brexit's fault, we'd all be bust.

'How can you blame everyone but yourself? Is he delusional?'  

The pair have been embroiled in a war of words over the past decade, with Oliver calling him a 'psychological bully' in 2014.

But he said he did not 'hate' White and added he was once his childhood hero. 

White also criticised Oliver in 2010 over his campaign to ban Turkey Twizzlers from schools five years earlier, claiming it was 'unfair' of his rival to label the product unhealthy.

It came after White signed an advertising deal for Bernard Matthews, which produced the Twizzlers.

A year later he claimed Mr Oliver was 'not a real chef' because he 'never won a Michelin star' and was therefore 'not accepted by the chef world'.

White has his own food franchise, Black and White Hospitality, following a stellar career in the kitchen where he was the first British chef to win three Michelin stars by the age of 32, also becoming the youngest in the world to achieve that accolade.  

White's group owns the rights to eight brands bearing his name and has locations in New York and Abu Dhabi. 

Mr Oliver recently said the last few months had been the 'most disappointing' of his life.

He told the Times: 'I did believe I could turn it round. I put in £3million, another £3million, then another £3million, however the numbers went.

'But there was no good news.'  

Which restaurants have closed?  

All but three of Jamie Oliver's restaurants have closed after the business called in administrators, with 1,000 staff facing redundancy. 

The three remaining restaurants, based at Gatwick, will continue to trade but could also be at risk if no buyer is found for the business.

Jamie's Italian closures:

Birmingham

Brighton

Cambridge

Cardiff

Edinburgh

Glasgow

Guildford

Leeds

Liverpool

London (Islington)

London (Covent Garden)

London (London Bridge)

London (Piccadilly)

London (Victoria)

London (Westfield White City)

London (Westfield Stratford)

Manchester

Nottingham

Oxford

York

Other closures

Barbecoa (One New Change shopping centre, London)

Fifteen (Hoxton, London)

Restaurants still trading

Jamie's Italian (Gatwick North, London)

Jamie's Italian Coffee Lounge (Gatwick North, London)

Jamie Oliver's Diner (Gatwick South, London)

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall and Jamie's Italian International are also still trading and have not been part of the administration process.

Jamie Oliver is reduced to tears as he returns to empty London restaurant

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.